As we all know, the City of Davao is considered as the ‘Most Peaceful City in the Philippines’ and ranked 87th fastest growing City in the world. Even so, it has experienced various terrifying events in the past with innocent civilians as victims: locals and foreigners; Christians, Muslims, and Lumads; adults, women and children. All of these acts were considered Terrorism based on available literature. The Commemorative Monument of Peace and Unity in Davao City with the Legislative Building in the background.
To enumerate, the first recorded violence attributed to terrorism in Davao City was on Easter Sunday, April 19, 1981 at the Roman Catholic San Pedro Cathedral – 17 were killed and more than 150 were wounded in a grenade attack. Another grenade attack on the same cathedral happened on December 27, 1993 – 6 died and at least 130 more were wounded. The third attack was in 1995 known as the All Souls Day bombing – a dozen were killed and about 100 wounded. San Pedro Cathedral is just across the road from the SP Building of Davao City. Terrorism has only became a serious topic after the 9/11 attack in the United States. For Davao City, post 9/11 attacks also became more violent and serious. Topping the list is the bombing of Davao International Airport on March 4, 2003 where a homemade bomb exploded at the waiting shed fronting the Davao International Airport killing 21 and wounding at least 146. Less than a month later, 17 people were killed and more than 70 were injured when a bomb exploded near a barbecue stand in a row of food stalls by the Sasa Wharf ferry terminal on April 2, 2003. So far, the last recorded incident considered as terrorist attack in Davao City was the Valentine's Day bombing that killed a 12 year-old boy and injured five others when a bomb exploded at the Davao City Overland Transport Terminal on February 14, 2005. This bombing was simultaneously instigated in Makati City and General Santos, which claimed the lives of 8 people and injured dozens of innocent civilians, and was claimed to be orchestrated by the Abu Sayyaf Group, a notorious local terrorist group, in retaliation for the military offensive launched by government troops in early 2005. An Indonesian national and two Filipino members of the Abu Sayyaf Group were sentenced to death in connection with the Valentine's Day bombings.
B. Local Chief Executive’s Perspective
The best that Davao City can do against potential terrorist attack is to be vigilant and the use of diplomacy to ward off violence. Everybody should raise their level of vigilance. The first "Davao City Anti-Terrorism Forum" initiated by the City Government of Davao on November 24, 2010 with the aim of creating awareness and understanding of terrorism and raising the level of vigilance of all stakeholders. Hence, the first "Davao City Anti-Terrorism Forum" was undertaken by the City Government on November 24, 2010 with the aim of creating awareness and understanding of terrorism and raising the level of vigilance of all stakeholders. It was held at the Grand Men Seng Hotel attended by Barangay Officials, City Government employees, military and police heads, as well as leaders from the private sector. The initiative, coupled with continuing information dissemination prove to be effective and fruitful as evidenced by what Dabawenyos currently enjoy – Peace and Development.
C. Sustaining the Gains
Once people enjoy peace and development, they should not be complacent of what they are experiencing because terrorism can strike anytime and anywhere. Appropriate sustainment is needed through constant information drive and appropriate evaluation of stakeholders’ awareness level. This is the main reason why the City Government of Davao conducted the “Davao City Anti-Terrorism Forum 2012” in order to inculcate the imperatives for sustained stakeholders’ awareness on anti-terrorism in Davao City on June 1, 2012 at the...