HOW would Malacañang deal with Hidilyn Diaz, the Air Force personnel who awarded the country its first Olympic gold medal? In 2019, then-President Spokesman Salvador Panelo showed off a piece of cartolina that contained a diagram of the figures who allegedly conspired to overthrow President Duterte. Among the names were those of Diaz and the former volleyball star Gretchen Ho, who had successfully made a name for herself as an ABS-CBN broadcaster. Diaz, who was already in training to become a national athlete, had previously complained about a lack of financial support, a claim that the Philippine Sports Commission has rejected. Therefore, it must have been included in the so-called matrix. And Ho was on ABS-CBN, a network that Duterte partisans in the House of Representatives voted for not to grant a franchise.

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This was apparently part of a tactic to scare the Duterte administrator’s critics, one that was carried over to the most recent time when the community pantry organizer, Ana Patricia Non, was given red markings. As a result of Diaz’s inclusion in the Matrix, the government troll army hit her on social media. This affected her training, which she noted in a statement made after the medal rites. Bashing was one of the challenges she had to master on the way to her record victory. Diaz made no mention of Duterte, but was profuse with her thanks to a god who was once the subject of criticism from the president. But to be fair, Malacañang has congratulated Diaz in a statement and is expected to celebrate it, considering that 10 million pesos of the monetary incentives she will receive come from the government. Duterte is also their commander-in-chief. I’m sad that Cebuana Margielyn Didal didn’t get a podium, but I hope she gets the government support that she and her sport, skateboarding, deserve. This shouldn’t be the end of the road for Didal as Diaz’s silver medal in the previous Olympics didn’t put an end to her dream of a gold medal in weightlifting in significance and rightly so. It was historic when you consider that after decades since we first competed in the Olympics, we finally won a gold medal. Diaz’s name will forever be engraved when we talk about this event. The President’s Sona will be forgotten. Also, what special achievement does the President have in his years as President that is greater than Diaz’s gold medal? Interestingly, Diaz received a gold medal at an event that featured a Chinese athlete and was even considered a favorite. It is not often that we win at China’s expense. The other time it happened was when we won a case in the West Philippine Sea before an international tribunal. At that time, Benigno Aquino III was president. Unfortunately, the current dispensation never took pride in that achievement. So to Hidilyn Diaz, congratulations!

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