Last Friday, 02 September 2016 at around 2210H PHT, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), and possibly with the collaboration of powerful drug lords, detonated an improvised explosive devise (IED) in the middle of Davao City’s busy and crowded Roxas Night Market that killed 14 people and injured 67. Most of the victims were getting a street massage or giving a massage, as well as eating street food or vending street food.
Upon hearing about the blast, I immediately went to the site of the bomb explosion to document it as part of the commitment of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) to contribute to the information and communication technology resources of the Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Network in the Philippines.
Here was the video report I immediately dispatched to our constituencies:
Peaceful defiance against terror. Two nights after the blast, the volunteers, staff, and management of both the PeaceBuilders Community and the Coffee For Peace went back to the Roxas Night Market and joined many of our fellow Davao residents —
- to spend some quiet moments in prayer, paying respects to those who lost their lives and sending positive energies to those who are still suffering from injuries — telling the terrorists that they failed in terrorizing us;
- to eat dinner so that the street food vendors who survived the terrorists’ bomb would continue their livelihood and that business will go with better determination — telling the terrorists that they failed in terrorizing us;
- to get massage in memory of those street massage attendants and clients who were killed in the blast, done by the cowardly act of the terrorists — telling the terrorists that they failed in terrorizing us.
With our small number but loud strategic voices, we said: “We will not be terrorized by this cowardly act!”
Our initial video report had 60,000+ ‘views’ and 1055 ‘shares’. Many of our friends voluntarily sent money so we can treat others for dinner and massage where the tragedy happened.
CNN Philippines noticed us. They covered our first evening on the blast site and broadcasted it nationwide!
Here’s a copy of their report which was published last Monday, 05 September 2016:
The Abu Sayyaf Group. The ASG is Southeast Asia’s most notorious terror group. They beheaded two Canadians in recent months. They are involved in political corruption, crystal-met distribution, weapons trading, and kidnap-for-ransom activities. Their fellow Bangsamoro people are tired of them. The legitimate Bangsamoro rebel groups–namely the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)–disclaim the ASG as an Islamic group and are now allied with the Government of the Philippines (GPH) in its pursuit against ASG. The police and military believe that the ASG were already isolated and were pressured politically and militarily. At the time of this writing, both the military and the police are looking at the direct correlation between the government’s campaign against the ASG in Sulu and the Davao blast.
The ASG operates mostly in Basilan, Sulu, and TawiTawi — the island provinces south of Mindanao. PBCI is actively working in these areas in partnership with other organizations working for justice and peace. Last month, I conducted an advanced Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) training modules among the leaders of our PAR communities in these provinces.
Spiting Duterte. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was our mayor in Davao City before he was elected as president in a landslide victory last May 2016. Among his priorities are:
- to prevent the Philippines to be totally controlled by narco-politicians who are also corrupting our government systems, proliferation of illegal drug users (1.3 million addicts; 700,000 users and pushers have surrendered), and increasing criminality in a nation of 100 million;
- to stop the various armed conflicts in the land by opening his government to rebels like the MILF, MNLF, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP is the umbrella front of the revolutionary forces adhering to Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Thought), and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA is the armed group of the indigenous peoples of Northern Philippines);
- to clean up the government from corruption to attract more investors, thus perpetuating a neo-liberal economic policy; and,
- to stop ASG with the help of Nur Misuari and other tribal leaders who belong to the MNLF and MILF.
Duterte became known as an “iron-hand mayor” of Davao City where the law is taken seriously by the people. He was accused of maintaining a death squad against drug pushers, drug lords, criminal syndicate bosses, and their operatives. Since he became president last 01 July 2016, he started a War on Drugs.
- There were legitimate instances when the Philippine National Police (PNP) killed drug syndicate operatives and bosses in police operations where the outlaws reportedly exchanged fire with the police.
- A couple of police generals who were involved in drugs and criminal activities were arrested and have been administratively and criminally charged. According to some reliable sources, other police, military, and government officials who might be involved in illegal drug trade, along with their partners who are drug lords and criminal heads have started killing their less-trusted downlines who might spill too much information if caught in this War on Drugs.
- To make worse things worst, traditional politicians who have been in feudal wars against other ‘tra-po’ families reportedly hitch-hiked on this spate of killings to eliminate their long-term enemies.
All these factors combined, more than 2,000 precious lives were killed since Duterte became president. The Western media lumped all these as extra-judicial killings.
Davao City was bombed to shame and to spite Duterte. He was in the city last Friday when the bomb explosion happened. The ‘Davao model’ was his “show and tell” place for his vision of a new Philippines. But then, he was not able to prevent the ASG, perhaps aided by drug lords and angry former generals, from killing 14 people and injuring 67 in the middle of a supposed-to-be-happy place in a supposed-to-be-safe city.
Davao is back at Roxas Night Market. On the third night after the blast, more of our volunteers, staff, and leaders from PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. and from Coffee For Peace came out, along with hundreds of Davao residents, to make a stronger statement:
While still crying for those
who were killed in this terrorist act,
while still fervently praying for
the healing of those who are injured,
while we condemn this cowardly act
of terrorism and all killings of human lives,
while being vigilant and wise
in our day-to-day living —
we’ll continue to have dinner
at Roxas Night Market;
we’ll continue to get a massage
at Roxas Night Market;
we’ll continue to buy thrift clothings
at Roxas Night Market; and,
together we’ll peacefully defy terror
and live normally.Management, Staff, & Partners PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. and Coffee For Peace, Inc.
Here is the summary of our 4-hour party compressed in a 3-minute video: