DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 Sept.) – Several residents joined a memorial mass Saturday for the victims of the bombing late night on Friday that killed 14 people and wounded 71 others at the famous night market on Roxas Avenue.
Officiated by Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles and attended by City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and other local officials, the mass took place at the blast site that had been filled with flowers and lighted candles for those who died in the attack.
Many of the Dabawenyos arrived bringing pieces of paper with the following messages: “Justice for all the Victims of Davao City Bombings”, “Give Peace a Chance”, and “Stay Strong Davao.”
Duterte-Carpio assured “it is business as usual for Davao City.”
“The measure of success of terrorism is how long it takes for the victims to stand up. We must stand up now,” she said.
She said the night market will be opened Saturday if the vendors wanted to go back but assured that stricter security measures are already in place, given the close coordination between Task Force Davao and the city police office.
She appealed to the people to avoid crowded areas and report to authorities any suspicious activities “even if it seems insignificant to you.”
City police director Senior Supt. Michael John Dubria said some 200 police personnel will be deployed to secure the night market.
In a statement, Valles said local churches are saddened by the explosion.
“We condole with the families of those who lost their lives even as we pray for the eternal rest of those who died in this most unfortunate incident. May there be no more loss of lives among those who were injured and are currently in the hospitals,” he said.
He said they are praying the government will pursue the people who masterminded the explosion.
“And we pray for calmness among our people, and at the same time, we ask everyone to be vigilant. As Dabawenyos let us continue to care for one another as brothers and sisters. For all the people of Davao City, let us continue to offer prayers to the Lord to grant us peace in our community and in our country,” he added.
Night of terror
It was a regular evening for Noraisa Makalinog, 29, a vendor for three years at the night market, when a strong blast erupted around 10:30 p.m.
She told MindaNews that she was standing just a few meters away from her food stall right beside the area for masseurs where the explosion was noted.
The blast stunned her but she said was thankful that Allah (God) saved her.
All that she could remember was seeing the bloodied bodies of the dead and wounded among the monoblock chairs and tables and people running in different directions before she fainted.
She said her relatives took her to the nearby Ateneo de Davao University’s Community Center Building for safety, along with other injured victims.
“Basta mura ko og robot nga dili makalihok. Nashock ko. (I was like a robot who could not move. I was in shock),” she said. “Nakita nako ang bakal nga niagi sa ako nawong nga murag gikan sa bomba (I saw a metal debris that flew in front of my face that I believe came from a bomb),” she said.
She and some of the vendors had stayed overnight at the Freedom Park, which was several meters away from the blast site which has been cordoned off by authorities.
Carenderia owner Peter Biri, 70, said the blast shook his home and it was as loud as the explosion of a huge LPG tank.
He said that when he looked outside he saw people scamper to different directions, many of them shouting for help.
“Somehow (alarmed) but we never expected it to be like this. The authorities said no threat, only red alert,” he said.
He said he still believes that President Rodrigo Duterte and his mayor-daughter could protect the city.
Help from city government
Duterte-Carpio said the city government will assist the victims in terms of hospitalization, burial, funeral, and day-to-day expenses.
“I would like to remind other officials to stay within the bounds of their official duties according to their position. Please leave me in peace to do my job and I’ll leave you to focus on your own work,” she said.
“We will not be terrorized by this heinous crime and I call on all Dabawenyos to unite and let us help each other rise from this senseless incident. Let us remain vigilant, please report any and all suspicious activity, no matter how insignificant it may seem,” she added..
State of lawless violence
President Duterte has placed the entire country under a state of lawless violence.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella explained that Duterte’s action is allowed under Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution that states that the president “shall be the Commander-in-chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.”
“It is a different case from the existence of invasion or rebellion. Only if there is invasion or rebellion, and when public safety requires it, can he suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or declare martial law,” he clarified.
“In the spirit of unity and love of country let us remain alert to the activities of those who wish to create chaos and prayerfully agree for peace to reign in the land,” he said. “It takes courage and united people who complain less and do more to build the nation we dream of and deserve.”
Enough blood supply
Meanwhile, the blood center of the Davao City Chapter of the Philippine Red Cross asked the public not to panic saying there is still a sufficient amount of stock blood units.
“The amount of blood units that we have are still enough to serve the needs of Friday night victims,” said medical technician Gerbert Aurea.
He said blood units were already given to the victims in need and for free.
He said the Red Cross has not solicited blood donations but a Facebook post could have misled people.
During the Sasa port bombing in 2003, there was a great need for blood and the Red Cross asked for walk-in donations.
Since last night, more than a hundred people have come to the blood center expressing interest to donate.
Aurea said they were not accommodated but instead were asked to log their names and contact numbers for future reference.
He said blood units have a shelf life of about a month and that their blood center can hold an estimated 500 units. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews with a report from Jesse Pizarro Boga)