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The Davao City Council on Tuesday approved the release of P4.5-million cash assistance for the victims of Roxas night market bombing that left 14 dead and 70 others injured.

The cash assistance, which was approved based on an urgent motion during the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) regular session, will be sourced from the City Government’s Crisis Intervention funds and incident expenses.

Lawyer Raul Nadela Jr., chief of staff of Mayor Inday Sara Duterte said the distribution of cash assistance will immediately start Tuesday night.

Each family of 14 fatalities will receive P40,000 while the 70 injured will be given P30,000 each from the Crisis Intervention Fund.

The city will also shoulder the food expenses during the wake of the 14 victims for a maximum of 10 days, and the meals of watchers of injured victims for 20 days.

The burial lot at the Davao Memorial Park including the excavation fee will be sourced from the city’s incident expenses.

Nadela added that the Mayor initially gave out cash assistance to all the blast victims from her own money.

Meanwhile, support for grieving families of the night market bomb victims as Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) Secretary Silvestre Bello III as he gave out P10,000 cash assistance to each family of the 14 dead victims and P5,000 to each injured victim.

Bello personally visited the wake of fatalities and injured victims in various hospitals on Monday afternoon.

Bello said the assistance was pooled from the Employment Compensation Commission (ECC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Council (OSHC) under DOLE.

Also, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Davao Manager Gloria C. Ybanez said Monday her office is now processing the documents needed for the payment of medical bills of all blast victims including those who were already discharged from the hospital. CIO

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Heads will roll after the Davao City bombing last Friday that killed 14 people and injured 67 more.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio allegedly wants the commander of Task Force Davao Col. Henry Robinson Jr. replaced. Robinson assumed the post only last May 2016.

It was learned that the mayor is also contemplating on replacing the newly-installed Davao City Police Office director Sr. Supt. Michael John Dubria. Dubria just assumed the post last June 2016.

No replacements have been identified so far for the two posts.

Mayor Duterte is said to be very disappointed with Friday night’s bombing which happened under the very nose of the police and Task Force Davao. TF Davao personnel as well as police are always seen in the Roxas Boulevard night market securing the area.

Thousands frequent the area every night for its ukay-ukays, food stalls, and massage services especially during the weekends.

Mayor Duterte is also set to offer a P1 million reward money for anyone who could give information about the suspect/s and another P1 million that could arrest the perpetrator/s who placed the IED in the massage area of Roxas Boulevard that evening.

The police said that they already have about three to four persons-of-interest. Two of them are said to be females. There are also about eight witnesses who gave information to the authorities that led to the identification of the POIs.

Witnesses earlier claimed that a tall bearded man left a bag in the massage area and hurriedly left. Few seconds after, the explosion happened.

PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said they are currently cross-matching the POIs to a gallery of known terrorists.

Dela Rosa said they are also waiting for the post-blast report of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit. Initial findings showed that the IED is crafted from a mortar round based on the fragments taken from the blast area.

According to dela Rosa, the explosive is closely similar to the signature IED of Abdul Manap Mentang, the suspect in the Valentine’s Day bombing of the Davao City Ecoland Terminal in 2005. Mentang remains at-large.

Dela Rosa said it could be possible that Mentang is involved in the night market explosion in Roxas last Friday night.

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Three suspects, two females and one male, are being looked into by the police authorities that may have a hand in the IED blast Friday night here in Davao City that killed 14 people and wounded 67 more.

In a press conference Saturday evening, PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said that witnesses pointed to three persons of interest that could have left the IED in the massage area of the Roxas Boulevard night market.

Dela Rosa did not give more details though pending their investigation. He said they are currently cross-matching the three personalities to a gallery of known terrorists.

Dela Rosa said they are also waiting for the post-blast report of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit. Initial findings showed that the IED is crafted from a mortar round based on the fragments taken from the blast area.

According to dela Rosa, the explosive is closely similar to the signature IED of Abdul Manap Mentang, the suspect in the Valentine’s Day bombing of the Davao City Ecoland Terminal in 2005. Mentang remains at-large.

Dela Rosa said it could be possible that Mentang is involved in the night market explosion in Roxas last Friday night.

Meanwhile, PRO XI Director Manuel Gaerlan confirmed they have eight witnesses who could help in their investigation. Gaerlan however refused to give their identities.

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President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of lawless violence few hours after a blast that ripped through a crowded night market here in Davao City Friday evening.
Speaking to the media early morning Saturday, Duterte said that the declaration would mean that there would be intense military and police presence and activities in accordance with the “orchestration of the national government”.

The last time a state of lawlessness was declared was back in 2003 after the twin bombings here in Davao City that hit the old Davao airport and Sasa wharf.

