PNoy declares Aug. 16 a holiday for Davao City’s Kadayawan; Duterte mulls scrapping festival

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 Aug) — President Benigno Simeon Aquino III has declared August 16 a special non-working holiday in Davao City in celebration of the annual Kadayawan Festival but given the recent bombing incidents in two cities in Mindanao, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he will decide on August 13 if the festival will push through.

“I am putting myself on the spot, I will decide by August 13 if we will proceed with the Kadayawan Festival. If I feel in my gut that there is really danger and will (jeopardize) human lives and property, I might just scrap the whole festival,” the mayor said in a press briefing.

The Presidential declaration of holiday is contained in Proclamation 630 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. on August 1 but announced Wednesday in the website of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

Sixteen persons were killed in the bombings in Cagayan de Oro City on July 26 and in Cotabato City on August 5.

At 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, an improvised bomb exploded in Midsayap, North Cotabato but no one was injured or killed and damage to property was minimal. At 9:30 a.m. in Barangay Nabundas, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Maguindanao, seven soldiers sustained minor injuries when a roadside bomb exploded.

Abumisry Mama, spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was not a roadside bomb, that the explosion during what he said was an ambush, came from M-79 grenade launchers and a volley of gunfire.

At around 5 p.m. also on Wednesday another bomb exploded in a bridge in Datu Piang, Maguindanao but there were no reported casualties.

Duterte said several American and western embassies and consulates all over the world are under threat and “we are no exception.”

“We pray to God that it will not be repeated again but the possibilities are always there,” he added.

A decade ago, the waiting shed of the old airport was bombed on March 4 and the port was bombed on April 2.  A total of 38 persons were killed and 200 others injured during the twin blasts in 2003.

According to Duterte, an alert was issued some two months ago that the cities of Davao, Zamboanga, General Santos and Cotabato were being targeted by terroristic attacks.

Countries like the United States of America, Australia, and Canada, sent travel advisories to their nationals to refrain from traveling to Mindanao.

Mindanao has 26 provinces, 33 cities, 422 towns and 10,084 barangays.

Duterte said they cannot compete with how foreign countries gather their information. He said they validated their reports which led to the advisory.

“Prudence would tell me that as mayor I have to assess and evaluate, reassess and re-evaluate again the various intelligence (reports) as I collate them to make the final decision,” Duterte said.

The mayor flew in from Manila Tuesday evening and met with the police in a conference.

He said he asked the police to give him an assurance of the people’s safety. “If you can give me a margin of safety on a scale of 1 to 10, if I am convinced that the rating of 7.5 would ensure safety and order, we will go ahead,” he said.

Without that margin of safety, he said, “I would just like to tell you with a heavy heart to cancel everything, not because I am afraid (but because) I will not put in peril the lives of the people.”

The mayor said the police and military are doing their very best. “I can see and feel it.”

Duterte said he believes the recent bombings are related and is convinced that these are acts of terrorism. (MindaNews)