Catholic bishops condemn bus bombing in Philippines

.- The Catholic bishops of the Philippines and other leaders have condemned recent acts of violence in the country, which include a deadly bus bombing and the murder of a Catholic radio journalist.

On Jan. 25 at least five people died and at least 13 were wounded when a packed bus was bombed in Makati City, a suburb of Manila. Initial investigations showed the explosive device was an 81-milimeter mortar which used a cell phone as a detonator.

The country’s police force had already been placed on full alert after President Benigno Aquino’s warning of an elevated terror threat, CBCP News reports.

Teodoro Bacani, retired Bishop of Novaliches, said the Church “firmly denounces” the violence.

“We hope you will realize that killing people will do nothing good. Violence does not solve any problem,” Bacani said, addressing the perpetrator.

Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Caloocan called on the government to reach a quick resolution of the incident. He also called on authorities to be more vigilant and proactive in preventing crimes.

“Let the enforcers of law and order wake up. We cannot just ignore this alarming incident,” he remarked.

Violence also took the life of Catholic radio journalist and environmental advocate Dr. Gerardo Ortega. After his Jan. 24 morning radio show he was gunned down in a store along the national highway in Palawan City, in the western island province of Palawan.

Ortega, who was also a veterinarian, had been receiving death threats since his radio program went on the air in 2009, his daughter said.

He was involved in a campaign to protect the indigenous communities of the island and his show often featured missionaries, NGOs and environmental groups opposed to large mining projects authorized by the central and provincial governments of the Philippines.

The mining projects put the indigenous peoples’ survival at risk.

Artiso Mandawa, Chairman of Ancestral Land Domain Watch Network of Palawan, said Ortega exposed bribery in the government, especially in the endorsement of mining projects.

A suspect has been arrested in the case and is in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation.

Ortega is survived by his wife Patty and five children.

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