DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 Feb) — The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has no plans to revive the ill-fated Mindanao Friendship Games, a sports for peace program aimed to help secure peace in Mindanao and promote the island.
In an interview, PSC Commissioner Chito Loyzaga said the new sports agency leadership under Chairman Richie Garcia, thus far, has not discussed the revival of the MFG.
“We have not discussed the revival of MFG in our board meetings,” said Loyzaga who was in this city last week for a Sports Management Seminar.
“I want to be honest with you,” the former professional basketball player-turned-PSC Commissioner told reporters.
The MFG 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.
It had sent a strong message of peace in the region in 2001, 2002 and 2003 but was scrapped in the calendar of the PSC in 2004 reportedly due to funding shortage.
After half a decade of dormancy, talks to bring the MFG to life came out following the announcement made by the sports agency in 2008 and a non-government organization in 2009
But the pronouncement frustrated Mindanawon sport enthusiasts and peace advocates.
The focus of the PSC “this time” is the welfare of the national athletes, according to Loyzaga who pointed out that cost0cutting measures are being implemented in the agency to save money for our athletes.
“We have limited funds and the substantial budget of the PSC goes to the athletes and international events like the Southeast Asian Games, “he said.
Loyazaga said “we understand” your desire to stage back the MFG, which was last held in Mati, Davao Oriental in 2003.
“Maybe, in the future,” said Loyzaga who went to Digos City to inspect the newly-built Davao del Sur Sports Complex upon the invitation of Gov. Douglas Cagas.
Former Davaoeno PSC Chairman William Ramirez has said the “MFG can put us together in one place and play despite our differences in religion, culture and status,”.
“In MFG, no one bothers to ask your religion or status. We just play and develop camaraderie and friendship through sports,” said Ramirez, who organized the MFG.
According to the MFG charter distributed during the Mindanao Sports Summit three years ago in Tubod, Lanao del Norte, the fundamental principles of the games are developing champions for talent identification to the national pool, sporting brotherhood for Christians, Muslims and Lumads and sharing culture.
“The MFG not only offers competition and development but endeavors to give similar benefit to a Mindanaoan by adopting a culture from one place, integrating positive values of one cultural characteristic,” it said. (Rico Biliran/MindaNews)