CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/08 August) — The celebration of the Feast of Saint Augustine, patron saint of Cagayan de Oro, will proceed despite the fears and uncertainties caused by the recent bombing incidents in parts of Mindanao.
Mayor Oscar Moreno said the local government has no intention of postponing the fiesta celebration despite the bombings that hit this city, Cotabato City and parts of Maguindanao and North Cotabato in the past three weeks.
“Why should we cancel? The celebration of the Feast of St. Augustine is a sacred tradition of our city. The people of Cagayan de Oro will not be cowed by terrorism,” Moreno said.
This developed as a Philippine Air Lines passenger plane scheduled to land at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental was diverted after a Toyota Avanza car parked at the airport’s parking lot raised suspicions it could be carrying a bomb.
But Edmundo Pacamalan Jr., Misamis Oriental provincial administrator said police found only a can of epoxy when they checked the car.
The scare at the Laguindingan Airport is the latest of reports that sent police scampering to check suspicious boxes and cars in Cagayan de Oro and other parts of Mindanao.
In Davao City, reports said that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was seriously considering the cancellation of the Kadayawan Festival scheduled to start on August 9.
On the other hand, Moreno said the Higala-ay Festival which is scheduled to start on Saturday, August 11, with the talent show of the Miss Cagayan de Oro pageant at SM City will proceed as planned.
“We will be doing everything so our people can celebrate the Feast of St. Augustine. We will stand united against any terrorism threat,” he said during a press conference.
Moreno said he will meet with Army and police officials to ask for more soldiers and policeman to be deployed in every venue of the Higala-ay Festival and events leading to the procession of St. Augustine on August 28.
Eileen San Juan, who heads the Higala-ay Festival, said the city government has decided to include all the Church-related activities like the mass wedding and mass baptism to the events that it would manage.
“We are redoubling our security preparations but we have decided that our people should continue the tradition of celebrating our fiesta,” San Juan said.
Eight people were killed and 46 others were wounded in the bombing incident that hit Kyla’s Bistro at the Rosario Arcade in Limketkai Center in Cagayan de Oro last July 26.
On Wednesday police filed multiple murder and multiple murder charges against six suspects in the blast a few hours before the Senate committee on public order chaired by Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares held a public hearing on the bombing. (See separate story)
Police alleged the suspects belong to an obscure group called Khilafa Islamiyah, which is said to be al-Qaeda-inspired. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)