MAGUINDANAO: To promote a healthy lifestyle and create access to sport for as many people as possible, the Philippines observed the International Day of Sport for Peace and Development on Sunday with a football clinic here.
While residents are still celebrating the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bang–samoro (CAB) between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), more than 300 children of civilian, military and MILF personalities were at the playground of the Regional Madaris Development in Buluan town attending the clinic conducted by Chieffy Caligdong, captain of the national football team “Askals.”
Caligdong described the International Day of Sport celebration as “enthusiastic young advocate of peaceful coexistence among Muslim, Christian and Lumad people” harnessing sports as an avenue to advance the intents of the government-MILF final compact deal.
Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangu–dadatu of Maguindanao, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Executive Director Guillermo Iroy and Lt. Col. Markton Abu, chief of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion, led 250 participants in the 5-kilometer “fun run for peace” which kicked off at 5:30 a.m.
Mangudadatu thanked the PSC leadership, particularly Iroy for realizing the provincial government’s request to host the country’s observance of International Day of Sport for Peace and Development this year.
“Because of the PSC approval of our request, Maguindanao [known principally for notoriety in the past]has now been included in the map of sports development,” said Mangudadatu, a former college classmate of Iroy.
Maguindanao is known to be the place of clashes between government forces and local rebels including the MILF, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
This province is also reeling from vestiges of political feudalism that peaked in the massacre of 58 people including 32 media practitioners on November 23, 2009. Among the fatalities were the governor’s wife and sisters.
“Sports develop physical and mental fitness, and promote strong camaraderie—something we have long cherished,” said the governor.
Mangudadatu said this is the time to “move on to make the difference” after the province have grieved for decades over the pangs of atrocities, referring to the success signing of the CAB between the government and the MILF.
For his part, Iroy said the PSC is mandated to make sports accessible to everyone. He also stressed the importance of sports in uniting the country.
“As we celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, let us be reminded how powerful sports is in uniting people. We are all brother and sisters. Let us also encourage everyone, especially the kids, to be involved in sports so they can learn the value of discipline,” said Iroy.
Iroy joined Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Teresita “Ging” Deles, MILF Vice Chairmen Ghazali Jaafar and Mohagher Iqbal, and some top military officials in a grand kanduli or thanksgiving hosted later in the day by the provincial government for the signing of the CAB last March 27 in Malacañang.
The United Nations (UN) General Assembly approved a proclamation establishing the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace last year.
The day will be celebrated annually on April 6, the date of the opening of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.