SENATOR Francis 'Chiz' Escudero has urged the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to grant more support to national sports associations capable of ending the country's hunt for its very first Olympic gold medal.
Escudero said the government sports body should adopt a performance-based system that will grant bigger budgets to sports associations which could qualify athletes to the Olympics beginning with next year's Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"At the very least, government should be at the forefront of this campaign and reward NSAs which qualify their athletes in the Olympics through more financial support from the PSC," Escudero said.
"This will give more opportunities to the NSAs to expose their athletes to more international competitions and training."
Weak-performing NSAs, Escudero said, should not expect equal government support compared with NSAs which could send athletes to the Olympics and win medals in the Asian and Southeast Asian Games.
"Sports' landscape has changed through the years. We have seen the rise of countries we used to beat in the SEA Games and we are fighting hard just to be able to make it in the middle pack," Escudero said.
Escudero cited the case of trackster Eric Cray, the lone Philippine representative to earn his place in the Rio Games.
"Cray needed to quit his job in the US and had sought private support just to be able to continue with his Olympic dream. Government, in my opinion, should take more of the burden in our Olympians' quests," he said.
Escudero also noted BMX rider Daniel Caluag's concern about his bid and training for a Rio slot. Caluag, sole gold medal winner for the Philippines in last year's Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, also expressed the need to take a break from his job as a nurse to focus on his Olympic drive.
The Philippines last won an Olympic medal in 1996 in Atlanta courtesy of Mansueto Velasco in boxing. Mansueto's older brother Rhoel, also a boxer, won a bronze medal in 1992 in Barcelona.
Escudero also noted the dwindling number of Filipino athletes who qualify for the Olympics. The biggest team the Philippines had sent to the Summer Games was in 1972 in Munich with 53 athletes.
The last time the Philippines sent a big team to the Olympics was in 1992 in Barcelona with 26 athletes and in 2000 in Sydney.
The Philippines only had 16 athletes in Athens (2004), 15 in Beijing (2008) and 11 in London (2012).