Hunt on for trio over Davao blast

As bodies pile up in Philippines many fear to talk about Rodrigo Duterte's war

The attack rattled the normally peaceful home city of Duterte, who typically spends his weekends there, some 980 kilometers away from the capital Manila. Senior Superintendent Michael John Dubria told reporters the man had gone for a massage in the market and left the bag in that area. “That’s what the President said during our meeting”, revealed Andanar through the government’s radio station.

After the bombing, Duterte declared “a state of lawlessness”, giving the military and police additional powers to conduct law enforcement operations, including vehicle searches and frisking at checkpoints.

The extremist group Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the blast, according to The Associated Press, but Duterte said investigators were also looking at other possible suspects, including drug syndicates singled out in his recent crackdown.

The terror group (Abu Sayyaf) has its back against the wall and had to divert attention from Sulu to Davao, Abu Misri Mama, spokesperson for the rebel group, reportedly said. Almost 1,800 people were killed by police and vigilante groups in the weeks after his inauguration in June.

“For the city government side, we are working on that it is an Abu Sayyaf retaliation”, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, who is also the president’s daughter, told CNN Philippines.

Abu Sayyaf, which means “bearer of the sword”, has previously used an Islamic State (ISIS) flag in some of its propaganda videos and runs what is among Asia’s most lucrative kidnap rackets. A few seconds later, the bomb went off, Gaerlan said.

Andrea dela Cerna, Davao Police Regional Office spokesperson.

Mr Duterte has pursued a brutal anti-crime war since he took office on June 30.

Refusing to level the blame exclusively at the feet of the Islamic militants may result in an expansion in the wave of extrajudicial killings by the Duterte regime of alleged drug cartel members – an effort that has led to widespread global condemnation.

Abella emphasised that the president was not declaring martial law, which he could do only in response to an “invasion or rebellion, and when the public safety requires it”. The measure gives the military extra powers to conduct operations normally done only by the police, officials have said.

De la Rosa, who has been Duterte’s main enforcer in the campaign, stressed that police would be more merciless towards corrupt policemen involved in illegal drugs.

“What has been happening unabated and with impunity are the extrajudicial killings perpetrated by police authorities and their civilian cohorts”, Lagman said.