Top stories in the last 25 years

FOR the past 25 years, SunStar Davao has witnessed different historical events in Davao Region. The paper had a share of different stories, from good news to bad news. From different news beats: politics, crime stories, economic development, and a lot more -- SunStar Davao got it covered. Let us take a look back at some of the memorable stories:

President Duterte

In 2016, long-time Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte became the President of the Philippines. He's the first Mindanaoan politician to become president. His administration promised to fight problems such as corruption, crime, and illegal drugs. His presidency has met both praises and controversies, mostly on his war against drugs. Despite this, his administration receives good to excellent satisfactory ratings.

2011 flash flood

The June 28, 2011 flash flood was the previous decade's deadliest flood in Davao City. 25 people were dead while 3,000 families were displaced by the flooding. Of the death toll, 15 are children. Affected barangays were Matinga Pangi, Talomo, Matina Crossing 74-A, Matina Aplaya, and Maa. Many of those who died lived in the riverbanks and even in portions of the Pangi riverbed or under the bridge.

Super Typhoon Pablo

On December 4, 2012, Super Typhoon Pablo, considered to be the second strongest typhoon that hit the Philippines between 1947 to 2014, ravaged the towns in Compostela Valley (now Davao de Oro) and Davao Oriental. About 1,901 lives were lost and around P39.9 billion worth of properties and farms were damaged.

With the extent of destruction, local and international government agencies, civic organizations, and even private individuals worked hand-in-hand to help the affected communities to recover.

Punch of the decade

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio made headlines after punching a court sheriff last July 1, 2011 for pushing the demolition order despite her plea to wait for a couple of hours. With the incident, Duterte-Carpio became the subject of a number of cases, including disbarment and administrative cases, but none prospered. The mayor, however, issued a public apology to sheriff Abe Andres and his family a year after the punching incident.

Kidnap for ransom

Quezon City-based businesswoman Sally Chua convinced her abductors to do the payoff in Davao City. Three members of a kidnap-for-ransom group operating in Metro Manila were killed, while one was captured following a shootout with police on July 11, 2013 on C.M. Recto St., Davao City. Chua was rescued by police officers inside the Allied Bank-CM Recto branch, while the suspect escorting her was arrested. The police operation was headed by then Davao City Police Director, now Senator Ronald dela Rosa. The order of shootout was made by then Davao City Mayor, now Pres. Duterte.

Roxas Night Market Bombing

The night of September 2, 2016 was a nightmare for most Dabawenyos as 15 people were killed and 69 others were injured. The bombing incident was allegedly done by the Maute group. The suspects -- seven alleged members of the Maute group,were transferred from the City Jail in Maa, Davao City to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City in February 2018. After the blast, a culture of safety has been practiced by the city. Roxas Night Market is now declared a "maximum security zone".

Martial Law in Mindanao

Mindanao was placed under martial law on May 23, 2017, several hours after an armed conflict erupted between government forces and the Maute terrorists in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. In July, before the 60-day martial law could expire, Congress extended it until the end of 2017. In December 2018, martial law was extended for the third and last time until December 31, 2019.

NCCC Mall fire

The fire that gutted Davao's homegrown NCCC Mall of Davao in Maa on December 23, 2017, barely two days before Christmas, had left Dabawenyos with heavy hearts. A total of 38 people perished, 37 were call center agents while one was Melvin Gaa, a safety officer of the mall who led several SSI employees to safety. Three years after, charges against the persons responsible for the fire are still ongoing. The first Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao in 2018 was awarded the Best Ironman 70.3 Race in Asia while Davao City was feted the Best Host City.

Ironman in Davao

The triathlon spectacle attracted 2,200 participants from 38 countries in the 2019 edition. The turnout also surpassed the 1,800 entries from 28 nations registered in 2018. The first Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao in 2018 was awarded the Best Ironman 70.3 Race in Asia while Davao City was feted the Best Host City. The city also received the Best Destination Marketing award for Ironman 2018. The 3rd Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao slated March 22, 2020 has drawn over 1,000 entries when registration opened worldwide on October 1, 2019.

