DAVAO CITY (MindaNews) — Mindanao’s lone Cardinal, Orlando Quevedo has called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police to work with the “now forces of peace” — the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front — “to flush out the perpetrators” of the August 28 and September 2 bombings in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat and “bring them to justice.”
“As the religious Leader of all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Cotabato, I absolutely condemn these terroristic acts. I enjoin every true believer in the One True God, by whatever Name the Almighty and Merciful God is called, to pray for the victims and for their families,” Quevedo, the Archbishop of Cotabato, said.
Sultan Kudarat, a predominantly Christian province, falls under Quevedo’s archdiocese.
“I strongly urge our military, security and peace officers with the collaboration of the MILF and the MNLF, now forces for peace, to flush out the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” he said in a statement e-mailed to MindaNews shortly before noon of September 3.
Five persons have been killed and at least 40 others injured in the two bombings that came five days apart: three killed and 30 injured on August 28 when an improvised bomb exploded along the highway in Barangay Kalawag 3 near ‘ukay-ukay’ (second hand) stalls; and two killed and 14 others injured on September 3 when an improvised bomb exploded in an internet cafeadjacent to the Novo Department Store in Barangay Kalawag 2.
Quevedo said among the five slain in the two bombings were “two young men who are active in our Catholic youth ministry” while “scores of others, equally innocent, have been wounded.”
Jun Mark Palencia Luda, described by Sister Alice Original as a “very active youth catechist,” died on the spot at the internet cafe on September 2. In the earlier bombing, catechist Wilmark Lapidez, Youth District Coordinator, was also killed.
Mark’s cousin, Marialen Datugan Luda, who was among those in critical condition, passed away Monday morning, September 3, at the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital.
Edna Domingo, Mark’s neighbor, told MindaNews in a telephone interview that Mark was in the internet cafe Sunday night to help his cousin Marialen on an assignment due for submission the next day, Monday.
Mark, 18, a catechist at the San Carlos Borromeo Church, was a college student at the Sultan Kudarat State University where Edna said he was taking up Drafting while Marialen, 15, was a Grade 10 student at the same university.
Addressing his statement to “all people of good will,” Quevedo said “true Believers in God have to cry out in outrage at the terrorist bombings in the town of Isulan, Province of Maguindanao.”
“All religions are religions of peace,” he stressed.
The Cardinal said the Islamic State reportedly claimed responsibility for the first bombing while some suspect the perpetrators were the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) that had earlier pledged allegiance to the IS.
“In either case, religion is distorted in order to commit brazen crimes that cry out to heaven,” Quevedo wrote.
Philippine National Police director general Oscar Albayalde has ordered the immediate relief of Sultan Kudarat provincial police chief, Sr. Supt. Noel Kinazo and Isulan police chief, Supt. Celestino Daniel.
Isulan Mayor Marites Pallasigue suspended classes in all levels in both public and private schools on September 3 “until the situation has normalized.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)