THROUGHOUT the year, Davao City faced various challenges, including unfortunate disasters and high-profile crimes, such as murder and rape. These incidents unfolded both in the civilian and military spheres, ushering in the new year with a critical demand: increased attention to public safety.
Tragic Fire Incidents
Photo by Bing Gonzales
The latest for this year was the recent massive fire that scorched at least 350 houses in Purok San Vicente, Barangay Leon Garcia, at 1:10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 27.
On Nov. 14, a huge fire caused more than P1.6 million in damage after gobbling 200 houses at Barangay Tomas Monteverde in Agdao District at 7:21 a.m.
In September, the fire that wiped out a warehouse of construction materials along Sobrecarey Street, Barrio Obrero, Barangay 14-B, left damage worth P13 million. The toxic materials inside the warehouse made it more difficult for firefighters to fight the blaze as they were also concerned about the dangerous fumes.
On July 5, a six-year-old girl died when at least 50 houses were razed by a huge fire at Purok 5, Mini-Forest, Barangay 23-C, just before the stroke of midnight.
On February 25, the Davao City Fire Station estimated about P9 million in damage caused by a massive fire that gobbled around 1,000 houses in Purok 8A, Barangay 21-C, and Brgy 22 Piapi.
P18-M in Illegal Drugs Seized
On June 25, more than P18 million worth of illegal drugs were seized from two individuals who tried to sneak in the contraband at the Sirawan checkpoint in Toril District around 4 p.m. The suspects were identified as Cresil Jay Alvarez Lacia, 29, and Antonio Palacios Jr.,30, both working as drivers from Purok 5 Poblacion, New Corella, Davao del Norte.
Joint checkpoint personnel from the Davao City Police Office and Task Force Davao confiscated 1.140 kg grams of illegal drugs with an estimated street value of P18,200,000 from the two.
According to the report, joint operatives flagged a black Mitsubishi Montero with the number plate LAJ 5538 as a routine security check. However, one police officer saw in plain view a small brown envelope on the front passenger floor containing what appeared to be shabu. The cop also saw two transparent plastic bags with sachets of suspected drugs inside.
Bad Eggs Within PNP and AFP
On June 22, three Davao Occidental 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company (PMFC) officers were relieved from their posts for allegedly maltreating a boy who sought their help.
On June 19, a video post circulated on social media showed the minor recounting his experience at the hands of the suspects who allegedly maltreated him by pouring chili vinegar or sinamak on his genitals. He sought police assistance from his abusive father when the incident occurred.
The provincial police director immediately issued relief and restriction orders. The police also filed a case against the three for violating Republic Act 7610 or Special Protection against Child Abuse before the Davao Occidental Provincial Prosecutors Office.
In October this year, an Army officer and three other soldiers of the 10th Infantry Division accused of killing model Yvonette Chua Plaza were already under custody by the Davao City Police Office.
This, after Branch 15 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) XI in Davao City released the arrest warrant on Sept. 22, 2023, against Colonel Michael Licyayo, Sergeant Gilbert Plaza, Sergeant Delfin Sialsa Jr., and Corporal Adrian Cachero.
Licyayo was the deputy commander of Brig Gen Jesus Durante III, relieved as 1001st Infantry Brigade commander after he was tagged as the mastermind of the crime. The three others were also under Licyayo and Durante. The court did not recommend a bail bond for the defendants.
Durante III was not included when the case was filed in court due to insufficient evidence that he personally ordered the model’s killing. For now, Major Tito said Durante, and Private First Class Rolly Cabal, are still under the custody of the 10ID for court martial proceedings.
Meanwhile, Private First Class Romart Longakit’s whereabouts are still unknown at this point.
On Oct. 19, The Davao Police Regional Office assured that it would be fair in the ongoing investigation of Major Michael Uyanguren over the alleged disappearance of his house helper Justine Mae Saldua.
The relieved Toril Police Station commander is still in the Regional Police Holding Accounting Unit while the investigation continues.
The DCPO recently clarified that no criminal cases have been filed but they recommended filing an administrative charge against Major Michael Uyanguren. As of this writing, the DCPO has no update regarding the case and the whereabouts of the missing house help.
Rape-Slay of Architect
On July 18, the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Bragas on Wednesday declared the rape-slay of an architect last May 17 in Calinan District as officially resolved after the fourth suspect was identified and killed in an operation.
Col Alberto Lupaz, DCPO director, said they already filed cases against the perpetrators and recovered the Ombak tricycle used in the crime.
The tricycle owner executed an affidavit claiming that it was rented for P5,000 by Jimmy Lobiano, the fourth suspect who was killed upon serving an arrest warrant at his residence in Upper Sirib, Calinan.
Photo by Bing Gonzales
Former government employee Lilian Nieva was brutally murdered inside her house in Deca Homes Talomo as she succumbed to 44 stab wounds on Sept. 29. She was the former executive secretary of Butch Ramirez when he was the Philippine Sports Commission chairperson.
Police investigators have narrowed the list of suspects down to one as they move closer to solving the murder of former government employee Lilian Nieva inside her house in Deca Homes Talomo last Sept. 29.
On Nov. 23, the former mayor of Cateel, Davao Oriental was shot dead by an unidentified perpetrator near Jollibee, Km. 5, Buhangin.His driver was also brought to the hospital after sustaining a gunshot wound.
Police identified the casualty as Giselo Velasco Castillones, a resident of San Rafael, Cateel, while the driver was Junie Castro. The other companion was Alma Manliguez Lozentes, 57, a businesswoman and the common-law-wife of the victim.
According to the DCPO’s report, the three were on about to leave on a gray Mitsubishi Expander when a man approached their vehicle and shot Castillones multiple times, who was then sitting in the front passenger seat. The bullets recovered from the scene showed that the killer used a .45 caliber pistol.
Eight Barangays Flooded
Photo by Bing Gonzales
Vice President Sara Duterte extended financial assistance to the residents of Barangay Bago Aplaya affected by a heavy downpour in November.
Bago Aplaya was one of the hardest-hit barangays, along with seven other villages. Nearly 500 individuals were displaced when a thunderstorm triggered the swelling of the Lipadas River.
Series of earthquakes
Photo by Bing Gonzales
At least 174 residents living near Paragon Davao Condominiums along MacArthur Highway, Matina were advised to vacate after a strong earthquake was felt in the city on Nov. 17.
The residents took temporary shelter at the Barangay 76-A gym. Initial information showed that the tower crane swayed violently until the counterweight fell to the ground, taking a portion of the exterior wall with it.
On Oct. 15, The City Engineer’s Office released the list of government buildings and schools deemed unsafe following the magnitude 6.4 Sarangani quake on Oct. 4, which was felt at magnitude 4.8 in Davao City.
The city temporarily condemned the Jacinto Health Center, Saloy National High School, Malabog Day Care Center, and Malabog Elementary School.
High-ranking NPA Leader Falls
Photo by Bing Gonzales
Education Secretary Sara Duterte praised the police and the military following the arrest of high-ranking New People’s Army leader Eric Jun Casilao on April 17.
According to the report, Casilao was arrested at the Langkawi immigration check-in counter in Malaysia last April 1 while en route to Thailand via a ferry boat using fake travel documents. He was deported to Manila on April 17.
Casilao, reportedly the secretary of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has existing arrest warrants for murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, and serious illegal detention.
Local authorities described Casilao as one of the most notorious NPA leaders who orchestrated numerous terroristic activities in the Davao Region.
He carried a P5.4 million bounty on his head.
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