Twenty years after his electrifying silver medal finish in the Atlanta Olympics, Onyok Velasco continues to nurse hopes that the promised cash incentive promised by the government would finally be handed over to him.
Velasco was assured that he will be given P2.5 million as the House of Representatives had already approved the allocation for him but the Senate failed to act on it owing to a leadership squabble.
While RA 9064 was still not yet a law at that time, having only lapsed into law in 2001, it had a retroactive provision that assures Olympic achievers of a 50 percent claim.
RA 9064 listed an Olympic silver at that time as being worth P2.5 million and if the retro entry is to be followed, Velasco, now 42, should get P1.25 million.
That law was amended last year and Rio Games weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz is set to receive P5 million for her feat in the 53 kg. category.
Manny Lopez, the boxing chief during the time of Velasco, told the Bulletin yesterday that the Bago City puncher has yet to get his perk from government.
“There was a leadership crisis at that time and Onyok didn’t get what was due him,” said Lopez.
As a show of gratitude and concern for Velasco, Lopez and his father, former Manila mayor Mel Lopez, went the extra mile and sought private sector help and were able to raise about P5 million.
A developer also awarded Velasco a house and lot while Nissan gave him a Sentra and a Terrano.
Velasco’s feat came when amateur boxing was having its glory days as three fighters, including Velasco, went home with gold medals from the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games.
Velasco, however, could not sustain the momentum of his Olympic success that he ventured into TV acting and morphed into an often-maligned comic.