Statement of the Commission on Human Rights decrying the grenade attack on a Catholic chapel in Cotabato

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The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) denounces the recent bombing carried out by currently unknown perpetrators during a Catholic Mass in Cotabato which injured two civilians on 19 May 2024.

According to investigation reports, two unidentified men on a motorbike tossed a grenade into the entrance of the Sto. Niño Chapel in Purok Bagong Silang in Barangay Rosary Heights 3, Cotabato City. The explosion had injured two worshippers, Marybel Atis, 40, and Rosita Tubilo, 65, who suffered from shrapnel wounds and were promptly treated by barangay emergency responders.

It must be noted that last year, 05 December 2023, the CHR also issued a statement on the bombing of a Catholic Mass in Marawi City. [1] This is the second time in a span of a few months that these bombings have occurred in places of worship in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The Commission deplores all acts of violence, especially those targeted against groups who identify with certain religious beliefs, as these run counter to the progress that we have reached towards promoting religious freedom across the country.

As the country’s national human rights institution, we continue to sound the alarm on the prevalence of these incidents. We echo the call that people of faith should be able to freely exercise their beliefs as this is enshrined in both domestic policies and international human rights standards.

The Commission is one with the government in addressing this matter. We welcome the efforts currently being pursued by the Cotabato City Police to investigate this matter and ensure that accountability is exacted upon the perpetrators.

The CHR will continue to be vigilant on similar incidents and collaborate with the government towards efforts which guarantee everyone’s right to security. We reiterate that all forms of violence do not bring any merit to anyone, and merely sows fear across societies and prompts a vicious cycle of conflict against groups. A peaceful environment is necessary for every Filipino to thrive and be able to freely exercise their religious freedom. After all, a vital component to ensuring a harmonious society is that all citizens feel safe and protected.

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