For justice to bomb victims, Duterte pins hope on resumption of peace talks
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 April) — Four years after promising to bring
justice to the victims of the Sasa wharf bombing in 2003, Mayor Rodrigo
Duterte said he is looking at the resumption of the peace talks between the
government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for hope.
Sixteen were killed and 55 others were injured in the bombing of Davao’s Sasa
Wharf on April 2, 2003 barely a month after another bombed exploded in the
Davao International airport that killed 22 persons and wounded 145 others.
At the anniversary rites today, 48 victims and relatives of those who died lit
candles, prayed, and relived their painful memories of the incident in media
interviews. Duterte, who led the solemn rites, said justice is not elusive as some of the
suspects were captured.
But Duterte admitted the painful experience will never be forgotten.
“I hope something good will come out of the peace talks,” the mayor said
adding there will be no closure on the pain of the bombings unless justice is
He said once the suspects are held and convicted there might be legal closure.
“But there will be no closure on the pain suffered by people,” he said.
Duterte had blamed the MILF for the seaport and the airport bombings and urged
the filing of cases against its leaders. Complaints of multiple murder and
multiple frustrated murder were filed against top MILF officials led by then
chair Salamat Hashim.
Four months later, the enforcement of their arrest warrants was ordered
suspended and a new preliminary investigation was ordered to be conducted by
the Department of Justice in Metro Manila.
Porters, vendors, passengers, and bystanders in the tragic incident told
different angles of the story that night.
Aurelia Espera, who lost two children, Mark Gabriel and Gadelyn, her mother
in-law, two relatives and a house help, could not help but shed tears the
moment she was asked if she could be interviewed.
The Esperas ran a fastfood store where the bomb was left by the suspects. She
was spared when she turned her back from the table to place used dishes in the
pantry. But she was seriously injured in the blast, too.
She told MindaNews pain never left her family since the bombing. “Our only
message is for justice to reign, her husband said as he asked the media not to
pursue the interview.
Espera said justice has evaded them as they have never received updates on the
status of the cases filed against suspects. (Full story to follow)