“With that grassroots sports budget, we will revive Mindanao’s Sports for Peace through the Mindanao Friendship Games (MFG),” said PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez.
The national sports agency will have an increased budget for 2008 after Ramirez, the former Ateneo de Davao professor, successfully defended it in both chambers of Congress.
"We have a lot of genuine grassroots sports programs but we can’t implement them due to lack of funds. These are what we explained during the budget hearing at the House and the Senate," he said in previous interview.
The MFG, which had sent a strong message of peace in the region subsequent to its three staging, 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 in Mindanao was launched in Tubod, Lanao del Norte in 2001, a year after the “all-out war” staged against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that sparked in the municipality of Kauswagan in the same province.
It was then held in Cagayan de Oro City in 2002 and finally in Mati, Davao Oriental the following year.
Aside from Mindanao’s sports for peace, the PSC will also revive the Philippine National Games and boost up the Palarong Pambansa, a multi-sports competition for elementary and high school students nationwide.
Ramirez said the PSC intends to strengthen its grassroots development program in search for new talents for the national team in the future.
The grassroots sports allocation will be used also to boost the Philippine Sports Institute, rehabilitation of the boxing gym and of the velodrome, among others, he said.
In related development, Ramirez said they have allocated P30 million for the country’s participation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (Rico Biliran / MindaNews)