Davao City

Davao remembers deadly airport bombing 20 years later

Ferdinand Zuasola

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Davao remembers deadly airport bombing 20 years later

REMEMBERING. Davao City government officials and family members of those killed in the Davao airport bombing in 2003 mark the 20th anniversary of the attack in Sasa on Thursday, March 2.

City Government of Davao

Davao officials and the victims' loved ones offer flowers, and light candles at the site of the deadly 2003 bomb attack in Sasa

DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – The city government of Davao marked the 20th anniversary of the March 4, 2003 bomb attack on the city’s airport that killed nearly two dozen people and hurt more than 100 others. 

A ceremony, attended by top local government officials and the victims’ families, was held on Thursday, March 2, a day before the Davao holiday because of its 86th Charter Day.

The airport bombing, which took place at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport, killed 22 people and injured at least 155 others.

The 2003 attack, blamed on terrorists, particularly the Jemaah Islamiyah, took place amid a controversy over the Arroyo administration’s support for the United States-led “war on terror.”

Local officials and the victims’ loved ones offered flowers, and candles were lit at the bombing site in Sasa.

The city government had continued to provide financial assistance to 127 dependents of those killed and injured in the airport bombing, with 14 beneficiaries having completed tertiary education as of 2023.

A day earlier, Davao Mayor Sebastian Duterte called on residents to be active participants in the “culture of peace and security campaign” of the city government during the opening ceremony for the month-long Araw ng Dabaw celebration at the Rizal Park. 

“Our city is getting bigger and bigger. Our population is ballooning fast. We need each other’s understanding and cooperation for our city to grow peacefully and prosperously,” Duterte said.

He also urged residents to take extra care and report any unattended bag found in public places directly to authorities during the month-long Davao celebration.

It was a bomb placed in a backpack that was exploded at a busy waiting area of the airport 20 years ago.

Colonel Alberto Lupaz, the city’s police chief, said authorities have tightened security measures and urged collaborative efforts to ensure a safe and secure Araw ng Dabaw celebration for locals and visitors.

Although Davao traditionally started celebrations of its 1937 cityhood on the first day of March, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. declared Friday, March 3 as a special non-working holiday in Davao City, moving the day to the nearest weekend due to the national government’s policy of “holiday economics.” – Rappler.com

Ferdinand Zuasola is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.

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