Christmas attack in Philippines mars festivities

Tree of lights outside the Cainta church shortly before Midnight Mass, December 25.
Tree of lights outside the Cainta church shortly before Midnight Mass, December 25.

UPDATE: 12/272010 – Today, the Philippine National Police admitted security lapses in the Christmas Day blast. According to the police director for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, the police received a warning about the bombing two days before the attack but failed to act swiftly. An investigation is ongoing. Authorities also updated the number injured to 11. The church is located inside a police compound on the island of Jolo.

This morning, local updates have been coming in from Jolo, where an explosion hit a church shortly after dawn. A military spokesperson told the Philippine Inquirer that a blast struck the church in Jolo, Sulu at 7:15 while mass was taking place, injuring 6, including the priest officiating the mass.

The Chief Superintendent for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao told the Inquirer:

“It’s a well guarded compound. It’s manned and secured by regular police forces, by the Special Action Force and a nearby detachment of the Philippine Marines, kaya hindi ko malaman kung bakit nabombahan ang chapel at paano nakalusot ang bomba (that’s why I don’t know how the chapel could have been bombed and how the bomb was sneaked in). They have to be investigated.”

It should be noted that the US continues to deploy forces on the island and it is where, in September last year, a roadside bomb killed two American Marines.

Here’s a video from the Midnight Mass I attended in Cainta last night, where the grounds were filled with worshipers through the early morning.

Another story worth noting this week is the release of the health workers, known as the Morong 43, that were imprisoned under former President Gloria Arroyo. They were accused of being part of the NPA, armed wing of the communist party, but the Administration of current President Aquino has moved to drop the charges, which human rights organizations had criticized as politically-motivated. Bulatlat has been covering the case extensively and notes that 10 still remain detained.

On a lighter note, the Christmas season is a time of numerous parties here. One of my favorite aspects is the plentiful food, including puto bumbong, a sweet purple rice dessert with shaved coconut and sugar. Filipinas Magazine has an article about the delicacy, which was popular on the streets last night.

Putobumbong vendor sells wares outside the Cainta Church, Midnight Mass, December 25.
Putobumbong vendor sells wares outside the Cainta Church, Midnight Mass, December 25.
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