Catholic Mass bombing sparks outrage in Marawi, elsewhere

Herbie Gomez

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Catholic Mass bombing sparks outrage in Marawi, elsewhere

Authorities at the site of a Catholic Mass that a powerful explosion disrupted in Marawi City

Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur

The statements of condemnation underscore the gravity of the attack on a state-run institution that symbolizes the promotion of peace and the molding of future leaders

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – A deadly bombing that killed and hurt those attending a Catholic Mass in a university gym in Marawi City on Sunday morning, December 3, sparked widespread condemnation both within and outside the predominantly Muslim city.

Officials and leaders from various sectors denounced the bombing at the Dimaporo Gymnasium of the state-run Mindanao State University (MSU) during a Catholic Mass attended mostly by students. 

In a 11:15 am report, Marawi police said the explosion killed four people and hurt 45 others. 

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At least 4 dead, 45 hurt in explosion during Mass in Marawi

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Of the 45, five were in a critical state; most were hurt in the stampede that took place after the explosion, according to the police.

The MSU announced a suspension of classes and other academic activities in the campus as authorities prioritize the safety and well-being of the university’s constituents.

In a statement, the MSU assured that it was committed to providing aid to those affected by bombing, which it condemned as a “senseless and horrific act.”

“The Mindanao State University (MSU) community is deeply saddened and appalled by the act of violence…. We stand in solidarity with our Christian community and all those affected by this tragedy…. This attack is an assault on our core values and our commitment to creating a safe and inclusive community for all,” read parts of the university’s statement.

The deadly attack drew strong condemnation in Marawi, Lanao del Sur, and elsewhere.

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The statements of condemnation underscored the gravity of the attack on a state-run institution that symbolizes the promotion of peace and the molding of future leaders.

The University of the Philippines (UP) in the Visayas expressed outrage as it condoled with the families of the victims.

“As a kindred institution, we affirm in the strongest terms our solidarity with MSU-Marawi and the Mindanao State University System at this very difficult time,” said Dr. Clement Camposano, UP-Visayas chancellor.

The Moro Consensus Group (MCG) said the bomb attack was “purely evil,“ even as it called on authorities to thoroughly investigate it.

MCG convenor Drieza Lininding noted the university was spared from destruction during the months of fighting between government forces and the Maute group, and the bombardment in 2017.

Lininding said the last thing Marawi needs as it moves to recovery and rehabilitation are violent acts such as the Sunday bombing.

“MSU was spared during the 2017 Marawi siege. And now? For what?” he said.

In Northern Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez said the bombing was “a despicable act of violence that strikes at the very soul of our nation.”

“We vehemently condemn this heinous assault on the sacred space of worship and unity,” Rodriguez said.

He added, “In the face of such adversity, we stand resolute, united against those who seek to undermine the values of peace and solidarity between Christians and Muslims. This act of violence will not define us; instead, it will fortify our commitment to justice, resilience, and the unwavering pursuit of a harmonious and inclusive society.”

Rodriguez urged the Bangsamoro regional government to help authorities bring the perpetrators to justice. 

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Foreign governments express condolences, condemn explosion in Mindanao State University

Lanao del Sur 1st District Representative Zia Adiong called those behind the bombing “murderers who targeted innocents [who were] in prayer.”

“There is no room in Marawi, in Lanao del Sur, or in the entire Philippines for them. We implore upon our authorities to leave no stone unturned until the perpetrators of this vile act are brought to justice. It is the bare minimum that we must do to ensure that the right to life of our citizens are protected,” he said.

His brother, Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr. said the attack was disturbing in that the local government upholds basic human rights, “and that includes the right to religion,” in the Muslim-majority province.

Governor Adiong said, “Terroristic attacks on educational insitutions must also be condemned because these are places that promote the culture of peace and mold our youth to be the future shapers of this country.”

A former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman, noted that the targets of the attack were mostly young people.

Hataman called on authorities to to unmask and arrest those responsible for the violence. 

“This is pure, plain and simple terrorism. Mga inosenteng sibilyan ang biktima (Innocent civilians are the victims),” he said. –

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Herbie Gomez

Herbie Salvosa Gomez is coordinator of Rappler’s bureau in Mindanao, where he has practiced journalism for over three decades. He writes a column called “Pastilan,” after a familiar expression in Cagayan de Oro, tackling issues in the Southern Philippines.