DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/3 April)– Acting Mayor Rodrigo Duterte assured Tuesday continued educational assistance for survivors and families of the victims of the Sasa wharf bombing here in 2003 that killed 17 persons and wounded 56 others.
Marking the 10th anniversary of the bombing at the blast site, he said the assistance from the city government will continue in the next three years or “as long as I’m here.”
Duterte is running unopposed for the mayoralty post in the May 13, 2013 elections. He previously served as mayor for 19 years.
So far, the total amount extended for the educational assistance of the survivors and the dependents of the victims amounted to almost P4 million, he said, citing data from the City Social Services and Development Office.
Eighteen of the beneficiaries had since graduated and four others are completing secondary education, he continued.
Among the graduates were the five children of Nelia Tiongco, 47, who was tending her small store at the Sasa wharf gate when the bombing happened. She was wounded in the abdomen.
In an interview, she cited that aside from the educational assistance for her children who are all married now, she also received a start-up capital to rebuild her store, now located across Sasa wharf.
She told reporters during the commemoration program that she is “okay now and has nothing to complain about.”
“I have totally accepted [what] happened to me,” said Emy Dosaran, 31, who had just arrived at the wharf from Manila on board the Super Ferry vessel when the explosion happened.
She was on her way out of the gate when the bomb exploded, which she described as “a very quick incident.”
“I did not even notice it was a bomb,” Dosaran recalled.
The impact fractured her left leg that took two years to recover, she said, adding that she was able to gather the confidence to join the commemoration only three years ago.
Duterte said the city had three explosions in his 19 years as mayor, with the Sasa wharf bombing the third.
It followed the bombing at the old airport on March 4, 2003 that killed 20 persons and injured 146 others.
The bombing at the San Pedro Church on December 27, 1993 killed seven people and injured 151 others, 32 of them seriously wounded.
“This was a war of attrition. No specifics. But I think the government was able to consolidate the forces and stabilize the situation,” Duterte said.
He branded the bomb attacks as “purely terrorism.”
In 2010, Toto Akman, one of the five suspects in the Sasa wharf bombing, was convicted and sentenced to lifetime imprisonment.
The five suspects, including Akman, were reportedly acquitted in the old airport bombing incident. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)