Duterte however clarified that the state of lawless violence is not a martial law declaration as there will be no curfews and no suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

Duterte visited hospitals and funerals homes where the victims were brought and assured the victims and their families that the government would handle all their financial needs brought about by the explosion.

As of this morning, police authorities confirmed 14 deaths and 71 injuries from the explosion along Roxas Boulevard Friday evening. Ten died on the spot.

The Abu Sayyaf Group is reported to have claimed responsibility from the said explosion.

President Duterte admitted that they have been expecting retaliatory attacks from the Abu Sayyaf in light of the ongoing intense military operations in Sulu.

A doctor from the Southern Philippines Medical Center who requested anonymity claimed to have also received a text message warning him of an impending terrorist attack hours before the Roxas explosion.

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“Like a slave” was how Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad described his almost one year in captivity in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Jesus Dureza said Kjartan told him that there was not a single day that the Norwegian had dreamt of getting out from the clutches of his captors.

He said that Sekkingstad was not fed intentionally by the Abu Sayyaf to weaken him so he could not escape.

Thus, Dureza said, September 17 was a “final liberation” for Sekkingstad.

Dureza said they worked for the release of the four kidnap victims since day one of their capture on September 21, 2015. He lamented that of the four only two survived — Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor.

Robert Hall and Dureza’s personal friend John Ridsdel were beheaded by the bandits after the ransom demand was not met. The kidnappers demanded a P300 million ransom for each of the victims.

Dureza revealed that Ridsdel’s family offered money in exchange for his friend’s liberty. But the Abu Sayyaf did not accept it is was way below what they demanded.

Thus, Dureza said, he is not keen on believing rumors that the family of Sekkingstad paid P30 million ransom for the Norwegian’s liberty. The secretary revealed that the rumored ransom of Sekkingstad was just half the amount the Ridsdel family earlier offered but was not accepted by the ASG.

Dureza theorized that the real reason of Sekkingstad’s release was because the of the intense military operation against the ASG.

“Because of the military operation the ASG have to let go of their “baggage” (hostages) but also there maybe are other factors,” Dureza said.

Sekkingstad earlier admitted when interviewed immediately after his release that they have experienced numerous firefights between the ASG and the government forces. The kidnap victim said that one bullet even landed inside his backpack which he is keeping as a memento.

Dureza said that when he first met Sekkingstad, his only worldly possession was a backpack with an empty water jug and that the Norwegian was holding on to it like a treasured item.

Dureza said Sekkingstad would be traveling back to Norway but the Norwegian promised to return to Davao which he called home for the past 7 years.

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Three city councilors conducted an ocular inspection Wednesday morning in several wharves in Davao City to see if the sea vessel operators are complying with the law requiring all motorized seacrafts to have their passengers wear or hold lifejackets while on voyage.

Councilors Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr. of the Committee on Public Safety; Al Ryan Alejandre of the Committee on Tourism and Beautification; and Victorio Advincula Jr. of the Committee on Social Services first visited the Sta. Ana wharf where several sea vessels going to the Island Garden City of Samal are docked.

Before the three councilors arrived, they have already coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard stationed in Sta. Ana wharf. PCG personnel were already checking on the passenger sea vessels docked at the said wharf for compliance.

Mario Reta, owner of a boat plying the Davao and Isla Reta route, said that there is no need for the passengers to be wearing lifejacket as their vessel is a closed-deck vessel. He reasoned out that only the open-deck vessels are required to wear a lifejacket.When the councilors arrived in the wharf, they readily checked the passenger vessels and noted that Isla Reta passengers are not wearing lifejackets while waiting for the start of their voyage.

Councilor Abellera confronted Reta about their non-compliance that led to a heated exchange. This prompted Abellera to call Maritime Industry Authority 11 (Marina) director Felisa Orongan to give light on the issue.

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The air quality reading in Davao Region has remarkably improved over the weekend after two days of consecutive rains which lasted for almost an hour each.

The Environmental Management Bureau’s Air Quality Management Section said that the particulate matter reading last Sunday was less than 10 micrometer while the microgram per cubic meter registered at 43.

This is an improvement from the previous reading of 65-93 microgram per cubic meter from October 17-24. Health authorities said that once it reaches 155 and more, then then the air quality becomes dangerous especially to those who have respiratory problems.

The EMB said that the air quality has improved from fair to good. The agency credited the improvement to the northerly wind and the heavy downpour during the weekend.

Asked how long they expect the haze to stay in the country, the EMB said that it will totally depend on the source of the haze. The haze is believed to have come from the Indonesia fires.

For now, health authorities said, people can still do their usual normal activities in the open air.

Those who have respiratory ailments are however advised to limit any outdoor activities and to wear the appropriate mask, in this case a N95 mask, that would filter out contaminants in the air.