Mindanao Earthquake

Mindanao was rocked by three tectonic and inland earthquakes in October and December 2019. These are magnitude 6.3 on October 16, magnitude 6.6 on October 29, and magnitude 6.5 on October 31. The latest was the magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck Matanao, Davao del Sur on December 15. The tremors damaged millions worth of properties, displaced thousands of families, and claimed several lives.

Davao death squad

The Davao Death Squad (DDS), an alleged vigilante group in Davao City, rose prominence after it was reported to have been conducting summary executions of street children and individuals suspected of petty crimes and drug dealing. In a report by Human Rights Watch, DDS is responsible for the alleged killing or disappearance of between 1,020 and 1,040 people between 1998 and 2008. Former Davao City Mayor and current President Rodrigo Duterte has been associated with the summary executions. Investigations were initiated after numerous organizations for condoning and even inciting executions to take place during his leadership. However, the Office of the Ombudsman closed an investigation in October 2019 stating that they found no evidence that DDS exists, and no evidence to connect the police or Duterte with the killings. Some Dabawenyos, however, attributed their supposed existence to the city's safety status. Supporters of the President have made a pun on the initials, stating 'DDS' actually means "Duterte Die-hard Supporters."

Firecracker ban

Celebrating New Year wasn't the same since the Davao City Council, under the leadership of then-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, passed Ordinance 060-02, more commonly known as the firecracker ban, on October 15, 2002. The ordinance prohibits the manufacture, sale, distribution, possession, or use of firecrackers or pyrotechnic devices in the city. Since then, Davao City has recorded injury-free incidents before the changing of the calendar. Dabawenyos has since then been satisfied blowing party horns, or what are more commonly known to Filipinos as torotots.

Davao Airport and Sasa Wharf bombing

On March 4, 2003, a bomb exploded in the waiting shed outside the old terminal building of the Francisco Bangoy International Airport, also known as the old Davao International Airport. The blast killed 22 people, leaving 155 others injured. The government blamed Jemaah Islamiyah for the bombing. Barely a month after the Davao airport bombing, another powerful bomb exploded, this time at the entrance of Sasa Wharf. The incident, which the government blamed on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), killed 16 people, including 4 policemen and a nun, and injured 46.

Air Philippines Flight 541 Plane Crash

An Air Philippines passenger plane crashed in the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte killing all 131 people on board, including 124 passengers and seven crew members. It is considered the deadliest air disaster in the Philippines. It is also the third deadliest accident involving the Boeing 737-200, after Mandala Airlines Flight 091, which crashed 5 years later, and Indian Airlines Flight 113.


An unidentified infectious disease in Wuhan, Hubei, China, resulted in a pandemic. The disease was later on labeled as the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (Sars-CoV-2). The virus, which remains no cure and vaccine as of press time, resulted in a global turmoil, affecting the entire world. The virus reached the Philippines in early March this year, while it reached Davao Region on March 15, when the first case of the disease was confirmed in Tagum. The first local transmission was reported in Davao City, which became the "gateway" of the viral transmission to neighboring provinces in Mindanao.

Investment scheme

Investment schemes had already been operating for several years but had only gained attention in 2019 when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released the cease and desist order (CDO) for Kapa because of its "too good to be true" investment nature. In Davao Region, Tagum City in Davao del Norte became the mecca for investment schemes where Rigen Marketing and other recent similar investment schemes were first established. From there, a lot of others had been founded in other parts of Mindanao because of the easy registration and fast-money set-up of these schemes, growing more attraction to investors. However, because of its suspicious offering, and illegal transaction, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the shutdown of all illegal investment schemes in the country. This statement of the president shook the entire nation causing hatred from the investors to the president and Pastor Quiboloy for being "anti-poor."

