MANILA — The United States, Australia, the European Union (EU) as well as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday “strongly condemned” the twin explosions during a Sunday mass service in Jolo, Sulu that left 20 dead and 112 others wounded.
In a tweet on his official page, the Canadian leader described the attack as a “despicable act of cowardice”, and stressed that Canada strongly condemns the cathedral bombing.
“My deepest condolences to all the families affected by this tragedy,” he said.
In a statement, Guterres called for the perpetrators of the crime to be “swiftly brought to justice.”
This, as he reiterated UN support for the Philippine government to fight terrorism and violent extremism, and to carry forward the peace process in Bangsamoro region.
US Ambassador to the Philippine Sung Kim committed America’s support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“We condemn this senseless violence and we will do everything possible to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.
Tagging the Department of Foreign Affairs and Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne also sent Canberra’s condolences to those affected by the bomb attacks.
“We stand with the Government and people of the Philippines in condemning acts of terror and in striving for a lasting peace in Mindanao,” she said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, the EU, through its spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Maja Kocijancic, described the blasts as a “human tragedy” and an “attack against the basic right to practice one’s religion.”
“The European Union sends its sincere condolences to the many victims of today’s bombing during mass in the Cathedral of Jolo in the southern Philippines,” Kocijancic said.
The EU official also relayed the bloc’s support to the Mindanao Peace Process and last week’s plebiscite on greater Bangsamoro regional autonomy. “The EU plans to continue such support in the future,” Kocijancic said.
The two explosions on Sunday, which tore through the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, came a week before the second Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite on February 6.
The Philippine government is currently still trying to determine if the bombings are linked to the BOL’s recent ratification and the second round of referendum.
On January 21, an overwhelming majority voted in favor of the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao effectively ratifying the BOL.
The second phase of the BOL plebiscite will determine if the province of Lanao del Norte except Iligan City; the municipalities of Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pikit, and Pigkawayan in the province of North Cotabato will be part of the new autonomous political entity.
Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA – northboundasia.com AFP CMO Photo