Baguio delegation off to Abra for CARAA

BAGUIO CITY – Bucking security concerns, Baguio City’s delegation to the Cordillera Administrative Regional Athletic Association (CARAA) meet took off to Abra Thursday afternoon to defend the City’s title in the regional games.

This after some schools vacillated over sending their athletes to the competition because of security concerns following a bombing incident in La Paz town in the province that killed two persons last January 26.

City schools governance operations division chief Arthur Tiongan said on Thursday morning that elementary and secondary schools in the city gave their imprimatur to their student athletes’ attendance to the meet except University of Baguio which served notice of withdrawal of their athletes in a letter dated Jan. 31.

UB Vice President for Administration Rommel Ayson cited the “unstable security of (Abra) where two officers died and where their congressman and staff sustained injuries (which) prompted some parents to withdraw their children from the events as reason for their withdrawal.

“Moreover we also considered the mandate of (Department Order) DO No. 66 s. 2017 which places an emphasis on the safety of students during off-campus activities,” he said.

Tiongan who held an emergency meeting with the school officials and the athletes’ parents Thursday morning said that UB stood pat with its decision but agreed to excuse from their classes athletes who will be allowed by their parents to join the competition.

Tiongan said that most of the parents who joined the meeting had a change of heart and assured of their children’s attendance to the meet.

One parent said he changed his mind despite his earlier hesitation because he does not want the dreams of his children dashed because of fear.

“All student-athletes dream of making it to the Palarong Pambansa and they will not be able to do that if they do not join the CARAA,” he said adding that he also wants to teach his children to “stand up against oppression.”

“If we allow fear to overcome us then we are teaching them to fear possible oppressors.”

He, however, said that the Department of Education authorities should have taken it upon itself to change the venue.

“It’s like an oxymoron. How can you say that the children will be safe because they will be surrounded by policemen when the mere presence of policemen meant that dangers are lurking. You cannot just toy around with the lives and safety of children just by merely saying they will be safe,” he said.

As a concession, the parents asked the city schools division to request the host province to “never allow any politician to go to any playing venue for the safety of the children.”

The request was made on account of reports that the attack was politically motivated.

UB’s athletes were among the medal hopes of the city especially in the fields of arnis, taekwondo, swimming and archery.

Tiongan said that the City’s delegation should ideally be composed of 805 athletes and officials and they expect that despite the fray, more than 90 percent will join.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan who sent off the athletes Thursday afternoon advised the delegation to do their best in their events and at the same time to be vigilant about their own safety.

The Baguio City Police Office under P/SSupt. Ramil Saculles fielded 17 police personnel to escort the delegation to Abra.

Abra officials earlier also assured ample security measures for the athletes.

By: AILEEN P. REFUERZO

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