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PBA legends, Villanueva visit ARMM, supports peace

 • 14:15 PM Thu Nov 26, 2015
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By: 
John Unson
PBA legend Marlou Aquino pose with journalists during a visit at ARMM in Cotabato City Nov. 25, 2015. (JMU)

COTABATO CITY -- Senatorial candidate Joel Villanueva and eight retired Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) legends on Wednesday committed support to the domestic peace initiatives of the executive department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).Villanueva, accompanied by the erstwhile PBA players, among them Kenneth Duremdes and Gerry Codinera, said, while at the office here of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, that they came over for special shoot for peace” matches with regional officials.A team of ethnic Maranaw mayors from Lanao del Sur, a political bailiwick of Hataman, has also been pitted with the PBA legends at the Cotabato City State Polytechic College Gymnasium.The basketball games, to be held Wednesday night at the gymnasium here of the Cotabato City State Polytechnic Collage, were organized by Villanueva, Hataman, the ARMM’s regional vice governor, Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, and Engineer James Mlok, chief of Maguindanao’s 2ndDistrict Engineering Office.Hataman and Villanueva told reportersat a luncheon banquet tendered by the ARMM governor, the shoot for peace” matches are meant to highlight cross-section cooperation in furthering the Mindanao peace process.The retired PBA legends comprising Villanueva’s group include Marlou Aquino, Bobby Jose, Rodney Santos, Bal David, Bonbon Costudio and Roger Yap.Villanueva said they agreed to come to the seat of the ARMM government in Cotabato City for the friendly basketball games without hesitation, convinced of Hataman’s successes in complementing President Benigno Aquino III’s Southern Mindanao peace process.Villanueva, in an informal dialogue with reporters here, said a big number of out-of-school adolescents and Moro adults in the autonomous region graduated from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) since 2010, something the ARMM government need to sustain in support of the socio-economic agenda of the Mindanao peace process. I’m glad Mujiv (Hataman) is doing his homework with regards to that,” Villanueva said.Villanueva had served as TESDA director prior to his filing of candidacy for a slot in the Senate under the Liberal Party, where the reelectionist Hataman also belong. I support the peace process,” Villanueva said, referring to the on-going peace overture between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.Duremdes said he is hoping the government-MILF peace initiatives can address the decades-old security and political problems in Mindanao. If basketball can be a vehicle for peace among all people in ARMM, we might as well join hands together and help hasten the peace process through sports,” he said.Codinera said he wants the bilateral government-MILF peace process to achieve its objectives.

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