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)


About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

One response to “For justice to bomb victims, Duterte pins hope on resumption of peace talks”

  1. mindanaw says :

    I’ll have to comment on this.
    The moment I saw Manang Au’s tears, I felt I didn’t know what to do. I suddenly felt that the act of asking her for an interview was invasive from its conception.

    Honestly, I didn’t plan to interview her. When I approached the social welfare staff about the family, she brought me right away to Manang Au and told her I was from the media wanting to interview her.

    I was brought to her attention unprepared, even if I was holding my notebook in one hand and a pen in the other.

    Unprepared because I should have known the emotional stress it would cause my interviewee if I ask her to recount her story.

    This is the part of being a journalist when I’m not so comfortable about: when you debate which one question should be left unasked or person not to be asked.

    I felt so sorry having to cross that boundary in that moment. Thanks to her husband who came right in the defense of his wife. He asked me not to pursue the interview, putting me more tagged, humbled, but redeemed.

    I deserved to be reprimanded touching on that sensitive topic. But I was only trying to do my job, and probably getting some beating at times is part of it.

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