Soldiers stand guard outside a Catholic Church in Davao City days after a bomb explosion at a night market killed 14 people and wounded 70 others. (Contributed photo)
Several Catholic churches in the Philippines have tightened security after a deadly bomb blast killed 14 people and injured 70 others in Davao City on Sept. 2.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga in the northern Philippines said he has beefed up security measures and reminded all personnel to be "extra mindful for their safety and security of one another."
Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao in the national capital said he has urged parishes to intensify security checks.
"Many of our parishioners are aware of what is happening," said Bishop Ongtioco.
The country's Catholic bishops have already made statements urging people to pray "for courage and change of heart."
"Prayers and decisive action are needed instead of allowing fear and panic to have the upper hand," said Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa.
On Sept. 5, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila recited a prayer over Church-run Radio Veritas to ask God to "embrace those who are longing and wounded."
Church leaders in the southern region of Mindanao said the bomb attack has not deterred people from attending Masses.
“Mass attendance here is OK," said Bishop Martin Jumoad of Isabela in Basilan province, known to be a stronghold lair of terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
Reward for capture of bombers offered
Authorities in Davao have offered a two-million-peso (about US$43,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of those behind the bomb explosion.
"We want [the bombers] alive because we want all the necessary information we can get," said Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte.
On Saturday, the mayor led a memorial service for victims of the explosion. "
"We will not be terrorized by this heinous crime and I call on all [people of Davao] to unite and let us help each other rise from this senseless incident," she said Mayor Duterte.
The faith-based group Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., meanwhile, called on the government "not to be swayed by dilatory tactics of self-interest groups, terrorists and those who refuse to pursue the road of peace."
"This incident has no other ulterior motive but to sow terror on peace-loving innocent Christian settlers, Moro, and tribal people in Mindanao," said Emmanuel Roldan, executive director of the Legal Resource Center for Women and Children.
"Let us not give in to our fear and respond to violence with violence in our hearts," he said.