Terror in Sri Lanka’s Catholic churches
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - April 23, 2019 - 12:00am

Holy Week went by quietly in Cebu City. Many of us did not take a vacation, rather stayed on “Staycation” (Cebu City was like 40 years ago with zero traffic) and joined the three-day Holy Triduum at the Sacred Heart Parish officiated by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ (He composed the famous Christian songs, “Tanging Yaman” and “Hindi kita Malilimutan”). I have joined the Holy Week Triduum at Sacred Heart for the past three years now and Fr. Manoling gave us not only the history of the events about the Holy Week, but at the same time the spiritual and moral teachings that very few priests could give the faithful. For giving us an uplifted soul during the Holy Week… my thanks to you Fr. Manoling. I hope to hear from you again.

Meanwhile, the Catholic world was still in shock when at the start of the observance of the Holy Week, the world famous Gothic Cathedral, the Norte Dame in Paris aptly named after the Blessed Virgin Mary burned… thankfully not to the ground. To our comfort, the billionaires of France offered to fund the rehabilitation of this iconic church. As I pointed out, it was the French Catholics who built the Norte Dame 800 years ago, and many people saw a divine message in that fire…for the French people to renew their Christian faith… that’s the only thing that could restore the Notre Dame Cathedral. Let’s hope that the French return to God very soon.

So last Sunday we celebrated Easter… but as we turned on the news what greeted us was that devastating news from Colombo, Sri Lanka where more than 290 people have been killed and 500 injured by suicide bombers. Apparently, the suicide bombers hit three Catholic churches and three upscale hotels in the Indian Ocean island nation. At least 35 of the victims were foreigners, including several Americans. Since Sri Lanka veered away from the civil war, it has been building a growing tourism industry, but with this news, I doubt if their tourism industry can recover from this terrifying event.

We gathered from a top Sri Lankan police official that they had alerted security officials 10 days earlier about a threat to churches from a radical Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath. Now whether any stringent security measures were put in place…we will have to find out. Meanwhile, Pope Francis, after celebrating mass in St. Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday, said the attacks had “brought mourning and sorrow” on the most important of Christian holidays. Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, with Hindus the largest minority, about 12 percent, followed by Muslims at less than 10 percent. About 6 percent of the population is Catholic.

Just a month ago, we learned of that horrifying news that a lone white supremacist terrorist attacked two mosques in New Zealand killing 49 people and wounding many others. This gave a warning to Christian churches to be on the lookout for any anti-Christian sentiment that could erupt because of this killing of Muslims in New Zealand. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said that he and other ministers had not been warned, in what appeared to be a sign of recent frictions within the government hierarchy.

We observed that the civil war that gripped Sri Lanka lasted from 1983 to 2009, when the Sinhalese majority fought against the minority Tamils. By the way, Sri Lankan militants became known for having invented the suicide vest and made suicide bombing a Sri-Lankan trademark. Let’s hope that Sri Lanka would be able to stop these Sri Lankan terrorists before it develops into another civil war.

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We read in the news that Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan last Saturday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for accusing opposition senatorial candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II of “wasting” the lives of the 44 police commandos who died in the 2015 Mamasapano clash, saying such remarks from the chief executive were “politicking” and a form of “diversionary tactic.” This is the problem of politics, you need to respond to whoever is sowing any intrigue about you especially if you were the DILG secretary.

So clearly, Sen. Pangilinan doesn’t want Mar Roxas to be blamed for the Mamasapano massacre. However, whether he likes it or not, a lot of things have been written about Mar Roxas on the MRT3 that a year and a half ago was filed in the Office of  the Ombudsman on December 2017. This was a month after the Department of Transportation filed charges of plunder against former secretaries Mar Roxas, Joseph Abaya and 28 other officials of the DoTC. What about my question when Mar Roxas bought Mahindra vehicles at a price far more expensive than the venerable Toyota Fortuner? To date, Mar Roxas has not answered our queries. So I will wait for him to reply!

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Email: vsbobita@gmail.com

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