DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/7 Feb) -- The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) announced today the revival of the sports for peace program dubbed Mindanao Friendship Games (MFG) taking place simultaneous with the week-long celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace.
The MFG, which has been dormant for half a decade, will be revived starting this year, commencing on Nov. 29 up to Dec. 5, according to Joseph Encabo, chief of staff of PSC Chairman William Ramirez.
Encabo said the "rebirth" of MFG will be held in Lanao del Norte following the provincial government’s acceptance to host anew the MFG. Lanao del Norte hosted the inauguration of the MFG in 2001.
"Gov. Khalid Dimaporo sent us a letter, confirming that the provincial government accepted the hosting of the revival of the MFG," Encabo told sports journalists during the Davao Sportswriters Association Forum.
The MFG, which had sent a strong message of peace in the region in 2001, 2002 and 2003 was scrapped in the calendar of the national sports agency in 2004 due to funding shortage.
The multi-sports competition among the island’s local government units (LGU) was launched in Tubod, Lanao del Norte in 2001, a year after the "all-out war" against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) erupted in the municipality of Kauswagan in the same province.
The war eventually spread in some other parts of the island with MILF presence.The games were then held in Cagayan de Oro City in 2002 and finally in Mati, Davao Oriental the following year.
Kicking off the preparation, Encabo said sports coordinators from various LGUs across the island, with the collaboration of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, will meet next month to discuss the staging of the MFG.
Encabo said that recently, PSC obtained a financial help of P10 million from "one company in Manila," and half of which will be used for the MFG.
The other half was allocated for the grassroots sports program. Encabo did not name the company. "That's why Chairman Ramirez is very optimistic to revive the MFG because of the agreement (financial assistance) that will be signed last week of February, " he added.
Encabo estimates that P5 to 7 million is needed for the staging of the MFG.
Last December, Ramirez mentioned the revival of the MFG as part of the measures that would be taken to enhance the national sports agency's grassroots sports program.
He had said the PSC has allotted P50 million of its 2008 annual budget to fund grassroots development programs that includes the revival of Mindanao’s "Sports for Peace" program.
The national sports agency’s budget got an increase for 2008 after Ramirez, the former Ateneo de Davao professor, defended it in both chambers of Congress. (Rico Biliran / MindaNews)