After Jolo bombing, Davao bans backpacks from churches

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Sara Duterte on Tuesday, January 29, ordered a ban on carrying of backpacks in churches and other places of worship, an official said.

Benito de Leon, head of Davao City's Public Safety and Security Command Center, said the "no backpack policy" was adopted in the wake of the Jolo Cathedral bombing that killed at least 23 people and wounded over 100 others last Sunday, January 27. The death toll rose as of February 4.

“The city mayor has instructed us that churchgoers should no longer bring backpacks in going inside their places of worship for security reasons,” De Leon said. “In that manner, we could avoid an incident, wherein some malicious individuals could put in explosive devices in backpacks, the same scheme that happened in Jolo.”

He said parish priests and other religious leaders had been asked to disseminate the information to their flock.

De Leon said small handbags and purses are exempted from the ban.

He said those who might bring backpacks because they had not been informed of the ban would be subjected to stringent security checks.

De Leon said this would also apply to those bringing bulky bags inside churches.

He said the city government will deploy teams from the Davao City Police Office, the Task Force Davao, and the Davao police auxiliaries to man the inspection in the churches within the city. – 

Image of Davao San Pedro Cathedral by Ulysses Nemeno on Shutterstock; backpack from Shutterstock