CHR seeks accountability over recent bombing of Cotabato Catholic chapel

James Relativo - Philstar.com
CHR seeks accountability over recent bombing of Cotabato Catholic chapel
Onlookers mill around the Sto. Niño Chapel in Purok Bagong Silang in Barangay Rosary Heights 3 in Cotabato City, rocked by a grenade blast on Sunday morning that hurt two worshipers.
Philstar.com / John Unson

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) denounced the recent grenade attack by still unknown perpetrators during a Catholic Mass in Cotabato City, an act which injured two civilians.

Two suspects aboard a motorcycle threw a grenade into the entrance of Sto. Niño Chapel in Purok Bagong Silang, Barangay Rosary Heights 3. Among those wounded by the shrapnel include Marybel Atis and Rosita Tubilo who were treated by responders.

"This is the second time in a span of a few months that these bombings have occurred in places of worship in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)," said the commission in a statement on Saturday.

"The Commission deplores all acts of violence, especially those targeted against groups who identify with certain religious beliefs, as these run counter to the progress that we have reached towards promoting religious freedom across the country."

The explosion is said to have caused panic among the mixed Muslim and Christian residents of the neighborhood.

It could be remembered that a Catholic mass held within Mindanao State University was also bombed in December 2023. The incident was allegedly done by elements of Dawlah Islamiya.

Regional groups and BARMM officials have condemned the recent bombing. The executive council of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) likewise called it a "satanic act," urging witnesses to help officials identify the suspects.

Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) Carlito Galvez Jr. have also extended their deepest sympathies to families of those who were injured, saying that the blast was an attack to religious freedom.

"We echo the call that people of faith should be able to freely exercise their beliefs as this is enshrined in both domestic policies and international human rights standards," said the CHR.

"The Commission is one with the government in addressing this matter. We welcome the efforts currently being pursued by the Cotabato City Police to investigate this matter and ensure that accountability is exacted upon the perpetrators."

"A peaceful environment is necessary for every Filipino to thrive and be able to freely exercise their religious freedom. After all, a vital component to ensuring a harmonious society is that all citizens feel safe and protected."

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