- May 30, 2020
The bombing of a Catholic cathedral in the Philippines on Sunday may elicit various emotions, but surprise shouldn’t be among them.
Muslims in the southern Philippines voted Monday in a referendum on a new autonomous region that seeks to end nearly half a century of unrest, in what their leaders are touting as the best alternative to a new wave of Islamic State group-inspired militants.
Security forces were placed on full alert in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao following a deadly suicide bomb blast in Basilan province that killed 10 people.
The historically peaceful Marawi on Mindanao Island in the South was the site of a sustained siege by Islamic State loyalists, who wanted to claim it as an IS caliphate. More than 1,100 people — mostly IS fighters — died in the battle. Mindanao’s Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato says “the threat of terrorism is still there” and that extremist ideology and the plans for a caliphate continue.
300 gunmen of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, known as BIFF, attacked Pigcawayan town, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of residents. The militants also desecrated a church. The BIFF, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that has signed a peace deal with the government, has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
“The value of witnessing cuts across generations,” Jesuit Father Tim Ofracio said. He was speaking both about the cause for martyrdom for Jesuit Father Francesco Palliola as well as Father Teresito Soganub and other Catholics kidnapped recently by militants. “These are values that raise the dignity of the human person.” He said there is a demand for a “new kind of martyrdom” today, “like dying to yourself and living for others.”