By Priam Nepomuceno

SCENE OF THE CRIME. Government troops oversee the investigation of the bombing of the Mindanao State University gymnasium in Marawi, Lanao del Sur on Sunday (Dec. 3, 2023). Four deaths have been initially confirmed. (Photo courtesy of Lanao del Sur Provincial Government)

MANILA – Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte said the perpetrators of Sunday’s bombing in Marawi, Lanao del Sur may be daring but in reality, they are cowards who could only attack civilians.

Ang mga nasawi at mga sugatan ay mga sibilyan. Nakakabahala na ito ay nangyari sa loob ng MSU compound sa isang Katolikong simbahan — sa isang bahagi ng bansa na may mahaba at madugong karanasan sa terorismo (The dead and the injured are civilians. It is alarming that it happened inside the Mindanao State University compound in a Catholic setting — in that part of the country with a history of terrorism),” she said in a video message.

Isa itong gawaing mapangahas ngunit malinaw rin sa atin na isa itong karuwagan (It is daring but is also clearly a cowardly act).”

She expressed her sympathies to the victims and condemned all who are responsible.

Duterte likewise called for restraint, especially among her fellow Mindanaoans, as authorities work on the case.

Gayunpaman, kailangan rin nating maging maingat at maging mapagmatyag upang mapigilan natin ang mga maaaring susunod pang atake sa mga sibilyan (Nevertheless, we should be cautious and vigilant to be able to prevent another attack on civilians), she said.


Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said he is “angered and appalled by the bombing.”

“It is disheartening to see such violence play out in Marawi once again, years after the siege and well into a period of newfound peace enjoyed by our brothers and sisters under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” the lawmaker from Bukidnon said in a statement.

“No one should have to feel unsafe in places of learning and places of worship.”

Zubiri joined the families of the victims in calling for justice and peace “that we have worked hard to gain in Marawi over the past six years.”

Senator Ronald Dela Rosa said the bombers were neither Christians nor Muslims, who only know peace, love and respect.

“They are terrorists!” he posted on social media.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III and former senator Manny Pacquiao likewise vehemently denounced the bombing.

“The party extends its sincere sympathies to the affected families and the Mindanao State University community, and urges a thorough investigation to give justice to the victims and make sure the perpetrators are identified and punished in accordance with law,” read the joint statement of the PDP-Laban members.

“We stand united against this heinous act that targets innocent civilians, disrupting peace and unity.”

Remember the pain

Duterte recalled the deadly Sept. 2, 2016 bombing at the Roxas Night Market in Davao City while she was a mayor.

Fifteen died while at least 69 sustained injuries.

Alam natin ang takot at sakit na dala ng karumaldumal na gawaing ito. Dapat ay maging matatag tayo sa harap ng mga hamon at patuloy na banta ng terorismo (We know the fear and pain of this dastardly act. Let us be strong amid these terroristic attacks),” she said.

Huwag nating hayaan na magtagumpay ang kasamaan laban sa bayang nagkakaisa para sa kapayapaan (Do not allow evil deeds to prevail against our country that is united in peace).” (PNA)