The social action arm of the Catholic Church in the Philippines decried the “blatant act of terror” that killed at least four people and injured 42 others at the Mindanao State University (MSU) in the Islamic city of Marawi in the southern Philippines on December 3.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, president of Caritas Philippines, condemned the bombing that was committed “especially at this time when we are celebrating the Mindanao Week of Peace!”
The blast occurred during the celebration of the Holy Mass in Dimaporo Gymnasium in MSU on the First Sunday of Advent which marks the start of the preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ.
The injured, mostly Catholic students, were brought to the government-run Amai Pakpak Medical Center.
The prelate called for “a thorough and expeditious investigation into this heinous act,” adding that the perpetrators must be “swiftly identified, apprehended, and brought to justice.”
Bishop Bagaforo urged authorities, the religious sector, the academe, and the community “to collaborate in fostering an environment of peace” amidst the violent attack on the Catholic community at MSU.
“Concerted efforts must be made to prevent the recurrence of such violent incidents and to safeguard the fundamental right to worship without fear of anyone,” he said.
Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur condemned the “terroristic attacks” on MSU, which he described as a place that “promote(s) the culture of peace and mold(s) our youth to be the future shapers of this country.”
He ordered security forces “to get to the bottom” of the incident “immediately.” The governor also extended his sympathies to the families of the victims of “this senseless act of violence and terrorism.”
Lawmaker Zio Alonto Adiong of Lanao del Sur 1st district instructed his office “to gather information from the victims” and “extend medical assistance to the wounded.”
“We will work closely with the [Philippine National Police] and the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] to sort this out and arrest the perpetrators behind this barbaric attack,” he said.
Authorities are still investigating the motive of the bombing and the explosives that were used.
In a statement, MSU said it is “deeply saddened and appalled by the act of violence that occurred during a religious gathering.”
We unequivocally condemn in the strongest possible terms this senseless and horrific act and extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families. We are committed to providing support and assistance to those affected by this tragedy,” the statement read.
MSU stressed that its “immediate priority is to ensure the safety and well-being” of the community and the studentry, “particularly our Christian community”.
It said that the attack is “an assault on our core values and our commitment to creating a safe and inclusive community for all”.