Duterte gives P2 million in cash to blast victims, kin
ZAMBOANGA CITY — Josebel Garcia, 40, wept openly as President Rodrigo Duterte approached the hospital bed of her husband, Wilbert, who was one of the nine wounded in the July 31 bombing in the city of Lamitan, Basilan province, that killed 11 persons.
Josebel’s were tears of relief because her husband survived what some officials said was the first case of suicide bombing in the country.
“My husband is alive despite the powerful bomb,” said Josebel after the President personally handed to her husband P100,000 in cash, a mobile phone, a Casio G-shock wristwatch and a medal for the Order of Lapu-Lapu.
“I have many children and this is a great help to us,” said Josebel.
First for Cafgu
It was the first time that militiamen, members of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu), received the Order of Lapu-Lapu, created by Executive Order No. 17 originally for heroes of the war on Islamic State in Marawi City.
Garcia and the eight others wounded in the blast, including a junior Scout Ranger officer, 1st Lt. Rojean Rodriguez, received the medals from the President and certificates of ownership of Glock 9 pistols.
Sgt. Mike Elumba, 32, a Scout Ranger and among six Rangers who responded to the alert about the van wired with explosives, said he was grateful that the President spent time to visit the wounded.
“President Duterte did not neglect his troops,” said Elumba, who suffered shrapnel wounds.
The President visited families of those who died and the wounded four days after the blast.
Media were kept off the encounter between the President and victims of the blast and only top military and police officers were allowed near the activity held at Don Basilio Navarro Hospital inside the Western Mindanao Command headquarters.
Among those who received financial aid was a female civilian and nine relatives of those who died.
The families of those who died got P100,000 and mobile phones each.
Among those who were killed in the blast were Cpl. Samad Jumah, militiamen Muid Monda, Adzian Abdulla, Omar Teteng, Hermilito Gapo Jr. and civilians Hadja Radia Monda, Rosa Inso, Rosida Teteng and her son, Garry.
One of those who were at the blast scene to treat the wounded, Dr. Arlyn Jawad Jumao-as, executive director of the group Save the Children of Basilan from War and Armed Conflict, recalled the stories she heard from some of the survivors who helped stop the van at Magkawit Patrol Base in the village of Bulanting in Lamitan.
Jumao-as, who worked with some psychiatrists to heal the trauma suffered by survivors, cited the account of Gregorio Inso, one of the militiamen who survived the blast.
Inso said Pfc. Jumah Ammad, of the 19th Special Forces Company and militiamen CAAs Muid Monda, Omar Teteng and Adzian Abdullah had stopped the van to inspect the vehicle.
“They had suspicion already when they saw some wires,” said Jumao-as.
Ammad asked a militiaman to relay the information to a nearby Scout Ranger camp.
Ammad, she said, asked for someone who spoke Arabic to talk with the van driver and found a former overseas Filipino worker who spoke the language.
“They sensed the danger, but they never expected the van will blow up,” Jumao-as said.
“My heart bleeds because a boy also died,” the doctor said. “He was sleeping then in one of the bunkers.”
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