SULU - When he entered the church Sunday for the first mass, he had a bad feeling something would happen.
"Mabigat ang pakiramdam ko. Para siyang... Lenten Season ang time," the priest saying Mass at the Jolo cathedral told ABS-CBN News.
Nothing happened until the second reading of the second mass when a bomb exploded inside the church.
"Sumabog na, kami nakaupo, pati 'yung upuan namin humagis," he narrated.
He and another priest crawled to the back room and took off their robes, in case the terrorists would look for them. The second bomb went off.
"'Yung pangalawa…narinig ko ang mga boses. Nag-rescue ang mga sundalo doon sa entrance. So pagpasok nila, doon na pumutok," he said.
The priests then went to help the wounded. All they could hear was weeping and wailing.
"'Yung isa binuhat ko…sabi niya sa akin, 'Mai ta, Father?" Sa salita natin, 'Bakit ganun, Father?'" he said.
But he was not a stranger to the explosion. He had experienced something in the past while also holding a Mass on Christmas Day in Jolo in 2010.
Col. Noel Detoyato, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), had said that a woman may have brought the bomb into the church.
"In the course of the investigation, may natanong na mga wounded sa ospital. Dalawa sa kanila ang nagsabi na may nakita silang babae na nag-iwan ng black bag on the fifth pew ng simbahan coming from the back," he said.
Authorities are also investigating if the incident was a suicide bombing or not.
"The ISIS may claim that they were the ones who did it, but for our investigation, it doesn't look like it's a suicide bombing. It appears that still the traditional type of IED that was used in this incident. It was electronically triggered type of improvised explosive device," said Senior Supt. Bernard Banac, spokesperson of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
President Rodrigo Duterte and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana believed otherwise.
"Yes, blowing them up. Mag-asaw...iyong pumasok," the President said.
Lorenzana said, "The second bomb that exploded at the entrance about a minute and a half after may have been a suicide bomber as indicated by body parts strewn all over."