Games to replace war for Philippine leader’s visit



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Monday 11 February 2013

Last update 11 February 2013 5:22 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

MANILA: Soldiers and guerrilla fighters will meet in sporting events instead of combat when Philippine President Benigno Aquino makes a historic visit to a rebel camp to promote a peace pact, officials said yesterday.
A “fluvial parade” of dozens of colorfully decorated motorboats will also welcome Aquino today when he visits the outskirts of the main base of the 12,000-member Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the country’s south.
Aquino and MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim will meet in the strife-torn island of Mindanao to hand out social security benefits to impoverished Muslim residents to show their sincerity in furthering the peace process.
Local military spokesman Col. Dickson Hermoso said both soldiers and MILF fighters would guard the area although presidential guards would handle Aquino’s personal security.

The two sides, who once fought each other fiercely, will also play “friendly matches” of football, softball and volleyball to welcome the president, Hermoso told radio station DZBB.
However popular sports like basketball were deliberately left out, he said.
“We did not include the contact games for now because there might be some people who will be provoked. They might lose their tempers and things might get heated,” the colonel said.
There are no reports of any threat to the president, Hermoso said. But he added: “We are not complacent in our security precautions. The worst-case scenario has been considered.”
Chief MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the event was historic as it as the first time for a president to enter the main MILF stronghold.
The two leaders may not have time to discuss substantive issues, he said. “The most special thing (about the event) is the confidence-building.”
Aquino’s spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the president’s visit would show the sincerity of both sides in reaching out to Muslims who are among the poorest people in the archipelago.
She said the mood would be “very festive.”
An estimated 150,000 people died in a decades-long fight by guerrilla fighters for a separate state in the southern third of the mainly Christian Philippines.
But in October last year the MILF signed a “framework agreement” with Aquino’s government committing both sides to form a new autonomous entity on Mindanao by 2016, when Aquino ends his six-year term.
The MILF vowed to give up its quest for an independent homeland in exchange for significant power and wealth-sharing in a new autonomous region.

 

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: A total of 172,000 pilgrims have arrived via 861 flights from around the world at King Abdulaziz International Airport so far, said Turki Al-Theeb, the airport’s director of media and public relations.He said the number of Haj flights are exp...
RIYADH: Saudis from all walks of life are hopeful that the visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to the United States this week will strengthen relations between the two countries and ensure a peaceful and stable Middle East.Shoura C...
JEDDAH: Security forces killed a terrorist who tried to attack a security facility in Abqaiq on Friday, the Interior Ministry said.Sgt. Ali Al-Habeeb, 47, was killed during the confrontation with the attacker, identified as Nawaf Manahi Shabib Al-Ota...
ANKARA: Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani has said that unemployment among Saudis is relatively high, pointing to the negative impact of retreating oil prices on the economy and labor market. He confirmed that the Kingdom was continuing with the impl...
JEDDAH: The country’s newly elected municipal councils should have a say in selecting mayors and secretaries general of cities, participants at a Municipal Councils Forum suggested on Thursday.They proposed that the councils should compile a list of...
DAMMAM: Many Saudis have complained that while the Kingdom has attractive local tourist spots, several charge high prices, offer poor services and lack proper hygiene.They said that Taif, Abha, Baha, Jeddah and the Eastern Province have popular resor...

Stay Connected

Facebook