DAVAO City Mayor Sara Duterte expressed optimism that the 25th Kadayawan sa Dabaw celebration next week will proceed peacefully and will be "free of terror activities."
"There will be no terror activities during the Kadayawan, particularly from the New People's Army (NPA)," she said.
As this developed, Duterte called on all Dabawenyos to join and enjoy the celebration. She also said that local and foreign tourists are "very much welcome to join the city's festivities."
"I think it's understood (that if the atmosphere is festive) everybody is expected to cooperate and participate. Dili man ni para sa isa ka tao lang para man ni sa atoang tanan diri sa syudad sa Davao (All these efforts to make the celebration a success is not just for one person but for all of us here)," Duterte said in an interview Wednesday at the Central 911 office on Ponciano St.
Meanwhile, the city mayor disclosed that she has a pending invitation from the NPA for a dialogue.
"Naa koy pending invitation na musaka didto but niana ko sa ilaha nga in the proper time na lang siguro since wala pa nahan-ay ang projects sa akong admin to address their grievances regarding the government. (I have a pending invitation to go to them up in the mountains, but I said perhaps in a proper time because my plans and programs for my administration are not yet done for me to be able to hear properly their grievances regarding the government)," Duterte said.
"Gusto nako pagsaka nako didto naa koy ika offer sa ilaha. In due time, in the proper time I will offer nako na sa ilaha (I want that when I meet them I have something to offer them. In due time I will offer these to them) in the hope nga they will listen and they will put down their arms," Duterte said.
The city will be on heightened alert when the Kadayawan festivities kick off next week with both the military and police augmented.
"All our security personnel such as the Task Force Davao (TFD), the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) and security volunteers will be working very hard to make the festival successful and peaceful," Duterte said.
During the AFP-PNP-Press Corp media briefing Thursday, TFD deputy commander Lt. Col. Jose Eriel Niembra said they have received augmentation from the 10th Infantry Division of troops under the 69th, 84th, and 39th Infantry Battalion.
TFD spokesperson Lt. Arvin Pedrosa on Wednesday said they received a total of 85 personnel but expects more to come during the actual Kadayawan Festival.
DCPO Director Rene Aspera said they received augmentation of 48 personnel from the Public Safety Battalion and 348 scouts from the Civil Defense are currently undergoing in preparation for the security plans during the festival.
Duterte said on a positive note after the recent Zamboanga bombing the entire Mindanao is now under heightened alert. "Na-timing na malapit na rin ang Kadayawan so we expect more security will pour in," Duterte said.
Meanwhile, Duterte debunked speculations that the festival will not be as colorful as it has no theme and has a smaller budget than previous stagings.
The city mayor said she expects this year's celebration of the Kadayawan Festival would be colorful without the city spending a lot and would only use "what we have."
"As I have said, we do not need a theme for us to celebrate Kadayawan. It's automatic that we celebrate the Kadayawan in order to highlight the unique culture of our Muslim brothers and sisters and the customs and traditions of the indigenous people regarding the bountiful harvest of the city. As long as everyone knows why we are celebrating the Kadayawan and would really join in the festivities then there's no need to worry about a theme," Duterte said in vernacular.
"With the budget, we do what we can with what we have. Matud pa ni (As it was said by) President Noy (Benigno Aquino), because in all of his Sona (state of the nation address) I only remember one thing and that's fiscal responsibility. Kung unsay naa atoang pagagamiton (What is there should be used), maximize our resources," Duterte said. (Jade C. Zaldivar)