Air Force promotion: Call her Staff Sergeant Hidilyn Diaz!

Published July 28, 2021, 12:07 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

When it rains, it pours so they say, and this adage was proven true by Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.

Fresh from her historic feat at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan that gave her more than P50 million in cash rewards and other perks, weightlifter and military reservist Hidilyn Diaz received another reward which came in the form of a rank promotion from the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

Philippines’ Hidilyn Diaz reacts after placing first in the women’s 55kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. (Malacañang)

No less than Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), confirmed on Wednesday, July 28, that Diaz’ promotion to the rank of Staff Sergeant has been approved by PAF Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes.

“In lieu of her recent historic win in the Olympics, the Philippine Air Force through its Commanding General, approved the promotion of Sgt. Hidilyn Diaz effective July 27, 2021 to the rank of Staff Sergeant,” Sobejana said in a statement sent to reporters.

Prior to this, Paredes released a video message on Tuesday night saying that he “intends” to promote Diaz to the next higher rank after delivering the country’s first Olympic gold medal since it joined in the Olympics 97 years ago.

“Sgt. Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippine Air Force was enlisted, noting her huge potential as an athlete. The Armed Forces of the Philippines has consistently supported AFP athletes including Sgt. Hidilyn Diaz. She has been given a wide latitude for her to pursue training for various competitions including this Olympics,” Paredes said.

The PAF Chief also bared that they were preparing a “warm welcome” for the Olympic hero when she arrives back home and finishes her quarantine. Diaz is slated to leave Japan on Wednesday.

Staff sergeant is the fifth highest rank among senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in the PAF. It is a rank positioned above sergeant and below technical sergeant. An officer with a rank of staff sergeant receives a monthly salary of P30,000.

“We laud and support this move at the General Headquarters to mark SSgt. Diaz’ remarkable achievements in the field of sports and for bringind pride and glory to our country,” Sobejana said.

“Congratulations, SSgt. Diaz. The AFP is proud of your accomplishments and may you continue to serve as an inspiration to your fellowservice members,” he added.

Diaz was recruited into the PAF in 2013 through the military’s Direct Enlistment Program.

On Monday, the 30-year-old Zamboanga City native ruled the women’s 55 kg category in weightlifting to give the country its first Olympic gold medal since joining in 1924.

She will receive P10 million in cash incentives from the national government as mandated by the Republic Act 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act, P10 million from the MVP Sports Foundation of telco mogul Manny V. Pangilinan, P10 million from San Miguel Corp. of Ramon S. Ang, P3 million from House deputy speaker Mikee Romero, and P2.5 million from the local government of Zamboanga City.

She was also rewarded with three house and lots worth P14 million from Megaworld Corporation, another worth P4 million from Century Properties’ PHirst Park Homes Inc., and one provided by Philippine Olympic Committee Pres. Bambol Tolentino; free flights for life from Air Asia and Philippine Air Lines; and P5 million including free fuel for life from Phoenix Petroleum among others.