DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 October) – A memorial in honor of the victims of the September 2 bombing at the Roxas night market will be unveiled on October 11, the 40th day since the blast that left 15 persons dead and 69 others injured, the chief of the City Information Office said.
CIO chief Jefry Tupas told MindaNews the memorial is “not an artwork” but a “place for serenity and peace, a place where we can all remember the victims of the bombing and offer prayers.”
Only workers are allowed inside the green makeshift enclosure where the memorial is being built.
Six of the bomb victims are still in the hospital as of September 30, Ma. Luisa Bermudo, chief of the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) told MindaNews. Bermudo said three are still confined in the Southern Philippines Medical Center while three others are in San Pedro Hospital.
The CIO reported on September 14 that 19 injured victims were still in six different hospitals in the city. As of September 30, only six have remained in two hospitals.
The blast at 9:50 p.m. on September 2 killed 10 persons on the spot while four others expired at the hospital late evening of September 2 and the early hours of September 3. The 15th victim, Vicenta Depalubos Asperin, who was six months pregnant, expired at the hospital on September 12.
Bermudo, according to the CIO report on September 14 said the City Government of Davao will continue extending financial assistance to the bomb victims. She said the victims’ hospital bills and other medical expenses will be shouldered by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
In his speech before the Filipino community at the Hotel Intercontinental in Hanoi, Vietnam on September 28, Duterte spoke of the peace process and the threat of violent extremism in Mindanao, citing what happened recently in Davao.
“It did not really generate an emotion in me”
“But you know, it comes naturally. As a matter fact, when — yung pumutok diyan sa harap ng Ateneo (when the bomb exploded in front of Ateneo de Davao University), it did not really generate an emotion in me because I knew na hihiritan talaga ako” (I knew they would hit me).
He said “tumatakbo pa lang ako ng President (I was still running for President) so I talked to them sa Abu Sayyaf and publicly I said I am extending my hand and friendship: Can we just talk about stopping this carnage of innocent people? Eh nakausap ko pumunta sila (I talked with them, they came) but they did not honor the…” Duterte did not finish his sentence. He did not also say where he met with the Abu Sayyaf and when during the campaign.
A day earlier, Duterte told the Philippine Marines in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on September 27: “when the Zamboanga campaign began in earnest. I knew that there’s gonna be an explosion somewhere. So to do in, nangyari nga, binalewala ko na lang, sanay kami eh, simbahan, airport, pantalan” (it happened. I didn’t mind it. We’re used to that. Church, airport, seaport).
Duterte was apparently referring to the Sulu campaign (not Zamboanga campaign) against the Abu Sayyaf. The bombing came nine days after Duterte waged war against the Abu Sayyaf on August 24.
“Seek them out in their lairs and destroy them… Ang mga Abu Sayyaf destroy them, period,” Duterte said in a near midnight press conference on August 24, hours after the Abu Sayyaf beheaded an 18-year old son of a court stenographer in Sulu who was kidnapped by the terrorist group on July 16.
The September 2 blast, which happened while the President was in the city, was the first act of terrorism under the Duterte administration. While mayor of Davao City for 22 years, Duterte has experienced three multiple-casualty bombings: December 1993 and the March and April 2003 bombings.
Davao City has suffered five such attacks in the last 35 years: the bombings of San Pedro Cathedral on Easter Sunday, April 19, 1981 (17 killed, scores wounded), and on December 26, 1993 (seven killed, 150 injured); the waiting shed fronting the arrivals area of the old airport terminal on March 4, 2003 (22 killed, 155 wounded), the passenger terminal at the international seaport in Davao City on April 2, 2003 (16 killed, 45 wounded); and the September 2, 2016 night market blast (15 killed, 69 wounded).
The 1981, 1993, and 2003 bombings have remained unsolved. In the 2016 bombing, charges have been filed against nine suspected perpetrators, three of them women
The morning after the September 2 blast, Duterte declared, initially a lockdown, then a state of lawlessness nationwide, and by September 4, signed Proclamation 55 declaring a “state of national emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao.”
The Proclamation has not been lifted. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)