House of Representatives donate P1.4 M to dragon boat champions

The 285 members of House of Representative jointly donate P1.4 million cash to the 20-member Philippine Dragon Boat Federation team that won five gold and two silver medals in the 10th World Dragon Boat Racing Championships in Florida.

The reward, to be used for their training and development, was approved at the House plenary session following a privilege speech on Wednesday night by Isabela Representative Rodolfo Albano, who tabled a motion for his colleagues to contribute P5,000 each to be deducted from their next paycheck.

The motion was endorsed by Manila Representative Amado Bagatsing, chairman of the House committee on games and amusement, and was unanimously approved by the body.

Albano said that many Filipinos were saddened to learn about the hardships of the team members had to go through to compete in the races, where their fame had preceded them.

He said the dragon boat team members had to sell plastic bottles and other recyclable materials just to be able to raise money to sustain their training.

“Nangunguha sila ng tahong sa Manila Bay at iniihaw ito para makain habang sila ay nagte-training,” Albano said in his speech.

He pointed out that only the Asia Brewery’s Cobra Energy and Philippine Airlines and some individuals provided for the team’s financial needs to cover plane fare and accommodations while in Florida.

“What is pathetic was that our PDBF team, upon reaching Florida, had to beg, literally, for rice, water and kitchen utensils from our fellow Filipinos in the area,” Albano said. “Fortunately our Filipino compatriots there responded and supplied them with food and water, they even pooled their resources and gave allowances to the team members.”

Albano said that all of the team’s hardships were caused by the absence of support and recognition from the government, particularly the Philippine Olympic Committee.

“This glaring absence of support from the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission drew quick criticisms and condemnation from the public,” he said.

Albano said several quarters have asked for the resignation of Philippine Amateur Track and Field President Go Teng Kok, POC President Jose Cojuangco and PSC Chairman Richie Garcia for their failure to support the team.

He said there were also mounting calls for a congressional inquiry into the refusal by the PSC and POC to acknowledge the paddlers as a national team.

Reports said that in 2010, the POC asked the PDBF members to undergo time trials as a condition for the team’s participation in the Guangzhou Asian Games.

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