Valles on 2 years after the bombing: “the way we rallied together is something to remember”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 02 Sept) — Archbishop Romulo Valles underscored the importance of remembering how Dabawenyos responded and rallied together in the aftermath of the September 2, 2016 Roxas night market bombing that left 15 persons dead and 69 others injured.

“We do not thank the Lord because the incident happened but the way we responded, the way we rallied together is something to remember,” Valles said, adding how Dabawenyos responded “speaks of who we are.”

“Suppose we were in disarray, supposed we were finger pointing, suppose we were people who did not rally together, that’s embarrassing,” he said. Summing up  how Dabawenyos responded, Valles said during his 15-minute homily at the memorial mass held at the blast site: “We are not afraid of death. We are not afraid of evil acts like this. Life is here as it is.”

The mass was attended by relatives of the slain victims, survivors, Mayor Sara Duterte, leaders of the security sector and business leaders.

“The present will be so strong learning what happened in the past and in the past we saw ourselves very clearly,” he said.

Archbishop Romulo Valles blesses the memorial marker at the Roxas night market in Davao City, on the spot near where the bomb exploded on 2 September 2016. Valles officiated at the second anniversary mass on September 1, 2018, MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Valles, also President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, admired the resilience and resolve of the Dabawenyos to stand for life and their city despite being threatened.

He said the Dabawenyos can be remembered as the people who stood united during tragic bombing incident, revealing their identity as the people of Davao, they be Catholics, Moros, or Lumads, who are willing to extend their caring hands and hearts.

“What we remember were men and women who perished, who lost their lives. They were ordinary individuals who were earning their living. Innocent people. There’s no war, how can they be enemies of anybody. They were innocent lives lost,” he added.

The comforting support, care, and courage of the people during the tragic incident helped ease the pain caused by the incident, he said.

“The souls of the just, the souls of the innocent will not only be remembered by us, by families cared for.  First and foremost, the Lord does not forget them, the souls of the just will live forever,” he added.

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 were transferred from 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. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)