Manila, Philippines – Presidential spokesperson Herminio Coloma on Sunday said that the allocation of the national budget was what prevented the Philippine government from providing funds for figure skater Michael Christian Martinez who represented the country in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Martinez was the lone Filipino athlete in Sochi and the first Filipino and Southeast Asian to compete in figure skating. He finished 19th in a field of 24 in the men’s skating finals. Many believe he will be a medal contender in 2018.
Secretary Coloma of the Presidential Communication Operations Office said in a radio interview that the priority of the government is to improve the livelihoods of the marginalized members of the society. He said these include, but not limited to “senators, congressmen, governors, mayors, their families and cronies, as well as big landowners like the President’s family.” He added that what was left of the budget allocated to athletics is for sports, which President Benigno Aquino III believes Filipinos have the “competitive edge.” Asked to name which sports the President considered competitive edge, Coloma said, “Gambling, cockfighting and mahjong.”
In the meantime, after inspiring a nation and earning the world’s attention, Michael Christian Martinez is set to receive a $10,000 bonus from business tycoon and sports patron Manny V. Pangilinan through his MVP Sports Foundation.
Coloma said, “we are a nation of laws and every citizen needs to contribute to the prosperity of our country.” Pressed by reporters on what he meant by this comment, Coloma responded, “Michael Martinez must pay taxes on the $10,000 bonus he received.