PALARO POSTPONED AGAIN

Manila, May 9, 2003 -- Philippine Sports Commission chairman Eric Buhain 
yesterday announced the indefinite postponement of the Palarong Pambansa in 
Tubod, Lanao del Norte, adding his decision has the backing of President 
Arroyo.

Buhain's announcement came despite assurances from the Armed Forces of the 
Philippines and the Philippine National Police on the safety of the Palaro 
participants, giving Tubod the green light to hold the games if the PSC and 
the province's top officials so desire.

"I respect the declaration of the AFP and the PNP about the peace and order 
in and around Tubod, but after consultations with majority of the 
stakeholders in sports, we deemed it prudent not to hold the Palaro at this 
time when there are conflicts in other areas, however far they are from 
Tubod," Buhain said.

"The PSC is also thankful for President Arroyo's concern and support for 
the Palaro and her desire to hold the games in Tubod, which is close to her 
heart. The AFP and the PNP also did an excellent job in securing the venue 
but we also took into consideration the sentiments of the parents, the 
athletes and other stakeholders before deciding on the postponement," 
Buhain added.

In a meeting by the Legislative and Executive Development Administrative 
Council presided by the Chief Executive last Wednesday, AFP Chief of Staff 
Gen. Narciso Abaya assured the President of a trouble-free Palaro.

The President, in turn gave the PSC and Lanao del Norte Gov. Imelda 
Dimaporo and husband Cong. Bobby Dimaporo, the hosts, the go-signal hold 
the games as scheduled on May 18-25.

Buhain, after meeting with officials of the Department of Education and 
consultations with the Dimaporos and some parents, however, decided to 
postpone the games for the second time. The Palaro was originally scheduled 
to start last May 4 and last up to May 11.

"While sports is apolitical, we also feel for the innocent victims of this 
conflict in Mindanao. Sports leaders, athletes, journalists, all of us 
involved in ensuring the success of the Palaro, are praying for peace and 
the quick settlement of the conflict. We cannot play while deep in our 
hearts there are other Filipinos, especially children, who are victims of 
this conflict," Buhain said.

According to Buhain, President Arroyo and AFP and PNP leaders accepted his 
decision.

Gov. Dimaporo and Cong. Dimaporo  said they would use the remaining weeks 
to enhance their preparations."

"We are again in consultation with Education Secretary Edilberto de Jesus 
so we can plan and set a new date for the Palaro," Buhain said. "We will 
also consult with some of the coaches, so we can make a timetable." (Malaya)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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