Duterte-Nograles rivalry

Rodrigo Duterte and Prospero "Boy" Nograles had been rivals in politics for 30 years as the two most prominent politicians in Davao City. Back in 1992, Nograles ran for Davao City mayor against Duterte but lost. In 2010, he ran again for the post, this time against Duterte's eldest daughter Sara. He lost that bid as well.

The height of Nograles' political career was his House Speakership from 2008 to 2010. This made him the first House Speaker from Mindanao. Duterte would eventually become the first President from Mindanao in 2016.

The Duterte-Nograles rivalry ended in November 2015 when Nograles threw his support behind Duterte's presidential bid.

Nograles died on Saturday, May 4, 2019 having succumbed to "respiratory failure, secondary to pneumonia," according to his son, former First District Representative, now Duterte's current Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles. He was 71 years old.

Maguindanao massacre

Dubbed as the most gruesome election-related violence, 58 victims were kidnapped and killed while on their way to file a certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Buluan, Maguindanao to challenge Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., son of the incumbent Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and member of one of Mindanao's leading Muslim political clans, in the forthcoming Maguindanao gubernatorial election, part of the national elections in 2010. The people killed included Mangudadatu's wife, his two sisters, journalists, lawyers, aides, and motorists who were witnesses or were mistakenly identified as part of the convoy. It was also the most gruesome media-related killing wherein 34 journalists are known to have been abducted and killed in the massacre, but only 25 had been positively identified. One of them is Davao-based journalist Santos "Jun" Gatchalian.

A decade after the bloody incident, on December 19, 2019, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 convicted the Ampatuan brothers of 57 counts of murder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua without parole, while 28 co-accused including police officers were also convicted of 57 counts of murder and sentenced to 40 years, 15 were sentenced to 6-10 years for being accessories to the crime. 55 others were acquitted, including one of the main suspects, Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan, the then incumbent mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Maguindanao.

New power era

Around the mid-2010s, Mindanao was experiencing a series of brownouts that could last up to eight hours due to the low power supply in the Mindanao power grid.

However, in 2016, a new era in the power sector of Mindanao was ushered in following the inauguration of Therma South Inc.'s 300 megawatt (MW) baseload coal-fired power plant, which sits on the boundaries of Barangay Binugao, Toril, Davao City and Barangay Sirawan, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.

The AboitizPower subsidiary was the first baseload coal-fired power plant that entered the Mindanao power grid.

Despite opposition from environmentalists and other concerned individuals, the entry of the baseload power plant not only helped improve the power situation of Mindanao, but it has also helped spur economic activity as more investments pour in due to a stable power supply.

New provinces

SunStar Davao was able to witness the inauguration of the creation of two provinces in Davao Region.

President Fidel V. Ramos signed on January 30, 1998, Compostela Valley was created out of Davao del Norte Province by virtue of Republic Act (RA) 8470. On March 7 of the same year, the law was ratified through a plebiscite conducted in the twenty-two municipalities of the mother province.

However, in 2019, a Senate bill officially renaming Compostela Valley to Davao de Oro was passed. Provincial officials led by Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy sees this as an opportunity to clear up confusion with its geographic location, with the province's name sometimes associated with Cagayan Valley and the town of Compostela in Cebu, and associate it further with fellow provinces in the Davao Region. They see this also as an opportunity to market the province better for further investments. The plebiscite was held on December 7, 2019 with the majority of participants voting in favor of the name change.

Meanwhile, Davao Occidental is the 81st and newest province in the Philippines located in the Davao Region in Mindanao in 2013. Occidental was created through RA 10360 enacted on July 23, 2013, comprising five of the eight municipalities that constitute the 2nd district of Davao del Sur. RA 10360 was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate on November 28, 2012, and December 5, 2012, respectively, and signed by President Benigno Aquino III on January 14, 2013. A plebiscite was held on October 28, 2013, along with the barangay elections and the majority of votes cast were "Yes," ratifying the province.


The Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids) had been a problem not only in Davao City but as well as in different cities and municipalities in the Philippines.

