MANILA, July 6, 2009—Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin M. Bagaforo said he was deeply saddened by the turn of events yesterday morning at the vicinity of the Immaculate Conception cathedral in downtown Cotabato City where five persons died and 25 others were wounded.
An improvised explosive device ripped through a roasted pig stand, a spitting distance from the entrance of the said cathedral.
“Ang unang reaksyon ng mga tao ay galit lalo na ng mga kamag-anak at kaibigan ng mga namatay at nasugatan,” the prelate said over Veritas Pilipinas early Monday morning. However, he added the Church has called for sobriety as it appealed to all sectors, from the government to various religious groups and organizations not to resort to violence.
“I said Mass at 11:00 A.M., nearly three hours after the incident, in another church and I said there’s no room for violence because it will cause more violence,” the 55-year old prelate said.
He added they noticed a decrease in churchgoers in the succeeding Masses in the city yesterday.
“This only shows people were frightened as there were several who were confused by the sudden and violent turn of events,” he said.
He said he called on residents “assuring everyone that everything is under control and everything will be normal” although he admitted it will take a long time for people to recover.
Notre Dame University had to postpone its classes today because most of its students were at the cathedral when the explosion took place.
Bishop Bagaforo said the students’ trauma will still be addressed by experts before they return to their normal classes. He added they have always reminded people to be wary of packages left behind by unidentified people and report the same to the authorities at the soonest possible time.
“Fr. Edwin De Gracia, the cathedral rector, will implement security measures not only in the cathedral but its perimeter through the Philippine military personnel who have been trained for the purpose,” the prelate further said.
He said he will again call on Cotabato City residents to remain calm as he appealed for sobriety.
“Maging mahinahon tayo, huwag idaan sa dahas at pag-ibayuhin natin an gating pagdarasal as there is power in prayers and third, kung mayroon tayong maitutulong kahit kaunti, marami ang naging biktima, karamihan ay mahihirap vendors, bystanders na dapat nating tulungan,” he said.
He said Fr. Edwin De Gracia will receive donations from concerned citizens showing their sympathy and solidarity with the victims.
“They may also call 064-4212918, the Archbishop’s residence,” Bishop Bagaforo said. (Melo M. Acuña)
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