MILITARY OPTIMISTIC PALARO WILL PUSH THROUGH

TUBOD, LANAO DEL NORTE, September 10, 2003 (STAR) By Lino Dela Cruz  - TUBOD, Lanao del Norte — The military hopes that the peace and order situation in this province remains stable for the holding of the Palarong Pambansa on Oct. 4-11 this year at the Mindanao Civic Center here.

"All the elements to maintain a stable peace and order condition are there and we hope it remains this way until the Palarong Pambansa is held" said Maj. Gen. Cristolito Balaoing, commanding general of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division.

The annual Palarong Pambansa which was scheduled last June was already postponed twice as Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels attacked Maigo and Kolambugan towns which resulted to deaths and injury to scores of civilians.

Based on the recommendations of the military at that time, the Philippine Sports Commission, (PSC) together with the Department of Education (DepEd) jointly assessed the situation and decided against holding the annual sports events.

Governor Imelda Dimaporo of the host province Lanao del Norte expressed similar hopes even as the provincial government and local DepEd personnel had re-started their preparation for the successful hosting of the Palaro next month.

Local traders and businessmen, including those contracted to provide food for at least 8,000 sports officials and athletes, are now busy preparing for the event even as they incurred some losses after the games were cancelled the last time, Dimaporo said.

Maj. Gen. Balaoing said that apart from the military, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 10 office will field an augmentation force to back up the provincial police to provide security.

This, as military intelligence reports reveal that the MILF attackers of Maigo and Kolambugan towns are reportedly "lying low" because their chieftain, Abdulrahman Macapaar alias Commander Bravo, is suffering from some health problems. Commander Bravo’s wound in the right leg has not yet healed and he reportedly suffers some chronic

stomach pains. There were reports Bravo may seek a good conduct pass from the military to get medical attention.

But all these intelligence reports need to be evaluated and confirmed, according to Col. Fernando Cunanan, commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s Task Force Diamond.

Maj. Gen. Balaoing,on the other hand, denied that the MILF commander has sent surrender feelers to the military.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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