7th BIMP-EAGA friendship games start; security on red alert

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/ 9 December) — The Police Regional Office 12 has placed all police units in this city and the neighboring provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani on full alert in connection with the 7th Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Friendship Games, which opened on Saturday.

Chief Insp. Reynaldo Denila Jr., city police office spokesperson, said they have intensified their security operations to ensure the smooth and orderly conduct of the four-nation games slated to end on December 11.

“We maximized our deployment in various strategic areas, specifically in the playing venues and hotels where the delegations are billeted,” he said.

Denila said the city police office has mobilized special patrol teams and barangay-based security support units to increase their visibility in public places.

Acting on orders from Region 12 police director Chief Supt. Alex Paul Monteagudo, Denila said they have also doubled the security in various entry and exit points and established additional checkpoints within the city.

He said they launched random inspections on motorists and vehicles that were entering the city as part of their campaign against the bringing or carrying of firearms in the area.

Denila said they also sealed off the city’s oval plaza, where the annual “Pasko sa Gensan” also kicked off Saturday night.

The week-long Christmas festivities will run until Dec. 15.

The 7th BIMP-EAGA Friendship Games is jointly hosted by this city and the provinces of Sarangani and South Cotabato.

The games’ opening ceremonies was held here late Saturday afternoon while the closing ceremonies are set on December 11 in Sarangani province.

This year’s edition of the games will cover seven sports events — athletics, badminton, lawn tennis, pencak silat (artistic), sepak takraw, swimming and table tennis.

The swimming events will be held at the Olympic-standard pool of the South Cotabato Sports Complex and the Pencak Silat demonstration game will be staged at the South Cotabato Gym and Cultural Center in Koronadal City.

This city and Sarangani Province will host the badminton, table tennis, sepak takraw and athletics events.

A friendly golf tournament was initially held at the Kalsangi Golf course in Polomolok town in South Cotabato on Saturday morning for the Chefs de Mission, Assistant Chefs de Mission and sports ministers of the participating delegations.

A tradeshow and exhibit showcasing the culture, tradition, services and products of the BIMP-EAGA member-nations will also be staged simultaneous with the games.

This is the third time for the Philippines to host the BIMP-EAGA Friendship Games. The first was in 1996 in this city and the second was in 2003 in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)