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02/22/2021 Philippines (International Christian Concern) – A few Catholic chapels in the Philippines’ Muslim-majority Basilan province were recently vandalized, just as local parishioners were about to commemorate a religious ceremony marking the start of the Lenten season.

According to CNN Philippines, three chapels in Lamitan City suffered different damages from the vandalism: the image of San Isidro Labrador, to whose honor a chapel in the village of Sta. Clara was dedicated, was found knocked over and its head removed. Another image of the Virgin Mary was thrown on the pathway.

Religious icons were also removed from displays in a chapel in Barangay Kulaybato. More statues, including a crucifix, were also discovered scattered on the road outside a chapel in Maganda, another village in Lamitan.

The parishioners noticed the destructions as they were getting ready for Ash Wednesday.

Basilan Governor Jim Salliman condemned these acts as “atrocious” and “discriminatory.” He also called on the authorities to act swiftly and resolve the cases, amid concerns this could “be exploited by groups and individuals whose sinister motive is to undermine the harmonious relationship that we Muslims and Christians are enjoying.”

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