DAVAO CITY—The educational assistance of the City Government for the children of the victims of the 2003 Sasa Wharf bombing continues, City Social Services Development Office head Maria Luisa Bermudo said over the weekend.
Fourteen years after the incident that killed 15 civilians and injured 46 others, Bermudo said the city has sponsored over 500 scholars in the different colleges and universities in Davao.
Bermudo said as long as the student shows willingness to continue his or her studies, the city will provide them educational assistance, especially if they will not stop schooling, change course, or transfer schools without informing their office.
“The beneficiaries of our educational assistance can choose their own school, whether it’s a public or a private school. They can even choose their own course. We won’t impose any course on them that they do not want,” she said.
“They just need to follow the rules set by the city government, like when they change course they should immediately inform us. The family should continue monitoring their children, and they should not stop their studies,” Bermudo added.
Over the years, the city has spent around P5 million for the educational assistance of the survivors of the Sasa bombing alone, whether severely or moderately injured, CSSDO records showed.
On Sunday, the families and victims of the bombing gathered at the blast site to commemorate the anniversary of the incident.
Joel Torrevillas, 30, a resident of Tibungco district here, was just 17 years old at that time. He was a porter at Sasa when the explosion occurred.
“I was having a snack at a food stall then,” Torrevillas said in the vernacular. “A kid was playing behind me, and then I heard an explosion. I woke up a month after because of complications [from the blast].”
Torrevillas was just a few meters away from the bomb when the explosion took place. He was saved by the child playing behind him, who died after the incident.
In 2014, Torrevillas underwent another surgery because a splinter was left in his lungs. He could barely use his right arm after the incident.
A year later, joint operatives of Police Regional Office 12, Military Intelligence Group 12, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Central Mindanao apprehended the suspect of the bombing, Abdul Manap Mentang.
Mentang was allegedly behind both the Sasa Wharf blast and the 2005 Valentine’s Day bombing at the Davao City Overland Transport Terminal.