Mayor Sara to security sector: “don’t be complacent”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 September) — The September 2, 2016 bombing at the Roxas night market here that left 15 persons dead and 69 injured should remind security forces not to be complacent with intelligence reports even if the information may seem irrelevant, Mayor Sara Duterte said.

“This should serve as a reminder to all people in government particularly the PNP (Philippine National Police) and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) what happens when we become complacent, when we do not listen to our intelligence reports and we do not check and recheck the things that we need to do,” she said after the mass held Saturday at the memorial monument for the slain victims.

Mayor Sara Duterte lays flowers at the memorial marker of the site of the September 2, 2016 Roxas night market bombing during the mass for the second year commemoration of the attack on 1 September 2018 in Davao City. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Duterte also said the incident should also remind Dabawenyos to stay vigilant. She asked them to report to authorities if they know of any plans from any groups to destroy the city “no matter how small the information is, no matter how you – you people in the know – think it was irrelevant, no connection” and let the security sector assess its relevance.

The mayor said the deaths of the victims should inspire the people of Davao to work for the improvement of the city.

“That’s the most that we can do because we cannot turn back time but we can only move forward and something positive should come out of that incident and dapat dili ta magpakita og kahadlok (we should not fear). We should always stand tall united and we should always be resilient in being Dabawenyos,” she said.

Senior Supt. Alexander Tagum, chief of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), assured residents their security and safety remain a top priority and vowed they will do all they can to deter any terroristic plot against the city.

Tagum acknowledged there will always be threats in the city, the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte, the mayor here for 22 years. But he warned terrorists to stay out of the city or they will be the “first one to fall” if they attempt to enter here.

“Hindi tayo nagpapabaya kung mag-attempt pumasok ang mga criminal dito sa Davao City. Siguraduhin po namin na sila ang unang babagsak (We are not complacent against criminals who  attempt to enter Davao City. We will make sure they will be the first to fall),” he said

Tagum noted that the police have intensified the security in the Roxas Night Market and other areas, and tightened the intelligence gathering of any suspicious persons or activities and plans of any terrorist groups.

“Hindi lamang doble kundi talagang maigting ang pagbabantay namin dito dahil mismong buhay na namin ang iaalay namin para masiguro lamang na hindi na mauulit ang nangyari dito (Not only double. We really tightened our security watch and we are ready to offer our own lives just to ensure there will be no repeat of the incident),” he added.

Tagum also urged Dabawenyos and visitors to contribute in the shared responsibility of securing the city against terrorists.

Davao City Archbishop Romulo Valles, blesses the memorial marker at the September 2, 2016 blast site at the Roxas night market during the mass on September 1, 2018, to commemorate the second anniversary. The bombing left 15 persons dead and 69 others injured. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

In February 2018, seven members of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group who were suspects in the Roxas Night Market bombing along with two Abu Sayyaf members Arkam Isnaji and Fauzia Abdulla weretransferredfrom the Davao City Jail in Maa, Davao City to the special intensive care area of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) at Camp Bagong Diwa,  Bicutan in Taguig City.

Isnaji and Abdulla were charged with homicide for the kidnapping of John Ridsdel, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, Robert Hall and his Filipina partner, Marites Flor, who were taken from Holiday Ocean View Resort in Samal, Davao del Norte on September 21, 2015. Ridsdel and Hall were killed by their captors in 2016.

The Maute members charged with terrorism and multiple murder with multiple frustrated murder for the Roxas night market bombing in 2016 were Wendel A. Facturan, Musali U. Mustapha, TJ T. Macabalang, Zack Jaron V. Lopez, Jessy Vincent G. Original, Jackson M. Usi and Alisa A. Mamasapano.

The case is pending with the Regional Trial Court in Taguig City.

Blast survivor Lilibeth Esportuna, 27, arrived for the memorial mass along with partner Jody Mulota and brother Joel who also survived the bombing incident.

Lilibeth, a massage therapist, was at the Roxas night market with her brother, also a therapist, on the night of the blast.

A shrapnel hit Lillibeth’s head. She could neither stand nor talk audibly as the incident caused her permanent physical disabilities.

Mulota said he was thankful the city government continues to foot the bill for the medical needs of his wife who is attended to by a caregiver.

“Pasalamat at least wala sila nakalimot 2 years asa mopuyo. Salamat Presidente sa pagpasalig sa amoa dili moundang ug tabang (We are thankful to the city government for not forgetting where we live 2 years after and to President Duterte for assuring they will not stop helping us),” he said.

The mayor said a trust fund has been created to support the bombing victims. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)