Gov’t had info on Jolo church bombing as early as August 2018 — Lorenzana
MANILA — Government has been receiving reports of bomb threats in Catholic churches in Mindanao as early as August 2018, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted on Tuesday.
“There were reports that Catholic churches in Jolo, Basilan, and Zamboanga would be bombed as early as August 2018, with Jolo as most probable,” the defense chief told reporters.
“Since then, the Jolo Cathedral was guarded by soldiers 24 hours a day,” he said.
Sunday’s deadly twin explosions at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu during a Mass left 21 killed and at least a hundred wounded.
The first bomb went off inside the cathedral, which was later followed by a second blast outside as government troops rushed to respond.
“We will never know how the bombers got in or near the church as the soldiers guarding the main door all died,” Lorenzana said.
“While we were briefed that all people going inside were searched, it is possible that there may be lapse in the procedure,” he added.
The military is looking at the Ajang-Ajang faction of the Abu Sayyaf as primary suspects for the attack. But the Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.
The attack came six days after a majority of Muslim areas in the southern Philippines approved the creation of a new autonomous region in a referendum. Sulu, however, voted against the creation of the new Bangsamoro region. /muf
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.