NCMF Secretary Saidamen B. Pangarungan hands over to Queenie Padilla documents showing her designation as NCMF ‘ambassador of peace’ during a conference in Marawi City.
MARAWI CITY, January 27 — Un-Islamic and barbaric.
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos today condemned in the strongest of terms the twin bombings of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Sulu.
NCMF Secretary and CEO Saidamen B. Pangarungan issued this statement, describing the attack as “un-Islamic and barbaric.”
“Nothing but a pure evil the bombings and the people behind it,” he said in a statement relayed by Dr. Dimapuno Alonto Datu Ramos, Jr., director other Bureau of External Relations (NCMF-BER).
“On behalf of the Muslim Filipinos, we express our profound sadness and unity with the peace-loving people of Sulu as we offer our sympathies and condolences to the families and relatives of the victims,” Pangarungan said.
In Islam, he said, alluding to a verse in the Noble Qur’an of the Muslims, houses of worship like temples, churches, synagogues, and mosques are protected in Muslim lands, and even defended by Muslims.
“We call on the concerned law enforcement agencies of the government to do their utmost to get to the bottom of the attacks and bring the perpetrators to the bar of justice so they can answer for their dastardly deeds,” said Pangarungan.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Philippines has voiced sadness over the news that many people died in the Jolo cathedral bomb blasts.
“We are in close coordination with provincial health authorities, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and other responders to offer support, in addition to medical materials already supplied,” the ICRC said in statement sent to SDN — Science and Digital News by Allison Lopez of the ICRC.
The ICRC also emphasized that “according to international humanitarian law (IHL), civilians must never be harmed and that places of worship enjoy protection from attacks.”
Pangarungan, Datu Ramos and some NCMF Central Office staff visited Marawi City for the conference held by the NCMF in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
As the NCMF leadership was preaching against violent extremism, the two bombs planted by still unknown person/persons exploded inside and outside the cathedral.
As of 10:19 p.m. per the report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer citing the Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Regional Office (PRO) 9, the twin blasts killed 20 people and injured 81 others.
PRO 9 said as of 1:10 p.m., the fatalities included 17 civilians, 5 military personnel, 2 police officers, 2 coast guard elements, and 90 civilians who suffered injuries.
The first bomb exploded inside the cathedral while Mass was being celebrated, followed by the second explosion a minute later near the cathedral’s main entrance.
In the Islamic City of Marawi, as Datu Ramos relayed to SDN — Science and Digital News, the NCMF in the same morning was hosting its first project with the United Nations Development Programmed (UNDP titled “Strengthening National and Local Resilience to Risks of Violent Extremism in the Philippines” following the five-month Marawi siege in May 2017.
Datu Ramos said over 1,000 people participated in the launching of the Php14-million project funded by the UNDP.
It was launched during the conference that was also highlighted by a youth assembly. The event was held at the International Convention Center of the Mindanao State University (MSU) Main Campus, around a stone’s throw away from the Ground Zero of the siege.
“The collaborative event to address violent extremism among Muslim Filipino youths in the South was met with enthusiasm and hope for a peaceful future,” he said.
At the conference, the NCMF head dwelt on the dynamics between the government’s efforts, international assistance, and the role of the Muslim Filipino youth in addressing violent extremism in the Philippines.
He emphasized President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s immense concern regarding violent extremism and his orders to promote the government’s message against violent extremism.
Pangarungan took time to extend his gratitude to the UNDP even as he thanked the trust the people of Japan had given to the Filipino people. Japan and the Philippines have been strong partners in peace-building as part of the Mindanao peace process, particularly in the soon-to-be-abolished Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“Let us all help the government and keep in mind that we should Build, Build, Build Peace,” he called on the more than 1,000 participants in particular and all Filipinos in general. (EKU)
This story may need update. All photographs courtesy of NCMF-BER Director Dr. Dimapuno Alonto Datu Ramos, Jr.