MANILA - Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo condemned the blast in front of a church in Sultan Kudarat on Sunday where at least three civilians were injured.
In a statement, the cardinal called the blast a "pure act of terrorism" and an attack on freedom of religion.
"As the leader of the Archdiocese of Cotabato, I voice my strong condemnation against this irrational act of terrorism. It is an attack on innocent human lives. It is also an attack on freedom of religion, on freedom to worship," the prelate said.
Quevedo called on authorities to speed up the hunt for the perpetrators while urging the citizens to remain watchful.
"I appeal to our security and police forces to ferret out those responsible and bring them to justice. Let us all be vigilant against acts of terrorism. May the Lord of mercy and compassion provide us constant protection," the cardinal added.
Sultan Kudarat is under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Cotabato.
The improvised device exploded as two of the victims left the church in Barangay Saliao at 6:40 a.m., according to provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Raul Supiter.
Recovered from the crime scene were a triggering device, 9-volt battery, plastic container, concrete nails and a SIM card that could lead to clues on who left the bomb. - with a report from Chai Tabunaway, ABS-CBN News