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Davao 'back to normal' after deadly blast

Philippine bishop criticizes move to suspend habeas corpus to aid terror, drug wars

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: September 09, 2016 10:51 AM GMT
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Davao 'back to normal' after deadly blast

Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao speaks with Mayor Sara Duterte after a memorial Mass for victims of the Sept. 2 explosion. (Photo by John Frances Fuentes)

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The southern Philippine city of Davao is "back to normal" a week after a bomb exploded at a popular night market, killing 15 people and wounding at least 70 others.

"There are many [police] checkpoints but I can say quickly it’s becoming normal now," said Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao.

The prelate said residents were now calm after the initial confusion.

"There was a slight decrease in the number of people who came to church last Sunday," he said, adding that it was "understandable."

"Easily and quickly, I can say it is very calm in Davao," said Archbishop Valles.

He said he would visit families of the victims to assure them of the church's support. "We will try to do something," said the prelate.

The Philippine National Police said it has already identified someone as a suspect in connection with the deadly blast.

The Abu Sayyaf terror group have claimed responsibility for the bombing.

"We already know his true identity but cannot divulge his name yet while our manhunt is ongoing," said national police chief Ronald dela Rosa.

Dela Rosa said the suspect is a member of a terrorist group but he declined to reveal the man’s affiliation, as it would affect the investigation.

 

No place for terrorism

Meanwhile, a leading church figure has appealed to the public to help authorities combat terrorism.

"There is no place for terrorism in the country, and it should stop," said Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Nueva Caceres.

The prelate, who heads the social action secretariat of the Catholic bishops' conference, urged the public to be "vigilant and responsible citizens" and help authorities address terrorism.

Another church official, meanwhile, has criticized a proposal in the Senate to suspend the writ of habeas corpus (due process) to aid the Philippine government's war on terrorism, drugs and criminality.

Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the bishops' public affairs office, said such campaigns are not a justification to surrender basic human rights.

"We are being made to believe that the only way to address the problems is to take away our only defense against possible abuses and impunity," said the priest.

Father Secillano was reacting to a proposal by Senator Richard Gordon to grant President Rodrigo Duterte the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in his intensified campaign against illegal drugs and terrorism.

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