Since 1984 to the first half of 2019, the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau recorded a total of 3,476 HIV-Aids cases in Davao Region. About 2,902 of these cases are recorded in Davao City. Of this number in Davao Region, 191 had already died.

Educational campaign for HIV-Aids does not only lessen the cases of HIV-Aids in the region, it also lessens the stigma against it as more people will be more understanding.

The famous "pink treatment cards" were issued by the City Health Office (CHO) to workers whose nature of work is entertaining others regardless of whether or not sexual acts are involved. Cardholders renew annually and assisted with laboratory tests. Should the holder be in a job that involves sexual activities, additional laboratory tests will be conducted like Hepatitis B and Veneral Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL). This is to see whether or not the patient has syphilis. But this was in 2017 when the people believed only prostituted women primarily spread HIV.

Kean Gabriel

In 2016, four-year-old Kean Gabriel Agustin suffered maltreatment from his stepfather, Sonny Boy Mendoza, 22, resulting in his death on August 24, 2016.

Based on the autopsy conducted by the City Health Office, the boy suffered severe hemorrhage secondary to head injuries.

The Regional Trial Court (RTC), in 2017, sentenced Kean's stepfather to 12 years and one day to four years imprisonment for the crime of homicide.

The City Government, in the same year, launched the Kean Gabriel Hotline in memory of Kean. The incident exposed the violence, neglect, and possible death children in Davao City face under those who are supposed to keep them safe. By calling or texting the number 0908-818-4444, the "Kean Gabriel Hotline" encourages the public to report cases of child abuse and neglect to the authorities.

Davao City Central 911

On September 27, 2002, Davao City took pride in the launch of the emergency hotline 911.

Davao City Central 911 or the Central Communications and Emergency Response Center was established to provide a centralized and integrated system that links government's resources to the emergency needs of the constituents of Davao City.

For almost two decades, Central 911 became the city's frontline emergency response unit serving Davaoenos, at par with international standards.

Central 911 continues to equip with state-of-the-art facilities and advanced resource equipment and tools, which are manned by highly-trained and competent personnel from units that serve for various emergency needs and concerns.

When President Rodrigo Duterte, then Davao City mayor, won as president in 2016, he set 911 as a new national emergency hotline.

The Dutertes

The Dutertes are no longer a political clan but now considered by many as a brand of political governance. Since he was appointed officer-in-charge vice mayor by the late president Corazon Aquino after the 1986 People Power Revolution, Rodrigo Duterte has since then become the Dabawenyos leader until he was elected as president in 2016.

Digong's children, had since then, followed suit. Digong's only daughter, Sara or "Inday Sara" first stepped into local governance as vice mayor in 2007. She then became the first female city mayor from 2010 until 2013. She was then re-elected in 2016 until the present.

Paolo, Sara's elder brother, later on, joined the high-ranking political career in 2013 as city vice mayor, after being a Catalunan Grande barangay captain for several years. He was re-elected in 2016. He resigned in 2017 as vice mayor due to "unfortunate events". Now, he was elected unopposed as the first district representative and House Deputy Speaker in 2019.

Last to mark his debut is Sebastian or "Baste". Baste was a celebrity, even before he was elected as vice mayor in 2019. Despite being a newcomer, he has already set the bar high. For the 19th Davao City Council, which he currently presides, is targeting to accomplish 24 landmark city ordinances before 2021.


Comedian Ramon Bautista was on hot water in 2014 after he made a joke describing the women of Davao City as "hipon," a Filipino pejorative that means a person with a sexy body but with an ugly face. The incident happened in one of the Kadayawan-related events in the city.

The "hipon scandal" went viral on social medai after Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio posted about how Bautista behaved during the Kadayawan Invasion over the weekend.

This did not sit well as the City Council declaring him as persona non grata which means "an unwelcome person".

Bautista already apologized to the public on the same event.

Former Mayor, now President Rodrigo Duterte accepted his apology, saying he is still welcome in Davao City despite the "persona" declaration.


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