Difficult to distinguish ‘terrorist from a nurse’ during COVID-19 pandemic – Mayor Sara

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 Aug) – Mayor Sara Duterte has called on Dabawenyos to stay vigilant to thwart violent extremism in Davao City through the “culture of security” following Monday’s twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu, as security forces here find it more difficult to distinguish “terrorist from a nurse” with the basic health protocols implemented to control COVID-19.

Mayor Sara Duterte. Photo from the DCDR 87.5 Facebook page

The explosions in Jolo killed 14 and wounded 75 others.

During her live interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (87.5), Duterte told the public that the city is not immune to similar terrorist attacks, recalling the September 2, 2016 Roxas Night Market bombing incident here that claimed 15 lives and injured 69 others.

The mayor said that of all places in the country, terrorists would want to target the city where President Rodrigo R. Duterte resides “just to make a statement.”

She said that authorities are having difficulty enforcing tight security measures in the city since the COVID-19 happened because health protocols, particularly the wearing of masks in public places, make it hard for them to determine suspicious individuals.

“Our health protocols are not compatible with the implementation of our security protocols, like masks and face shields. These are things that make it difficult for our security to identify. We always check, but we don’t know that it is already the one who is wearing the mask there. We cannot distinguish because before, those wearing masks are the ones who have evil plans. Now, you can no longer distinguish terrorist from a nurse,” she said.

Duterte said the public must cooperate because anyone, including loved ones, can die due to terrorism.

“The terrorists do not choose who to kill. What they know is the intent to kill, so we do not know – it could be your mother, your brother, your child, your husband, your wife. So anybody, and everybody is the target of terrorism, particularity violent extremism,” she said.

The mayor renewed her support for the Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 to end terrorism.

“If we don’t learn, if we don’t give importance, and if we don’t show care for our city and our fellow Dabawenyos, as I said, we are not immune, this will happen to us. So we should support the ‘culture of security’ here in Davao City,” she said.

Duterte asked the people to immediately submit themselves to security checks, report any information about suspicious activities and individuals to authorities, and participate in peace and order activities in the communities.

The Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command, which is based in Davao City, said in a statement that the Jolo blasts “had no direct threat in Eastern Mindanao. However, we assure the public that [EastMinCom] and its ground units will remain vigilant and in full alert.”

Lt. Gen Jose Faustino Jr., EastMinCom commander, has directed the commanders of line units to ramp up their security operations to prevent the possible spillover of the incident in different areas within Eastern Mindanao. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)