[PHOTO AT LEFT  -  ON WITH THE GAMES: Assisted by Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco, President Arroyo dons the official jacket of RP athletes competing in the forthcoming 23rd Southeast Asian Games in Manila after a Mass at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City last Friday night. - Photo By Willy Perez]

MANILA, November 7, 2005 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Filipino athletes — big or small, winner or loser — will each receive $300 in allowance for their participation in the 23rd Southeast Asian Games that will begin later this month. Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez said despite the limited budget, the government sports agency has committed to give all the athletes equal treatment.

Around 800 Filipino athletes will see action in the biennial competition, officially set Nov. 27-Dec. 5 despite the fact that some events like football will start a few days earlier.

Ramirez said the PSC will make sure that all the athletes and coaches will receive $300 each or roughly P16,000. They will receive their allowance in dollars.

The PSC chief said even athletes with very limited participation will get the same amount. Distributing them in dollars, he added, will give the athletes the feel of international competition.

"Even the athletes who will only see action for a day or two as compared to some who will see action for a week will get $300 each. This goes for the coaches as well," he said.

Ramirez, however, said not all officials of the different sports will be provided the allowance. The PSC board is still studying the extent of the provision.

There are more than 200 coaches in the Philippine contingent, meaning that PSC will have to shell out around P15 million for their allowance.

But it should be nothing if compared to the P200 million which the government’s funding arm in sports is expected to spend for the Filipino athletes before and during the Games.

The PSC is also spending $40 a day for the hotel accommodations of the athletes and coaches. But they will not get their hands on the money since they will be paid directly to the hotels.

"It’s just another way of giving our athletes special treatment. We don’t want them to stay in their quarters or their homes when their opponents are billeted in fine hotels," said Ramirez.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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