The Catholic bishop of the Prelature of Basilan in the southern Philippines condemned the twin explosions that rocked the city of Isabela on Monday, June 30.
“I condemn the incident and asked each one to continue on supporting all efforts to live in a peaceful environment and work together to sustain peace,” said Bishop Leo Dalmao in a statement on Wednesday.
A bomb went off in the garage of a bus company in Isabela City about 6:15 p.m. on Monday, 30 minutes after another explosion was reported outside an eatery in the provincial capital.
The military, however, said the first explosion was not caused by a bomb, “but was a matter of faulty writing.”
In a social media post, Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman of Isabela appealed to the public “to help sustain the gains of peace and let everyone know that no harassment can stop us from rising.”
She said the city and the province, which was once known as a hotbed of terrorism, “have been peaceful for a long time.”
“Our economy has been continuously progressing and our lives have become better,” said Turabin-Hataman.
“I echo the same message of peace to all Basileños,” read Bishop Dalmao’s statement, adding that the incident caused fear among residents “after relatively many years of living and enjoying peace.”
“The explosion … is unwarranted by every person who desires but peace and well-being,” he said.
Bishop Dalmao said Basilan “is now obviously moving forward on its development economically, socially, and politically.”
“The peaceful atmosphere has encouraged businesses to grow and people to live in harmony with each one regardless of faith and culture,” he said.
He called on the people of the province “to take active role in the promotion of peace, development, and human fraternity.”
“Engaging, otherwise to what is unpeaceful can again revive what Basilan has been in the previous years,” warned the prelate.
He also urged “all those who are responsible for sowing unpeaceful actions to stop and instead join the government, civil, and religious leaders in pursuing peace and development for all people of good will.”