Summer capital of Maguindanao hosts 2017 ARMM athletic meet

SPORTS • Sun Mar 5, 2017 01:13 PM  •  95   0
By John Unson
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MAGUINDANAO – Authorities have sealed all entry and exit routes in the “summer capital” of Maguindanao province, venue of the March 6 to 10 athletic meet in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, ARMM’s police director, on Sunday said personnel of the 5th Marine Battalion will help them secure the municipality, where there are now more than 2,000 delegates from the five provinces of the autonomous region.

North Upi is the summer capital of Maguindanao. It is a hinterland town with a predominantly non-Muslim ethnic Teduray population.

John Magno, regional secretary of the Department of Education-ARMM, said he has instructed all superintendents of public schools in the autonomous region to take advantage of the five-day regional  meet to  foster cultural and religious solidarity among Muslim and non-Muslim athletes.

“While Islam is the common religion, athletes from across the autonomous region have different ethnic identities. We also have athletes who are Christians. This is a good chance for renewing friendships and building religious unity,” Magno said on Sunday.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The present ARMM administration is involved in various programs meant to strengthen unity among the region’s culturally-diverse Samah, Tausug, Maguindanaon, Maranaw, Yakan, Badjao and Teduray communities.

Officials led by ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu will officiate on Monday afternoon the symbolic kickoff rite for the five-day regional meet.

Mangudadatu said he and North Upi Mayor Ramon Piang are elated with the opportunity to host in Maguindanao’s summer capital this year’s ARMM regional meet.

“The 2017 Palarong ARMM is a good opportunity for us to show delegates from other ARMM provinces that there is fragile peace now in Maguindanao,” Mangudadatu said.

North Upi is a major beneficiary of Mangudadatu’s Maguindanao Program for Education and Community Empowerment (MagPEACE) college scholarship grants.

The MagPEACE has dozens of Teduray, Christian and Muslim scholars in the municipality. The program now has more than 7,000 college scholars from the 36 towns in Maguindanao.

Security has been tight since Friday night in the surroundings of the school campuses housing Palaro delegates from different ARMM provinces.

Battle-ready combatants of the Philippine Marines under Lt. Col. Francus Julius Buyucan have been markedly visible in strategic spots in North Upi as part of the security preparations for the athletic event.

Buyucan is the commanding officer of the 5th Marine Battalion, which is based in the municipality. The battalion is a component unit of the 1st Marine Brigade, whose units are deployed in seaside towns in Maguindanao and in Sultan Kudarat province in Administrative Region 12.
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