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Press Release - Dela Rosa: Privilege Speech - Bombing in Mindanao State University (MSU), Marawi City

It was the Sunday of the Mindanao Week of Peace.

And for the entire Catholic Church, it was the First Sunday of Advent. The first of four Sundays where we light candles as a symbol of hope and signal our preparedness to welcome the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, this should've-been joyous occasion for the faithful quickly became a day of sorrow.

Magsisimba lang sana, Mr. President. Ngunit, ang naging kinahinatnan ay isang karahasang napakahirap tanggapin. Yesterday morning, at around 7:30 AM during the celebration of the mass at the Dimaporo gymnasium of the Mindanao State University, there was an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion, killing four (4) people, injuring forty-five (45) others. Please allow me to show you the barbaric act they committed inside my alma mater, the Mindanao State University. [Play video and show picture]

The people who attended mass went to witness the lighting of a candle for Christmas. They did not expect that they would be lighting candles for the victims of this tragic event instead.

I am sure that this august Chamber is one with me in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the families left behind, as well as our condemnation for this meaningless, barbaric, and cruel act.

If the word 'unsuspecting' were ever to have an image equivalent, yesterday's incident would have captured it. 21-year old Chris Jurado recalls: "It was really sudden and everyone ran. When I looked behind me, people were lying on the floor. We didn't know what happened because everything happened so fast." Rowena Mae Fernandez, 19 years old, said she did not understand what happened, either, and then she saw others running, which made her run, too. We cannot even begin to imagine the shock and the trauma that our students and teachers are now going through.

Unsuspecting - the students and teachers who gathered at the MSU gym to attend mass. Unsuspecting - their respective bereaved loved ones and families, who knew only that they were on their way to mass. Unsuspecting - the rest of the region, who, just hours before, was jolted by a series of strong earthquakes associated with the Philippine Trench.

Kung sa bisaya pa, Mr. President, kinsa gud