Masses and other liturgical celebrations may be suspended in Manila following an increase in terrorist activity, the Philippines' Bishops' Conference has announced.
On Sunday, November 27, a bomb detonated at the gate of a church in the southern city of Esperanza, injuring two, as churchgoers were leaving Mass for the first Sunday of Advent.
The following day, Philippine police safely detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) found in a rubbish bin metres away from the US Embassy in Manila.
The device was discovered early in the morning by a street sweeper, who then contacted authorities.
Although no one has yet claimed responsibility for the bomb near the embassy, Manila police chief Joel Coronel said that based on initial investigations, the device was similar to an IED that detonated in a crowded marketplace in Davao City in September, killing 14.
The Maute terrorist group, which pledges allegiance to the so-called Islamic State, is accused of perpetrating the September bombing, and authorities suspect the group is also behind the recent bomb threat.
Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the Archbishop of Cotabato, condemned the recent church bombing, telling Minda News that it was “pure terrorism, made worse because of the sacredness of the place, the sacredness of the day, and the sacredness of the event that had just taken place.”
Following the most recent bomb threat, the presidential palace asked for “heightened security measures” in Manila.