05/22/2024, 12.35
Send to a friend

Cotabato: government and Church unanimously condemn attack on Santo Niño Chapel

The raid took place on 19 May, Pentecost Sunday. Two men on a motorbike threw a grenade during the service. Marybel Atis, 40, and Rosita Tubilo, 65, were hit by the shrapnel, sustaining several injuries. Card. Quevedo: 'dastardly' attack and 'sacrilegious act'. Appeal to the authorities for justice to be done.

Manila (AsiaNews) - From presidential leaders to prominent figures in the Catholic Church there is unanimous condemnation of the grenade attack that took place on May 19, Pentecost Sunday, on a prayer chapel in Cotabato, in the south of the Philippines.

The target of the attack was the Santo Niño Chapel, in Barangay Rosary Heights 3, where a Bible reading was in progress.  According to initial reconstructions, two men on a motorbike threw a grenade into the place of worship, hitting two worshippers present at the time of the service: Marybel Atis, 40, and Rosita Tubilo, 65, were hit by some shrapnel and sustained several injuries. 

Commenting on the incident, Card. Orlando Quevedo, Archbishop Emeritus of Cotabato, speaks of a 'dastardly attack' and a 'horrendous sacrilegious act that cries out to heaven'. For the cardinal, it is a "crime that deserves the severest condemnation" because it was committed against simple faithful "gathered to worship God in a sacred place".

The cardinal, who is also a member representing the Christian communities on the Council of Leaders of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, a troubled region where a power struggle is underway ahead of the 2025 vote, calls on the authorities to ensure justice for the victims. "I appeal to our security, military and investigative forces," concluded the note from the Archbishop Emeritus of Cotabato, "to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.

The Manila government's condemnation was also immediate and unanimous.  The grenade attack on a Catholic chapel in the city of Cotabato was a 'direct attack' on religious freedom, on the Filipino people's 'commitment to the practice of worship' and on 'peaceful coexistence', as Carlito Galvez Jr. pointed out. Presidential Advisor for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (Opapru) then recalled how the raid occurred on the occasion of Pentecost, a day loaded with meaning for Catholics. "We extend our solidarity," he concluded, "to the families of those wounded in this incident and wish them a full and speedy recovery," while the attack will not undermine the government's commitment to pursuing lasting peace in the region.

Words that are not enough to allay the fears of a Catholic community that has already been the target of bloody attacks in the area in the recent past. Of these, the memory of the bomb that exploded in a church in Marawi last December is still vivid, striking a symbol of peace and coexistence and marking the beginning of Advent with blood.

Four people died in the explosion of the device during Mass, dozens were injured in an attack claimed in the following days by the Islamic State, active in the area. Interviewed by AsiaNews, Fr Sebastiano D'Ambra, an 81-year-old PIME priest who has been in the Philippines since 1977 and has a deep knowledge of the Muslim groups (including armed ones) active in the south of the archipelago, explained that the attack was linked to "clashes" between the military and groups linked to Daesh or allies. With this 'indiscriminate action, they would retaliate and also gain the visibility they sought'. 

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Catholic music to promote dialogue in Ambon, the city of sectarian violence
17/10/2018 13:29
Growing unemployment in the Philippines, also due to corruption and waste
Radio talk-show to foster inter-faith dialogue in Mindanao
Mindanao: grenades thrown at a Catholic church, three people wounded
Massacre of Christians in Jolo deals heavy blow to hopes for peace


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”