President Duterte visits, gives cash aid to Leyte explosion victims

HILONGOS, Leyte -– President Rodrigo Duterte visited this town on Friday and gave additional cash assistance to the victims of the December 28 town plaza explosion.

The Chief Executive arrived past 10 a.m. on board a presidential chopper at Hilongos National Vocational School campus and walked for about 50 meters to the Hilongos District Hospital.

Duterte talked to the six blast victims still confined at the state-run health facility. All the patients already discharged from the hospital also came for a 40-minute meeting with the President.

He distributed PHP10,000 cash to the 10 victims, who are still recovering in the district hospital, including those admitted in Tacloban City and Maasin City. Outpatient victims got a PHP5,000 cash gift from President Duterte.

The cash aid is on top of the PHP5,000 assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and PHP3,000 from the office of Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino distributed on Thursday.

Mary Grace Nemis, 12, who was hit by bomb shrapnel during the attack, received a new mobile phone from the President.

After an interaction with victims, President Duterte attended a security briefing with local police officials, military officers, Leyte Governor Dominico Petilla, Southern Leyte Governor Damian Mercado, and Hilongos Mayor Albert Villahermosa.

He was about to leave the hospital complex past noontime when he got off from the car and delivered a two-minute message to a large crowd who warmly welcomed him at the hospital’s parking lot.

“Trust your law enforcers because they know what they are doing. I was impressed that they are able to immediately identify the perpetrators,” Duterte told the crowd in vernacular. The town is just 38 kilometers north of Maasin City in Southern Leyte, the President’s birthplace.

The President earlier claimed the bombing that wounded 32 residents here, was “drug-related, and involving Moro people.”

The President stopped by this town after leading the Rizal Day commemoration rites at Rizal Park in Manila and before heading home to Davao City to spend the New Year holidays with his family.

About 500 people were gathered at the town plaza to watch an amateur boxing match on Wednesday night when two improvised explosive devices went off around 9:30 p.m., wounding 32 people. The attack coincided with the town’s annual fiesta celebration. Roel Amazona/PNA-northboundasia.com