GMA TO OPEN 'TUBOD PALARO' IN LANAO DEL NORTE

DAVAO CITY, OCTOBER 24, 2003 (STAR) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo makes another trip to Mindanao tomorrow to put sports in the forefront of her programs for peace and progress in the region when she finally declares open the long-delayed Palarong Pambansa in Tubod, Lanao del Norte.

The Chief Executive’s visit to Tubod counts as the latest of her many other trips to Mindanao, but is the first for the Mindanao Palaro that was postponed thrice before Mrs. Arroyo said that she wanted the annual games to stay in Tubod.

The President’s presence in the Palaro opening also proves her full confidence on the peace process jointly initiated by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Government forces and MILF rebels have agreed to cease armed hostilities in the area and revive the long-stalled peace talks.

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Eric Buhain yesterday said local officials are also upbeat on the Palaro and are ready to welcome the more than 7,000 delegates from 14 regions.

"Local officials, led by the tandem of Cong. Bobby Dimaporo and his wife Gov. Imelda Dimaporo, have assured a peaceful stay for the delegates," Buhain said. "They are also thankful to President Arroyo, whose presence does not only lend prestige to the meet but also assure stability in the region."

Buhain also said Mrs. Arroyo is thankful the Palaro is finally pushing through, saying the Games has been among the Chief Executive’s priorities in government’s grassroots development program in sports.

"President Arroyo really backed the Palaro in Tubod," Buhain said. "She never wavered in her decision to keep the Games in Mindanao. The President is hands-on in her Mindanao National Initiative or ‘Mindanao NATIN’ program."

Gov. Dimaporo, meanwhile, said: "The President has been very supportive of our hosting of the Palaro. And we are very grateful that she accepted our invitation for her to grace the Games’ opening."

The Tubod Palaro was shelved twice last year due to uncertainties in peace and order in the region. Tubod was also supposed to host the Games in 2002 but hostilities between government forces and the MILF forced the PSC to move the Palaro to the Bicol Region.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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