Torres : Whoever is saying $6K incentive is too much is being insulting


Whoever is saying that the $6,000 cash incentive that will be given to any CNMI athlete who wins a gold medal during the Pacific Mini Games 2022 is “too much” is being insulting to the athletes, coaches, the organizers of the event, and to the people of the Commonwealth, according to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres on Friday.

“How do you put a value to say it’s too much when they wave your flag during competition and compete around the Pacific,” said Torres in response to a question during Friday’s radio press briefing.

The organizing committee of the Pacific Mini Games 2022 is putting up a $5,000 cash incentive for gold medalist from the CNMI, and Torres said will give another $1,000 cash from his office.

Torres said those who criticize the incentive program are being insulting.

“I hope that you realize what you have said and I hope you contribute to give these athletes just that extra push, an extra thank you for working so hard to represent the CNMI,” he said. “I hope that the others who are complaining, please put more money into our athletes.”

The governor said he wishes he could give more, such as $10,000 or $20,000, because there is no value when they wave the CNMI’s flag and they sing the national anthem.

During last week’s House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee hearing for the Department of Finance’s budget for fiscal year 2023, Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan) stated that she is very concerned about this incentive program that the administration is going to implement for the Pacific Mini Games.

“And while we support the athletes in any way we can, I’m really concerned about the incentive awards, $5,000 for gold medalist, teams, and individual members,” Babauta said.

The lawmaker said for one sport alone, such as baseball, if a team received the gold medal in that particular sport, even the individual members will get a $1,000 on top of the $5,000, so it’s about $10,000 a member for one team.

Babauta asked where is the funding source will come from for the incentive program.

In response to Babauta’s question, Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig said they budgeted $4 million for the Pacific Mini Games as sports tourism.

Atalig said they gave the funds to the organizing committee, so the incentive program is coming from within the committee’s budget.

He noted that the organizing committee is also receiving many monetary donations, as well as getting additional fees from every team that participates.

“Like yourself, I thought, wow, that’s…it’s like the U.S. Olympics, I guess if you win a medal you are a millionaire,” Atalig told Babauta.

Nonetheless, Atalig said, he knows that incentive is if for every event is won by the CNMI.

“So I don’t anticipate that every event is going to be won by the CNMI. I would love that to happen but… think that it’s going to be drastically less or lesser than we think. But that will be up to the organizational committee,” Atalig said.

He said prior to getting the American Rescue Plan Act money, they were already setting aside local funds for the Pacific Mini Games as the administration’s commitment to the event.

Atalig said after getting assurance from the U.S. Treasury that doing sports tourism in the Pacific Games is qualified as part of ARPA, he gave $4 million from ARPA. He said it’s an allowable cost.

After the press briefing Friday, the Pacific Mini Games organizational committee disclosed that Rep. Corina L. Magofna (Ind-Saipan) donated $1,000 cash from her own pocket to the event.

The Pacific Mini Games will be held on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota from June 17 to 25, 2022. Twenty countries and territories will participate in nine sports.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at
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