Pope Francis, world leaders condemn attacks

Pope Francis condemned Sunday’s bombing of a Catholic church that killed 20 people in Jolo, Sulu.

“I reiterate my strongest reprobation for this episode of violence who is once again plunging the Christian community into mourning,” Pope Francis said during an Angelus message as he wound up World Youth Day celebrations in Panama.

The United States, European Union, Australia, and Canada on Monday also condemned Sunday’s bombing but vowed to continue to support the peace process in Mindanao.

The Department of Foreign Affairs assured the international community that the perpetrators of the cathedral bombing would be brought to justice.

“We grieve over the unnecessary loss of so many lives in this act of violence than can only be perpetrated by the forces of evil. We will find them and bring them to justice. Those responsible for this crime will not go unpunished,” the DFA said in a statement.

Despite the attack, the DFA said the government will continue its efforts to bring peace to Mindanao.

“This terrorist act comes at a sensitive and yet hopeful period following the ratification by an overwhelming majority of the Bangsamoro Organic Law that seeks to bring peace and progress to Mindanao,” it said.

“The Philippine government remains steadfast, along with international partners and other stakeholders, in achieving lasting peace in the Bangsamoro, particularly in the Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi,” it added.

In a statement, the US Embassy said: “The US Embassy in the Philippines condemns the bombings in Jolo. We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and hope the injured make a quick recovery.”

The EU described the bombing as “a human tragedy” and “an attack against the basic right to practice one’s religion.”

“The EU fully supports the Mindanao peace process and last week’s plebiscite on greater Bangsamoro regional autonomy. The EU plans to continue such support in the future,” it said.

Canada said that the attack should not undermine the efforts to secure peace in Mindanao.

“We convey our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families and wish a prompt recovery to the injured. These reprehensible acts will not undermine the desire of the Filipino people in Mindanao and throughout the country for peace and security,” it said in a statement issued by its embassy in Manila. 

The Australian government advised its citizens to stay up to date with its travel advice even as it also condoled with the victims’ families.

Japanese Ambassador to Manila Koji Haneda also offered his condolences.

“I am greatly shocked and cannot help feeling strong indignation to learn that two atrocious bombing incidents occurred on Sunday morning at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Sulu, Such terrorist attacks shall never be tolerated,” Haneda said in a statement.

He said Tokyo stands with the Philippine government and the Filipinos in “overcoming this difficulty in solidarity” as pledged Japan’s continued support to the Philippines.

On Sunday evening, the United Kingdom again advised its residents against traveling to certain areas in Mindanao in the wake of the Sulu bombings.

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice against all travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups,” it said in an advisory.

READ: ISIS owns up to Jolo blasts

“The FCO advice against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao [excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands] and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism,” the advisory added.

Local politicians also condemned the attack.

“That was s really very tragic. I am anxious to go back to Manila now so we can find out what Congress can do from our end,” said Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the Laguindingan Airport.

Arroyo also said she is confident the Duterte administration will go the extra mile to assist those families and relatives of the the victims.

“Please do not lose heart. I am sure the government will do everything to make things right,” Arroyo told the people of Sulu.

PBA party-list representative and Sulu caretaker congressman Jericho Nograles echoed Speaker’s Arroyo’s sentiment.

“Our nation is trying to bring peace in Mindanao. Today’s cowardly act will only strengthen government’s resolve to rid Sulu of terrorists,” he added.

Nograles also extended condolences to the families of the victims. “We pray for your loss and grieve with you,” he said.

READ: Jolo blasts: 20 dead, 81 hurt

The Sultan of Sulu has condemned the twin bomb attacks on the Jolo cathedral, calling it an “act of savagery to the highest degree.”

“I call on all concerned authorities to investigate this crime without bias and prejudice and bring the perpetrators to justice,” Sultan Kiram said in an official statement he posted online.

The Sultan said Muslims and Christians have lived in harmony together in Jolo. Sectarian violence could only be designed to drive a wedge between them, he added. With Maricel V. Cruz and Nash B. Maulana

Topics: Pope Francis , Catholic church , World Youth Day , Department of Foreign Affairs
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