DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 January) – Church and government officials called for sobriety amid condemnation of Sunday morning’s twin blasts at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu that left 20 persons dead and a hundred others injured.
In a statement, Jolo’s Bishop Emeritus Angelito Lampon, OMI, and Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, OMI, a former parish priest of Jolo, condemned the “criminal bombing” of the cathedral, calling it “the most heinous desecration of a sacred place, on a sacred day, and at a sacred moment of worship.”
“It is truly a satanic act that all sacred religions must condemn,” said Lampon, who is assuming the post of Archbishop of Cotabato on January 30, vice Quevedo, whose retirement has been accepted by Pope Francis.
“This is the action of evil people with utter disregard for the sacredness of human life and of human dignity. We entrust the innocent victims to the Lord’s compassion and pray for their grieving families,” the two leaders said as they appealed to security forces “to flush out the perpetrators of this barbaric crime and bring them to justice.”
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez condemned the bombings and condoled with families of the victims but reminded the public that “we have come a long way in our journey to achieve enduring peace in Mindanao.”
“Now is not the time to cower and be intimidated by such a selfish and cowardly deed. Instead, let us show that we can work together and push through with our collective aspiration for a peaceful, united, and progressive Mindanao,” Galvez, who retired as Armed Forces Chief of Staff last month, said.
He urged the public to wait for authorities to complete the investigation. “Stay calm and refrain from aggravating the situation by issuing speculations, particularly on social media,” he said.
He also urged the public to be “vigilant and united in seeking justice for the victims. Let’s trust that the perpetrators will immediately be brought to justice and face the full consequences of their actions.”
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman condoled with the families of those who were killed and vowed to “do what we can to aid the wounded.”
He called on the public to cooperate with authorities and to “avoid making speculations” as the police conduct their investigation.
“Let us continue working for peace in the region. Violence should not deter us from continuing our work to establish a lasting peace in our homeland. We call on the people to remain calm and vigilant. We will do all we can to work with the other authorities to find the perpetrators of this atrocity and bring them to justice,” Hataman said.
Secretary Abul Khayr Alonto, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), called the bombing a “murderous act” but added that this “dastardly act of insanity should not be allowed to instill fear to our peace-loving populace.”
“Hand in hand, let us strengthen our resolve to overcome the evil designs of those cowards behind this senseless act. We call on peace-loving citizens to unite and help the government rid our society of this menace that threatens the gains of peace and development efforts.”
“Definitely barbaric and we condemn this terroristic act against anyone especially worshippers,” former Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan told MindaNews.
Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel, condemned the twin blasts as the “handiwork of evils who utterly disregard human life and dignity.”
“We offer our sincerest condolence to the Christian churchgoers and others who died,” he said.
In a statement, Yusoph Jikiri, chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who had earlier served as Governor of Sulu, described the bombing as “most tragic” as it claimed a big number of casualties “never been experienced in Jolo town before or in any part of the island province.”
Jikiri noted that as authorities are working to get the perpetrators, it is a known fact that the hinterlands of Sulu since 1990 “have been home to terrorist and lawless elements that are used to kidnapping-for-ransom and terrorism activities through the years.”
He said what happened Sunday was “most unfortunate and could only be the responsibility of terrorist, anti-peace, uncivilized and misguided persons.”
The EU Delegation to the Philippines conveyed its deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of those who were killed and injured and expressed their “solidarity with the Filipino people during these trying times.”
“Filipinos have always been resilient, steadfast, and collaborative and I am certain that these values will see them through in this sad situation,” EU Ambassador Franze Jessen said.
The Cagayan de Oro-based Balay Mindanaw said Sunday’s bombing onece again “put to test our belief and faith in each other.’
“If we allow suspicion to divide us, If we allow violence to create monsters out of us, If we allow hatred to consume us, Evil would have defeated us,” it said as it urged the pubic to “remain steadfast in our pursuit of just and lasting peace,” amid the pains, sorrow,c haose and confusion.
“Let us not allow evil to triumph,” it said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)