MIDSAYAP – Authorities have tightened security at Sto. Nino Church in Poblacion 2, Midsayap, North Cotabato following a blast during the Christmas Eve mass.
Parochial vicar Joel Canonizado said that instead of the usual New Year's Eve mass at 8 p.m., it will be done at 6 p.m. Saturday night.
They have also requested for help from the military to secure the area. Canonizado said they are hoping that soldiers can be deployed around the church perimeter, along with police and village watchmen.
Canonizado was officiating the mass during the recent grenade blast in front of the church, which left 15 people injured, including a policeman. The grenade blew up beneath the patrol car of Midsayap police, parked meters away from the building.
President Rodrigo Duterte has claimed that the church was targeted due to comments by Canonizado about extrajudicial killings. This was disputed by the priest, who said the president might not have understood that law enforcers were the target of the attack.
"Of course it's not [the police]. Ang mga pulis nga, they claim na sila ang target...Maybe the President did not know that the police patrol car was the target of whoever threw the grenade," he said.
Canonizado supports the Catholic Church’s stand against extrajudicial killings.
"It is something that is ongoing. It's not going away. Nagiging regular siya, in fact maraming namamatay and it seems natatakot na ang mga taong magsalita. Even some church leaders are afraid to talk,” he said.
He added that the government and the Church should talk about how to eradicate the "common problem".
“Against [ang Church] sa abortion, sa capital punishment. Iyang extrajudicial killing pa na klarong walang due process, walang rule of law, barilin kaagad. You know there's something wrong about that," the priest stressed.
Canonizado said that in every homily, he asks and calls on the people to pray not only for the Pope and Church leaders but also for Duterte to be guided to do what is right.
After the blast, the Church called on the people to be brave, and continue their faith.