Scout Rangers play Filipino games for peace

Aika Rey

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Scout Rangers play Filipino games for peace
'Through sports diplomacy, we engage with non-state actors like the MILF, MNLF, secessionist groups, and their supporters. We need to give peace a chance. I don't have to kill more people to win against insurgents,' says Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc

MANILA, Philippines – It’s not every day that you see Scout Rangers of the Philippine Army play games. But when they do, it is to advocate for peace.

At the 67th founding anniversary of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, Scout Rangers played shatong, a traditional Filipino game similar to baseball.

Shatong is a sticks game where a longer stick serves as the bat and a shorter stick serves as the hit. The batter hits the shorter stick and as the latter is in air, the hitter runs to marked areas or bases.

Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, 33rd Infantry Makabayan Battalion commanding officer, said he modified the game to incorporate Scout Ranger principles. 

Cabunoc said instead of playing in doubles, each team has 7 members.

“I modified it to a team with 7 members each. Scout Rangers believe in teammanship that’s why I preserved the same set-up. I want to tell people that Makabayan soldiers love the traditional games played by kids,” Cabunoc said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Cabunoc said he wants to promote peace-building through sports and games. He said they played the games as part of their build up to an event they are hosting in December with the “enemies of the government.”

“In December, we’re hosting a peace-building activity with the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) and MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) – the ‘enemies’ of the government. Similar to this, we will play games,” he said.

The government had signed peace agreements with both the MNLF and the MILF. 

“Through sports diplomacy, we engage with nonstate actors like the MILF, MNLF, secessionist groups, and their supporters. We need to give peace a chance. I don’t have to kill more people to win against insurgents,” Cabunoc said.

He said the groups have confirmed their participation. He is also trying to get the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process on board.

This is not the first time that the Makabayan Battalion had engaged in such activities. Cabunoc said they also did mud runs with the MILF in October.

“I always come up with activities to promote peace. It has considerable impact because people see that there are other ways to claim victory,” he said.

“I don’t define victory with the number of people who died. We are all Filipinos. If you can do it without firing a shot – that is the best way to come forward in winning the insurgency,” Cabunoc added. 

He added that in Sultan Kudarat, they negotiated for the surrender of 66 members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“I want to sustain the peace efforts in the area through sports diplomacy,” he added. 

Cabunoc is pursuing peace-building efforts as President Rodrigo Duterte terminated peace talks with communist rebels, and instructed military and police to “shoot” any armed NPA member they see, following his decision. (READ: How Duterte sabotaged the GRP-NDFP peace process) –

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at