DAVAO CITY – A month before the Kadayawan festival, tourism officials here urged police to ensure peace and order in time for the forthcoming tourist attraction.

City Tourism Officer Lisette Marques said Monday during the weekly “Kapehan sa Dabaw” at SM City Davao Annex  that “the assurance is making sure that our police is up to their toes and not taking any unverified threat lightly.”

Pres. Benigno Aquino III recently relayed to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte the presence of terror threats in the city, a report that turned out to be raw and unverified.

“We are sending out a statement from the city that it is really secured. We have groups that have signified their commitment to come [to the city, but] they just want a statement from our side that security is implemented during the Kadayawan,” Marques said, adding that both the city government and the private sector remained unfazed despite the terror rumors.

“It is a continuous effort from our side and especially the private sector in making sure and showcasing the city that it is still business as usual,” she said.

Threats to the city are not new. Last year, the Davao City Police had implemented the “no backpack policy” during the Kadayawan Festival following the bomb blasts that occurred in Cagayan de Oro and Cotabato. Mayor Rodrigo Duterte almost cancelled some festivities including the highlight “indak-indak sa kadalanan (street dance)” days before the set date due to the said threats.

The City itself was not spared as two cinemas in two separate malls were bombed September last year. No serious casualties were reported in the said incident, which Duterte said targeted US firms. Duterte offered bounty to catch the suspects but the case have not been reported as solved to this date.

Two weeks ago, during the I-Speak Media Forum, Davao City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management OIC, Emmanuel Jaldon said that Central 911 is ready to deploy an emergency response team of 150 personnel during the Kadayawan.

Richel Camponion, a sari-sari storeowner, has reservations about the city’s safety. Nevertheless, she places her trust on the city authorities to ensure a safe Kadayawan.

“Safe ba jud? Di ko sigurado pud kay naa baya’y mga banta-banta nga naay terorista. Magbantay ra pud ta. Pero naa koy pagsalig sa atong mga otoridad. Basta si Mayor [Rodrigo Duterte], naa koy pagsalig” (Is it really safe? I’m not sure because of the terror threats. We have to be vigilant. But I trust our authorities, especially our mayor), she stated.

Meanwhile, the city tourism is doubling its efforts to attract tourists, citing as a project a “Kadayawan-themed Davao cultural festival” that is being held in Singapore, a strategic business and an aviation hub.

It is a “strategic time for us to market there,” Marques said.

Last year, tourist arrivals in the city hit 1.4 million, according to the Department of Tourism Region XI.

Due to recent security threats, some tourists have cancelled their planned visit and activities in the region. (davaotoday.com)

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