HILONGOS, Leyte- President Rodrigo Duterte assured the blast victims that justice would be served to them by arresting those behind the incident that rocked the town on the night of its fiesta on December 28.
The President, who arrived here on December 30, visited the victims confined at the Hilongos District Hospital wherein he personally gave cash assistance of P10,000 to each of them.
And one of them was John Reyneill Lamo,15, who also received a cellular phone from the President aside from the cash and food assistance.
“I am excited to have a new phone and this is actually my first cellphone. But at the same time, I am also happy to see our President personally. I only see him on television,” the Grade VI student said.
During the interview the teenager was tinkering his new gadget while his father, Ruel, 34, was grinning.
Lamo was sitting near the water tank where one of the two improvised explosive devises planted at the Rizal Park of the town exploded.
When the homemade bomb exploded, he unfortunately ran towards the stage where the second bomb was also planted by the suspects.
Still, he managed to return home to their village in Atabay, more than three kilometers away from the town center.
“He still managed to return home and told me that he was hit by a bomb with blood running down (in his body.)Then, he fainted. I immediately brought him to the hospital,” the father said.
The President, accompanied by Secretary Christopher Go, arrived in this town about 10:29 am and immediately proceeded to the hospital to see the blast victims.
He also meet with security officials led by Chief Supt Elmer Beltejar, police regional director, and Mayor Albert Villahermosa to brief on the incident.
Mr. Duterte left the hospital around 11:45 am where using a microphone while he was on his vehicle, addressed the big crowd waiting for his arrival outside the hospital.
He said that he was about to return to Davao City but decided to visit Hilongos after the incident rocked the town of more than 86,000 people on the night of their annual fiesta.
“Don’t lose hope because the security forces of the government are doing their job. Trust our police and the military. They are doing their work. They will protect you,”he said.
With this assurance coming from the President, they now feel confident and secure, said Mayor Villahermosa.
“While we are in the moment of grieving because on what happened to us here, (his visit) it add boosts to the people,”he said.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, who was among those who welcomed the President, assured the people of the province that the incidence in Hilongos was just an isolated case.
But still, he urged the security officials as well as the mayors and barangay officials to be vigilant “especially when we are in a crowded place.”
The incident is being seen by police officials as a work of a group involved in the illegal drug trade as a form or retaliation. Aside from this, they are also looking on a possible involvement of a syndicate engaged in the counterfeit money activity.