A Bohol native has been identified as among those killed in the twin blasts inside the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu which left at least 20 people dead and scores of churchgoers and state security forces injured.
Fr. Romeo S. Saniel of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and apostolic administrator of the Vicariate of Jolo in Sulu confirmed that Romulo Reyes and his wife Leah, regular Mass-goers at the ill-fated cathedral, were among those who died in the carnage.
Romulo traced his roots to Maribojoc town, said Atty. Jun Amora who was his classmate at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary (IHMS) in Tagbilaran City.
According Amora, Romulo ran a music studio and managed an FM station in Jolo.
“He was also a sower of peace in a land of conflict. In his little ways he worked for harmony and understanding in that troubled corner. He even composed a moving song advocating a final peace and unity among Muslims and Christians,” said Amora in a tribute to Romulo.
Amora said that Romulo stayed in war-torn Sulu for his “three loves.”
“I asked him why he has chosen to live in ‘dangerous’ Jolo. He answered: he found his three loves there – Leah (with whom he had two wonderful kids – Aubrey and Lloyd Joshua), teaching (at Notre Dame of Jolo) and fulfillment in music,” he added.
For his part, Saniel cited the bravery of the bombing’s victims, particularly mentioning Romulo and Leah, who were his “personal friends.”
“They bravely stayed in Jolo in spite of the threats and insecurities. I believe they have died for their Christian faith. No words can describe the sorrow and pain that we feel these days,” said Saniel in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is eyeing the Ajang-Ajang, a subgroup of local bandit Abu Sayyaf Group, as prime suspect in the Sunday bombing.
The military however is also not discounting the claim made by the Islamic State which indicated that they were behind the attack.
Based on reports from authorities, the first improvised explosive device (IED) detonated at 8:58 a.m. while the Second Reading was being read inside the cathedral which was filled with 100 churchgoers.
The second IED exploded near the cathedral’s entrance a few seconds later when police and military personnel rushed into the church supposedly to assist the victims.