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MINDANAO Cardinal Orlando Quevedo on Tuesday decried the “abhorrent desecration” of the Catholic chapel in Shariff Aguak, calling the crime provocative and gravely disrespectful to Catholic beliefs.

The Cotabato archbishop condemned the intentional burning of the statues of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Mother and San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of Labulabo.

“Jesus is a great prophet in Islamic belief [and] Savior in Christian doctrine. The holy Qur’an holds Mary as the most unique of all mothers. The destruction of their statues is gravely disrespectful of Catholic beliefs,” the prelate said in his “Statement on the Vandalism of Labulabo Catholic Chapel.”

Provincial police chief Agustin Tello said the religious icons were placed at the altar table and burned, the fourth religious attack in the archdiocese since November 2016.

Catholics are a minority in the predominantly Muslim Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

Cardinal Quevedo said the crime might have been an attempt to destroy the “harmonious” relationship between Muslims and Christians.

“Has the [Islamic State] ideology of destructive religious hatred and intolerance penetrated once peaceful rural areas? Is this crime trying to revive the old ‘Blackshirt-Ilaga’ religious war?” he asked.

The Blackshirt-Ilaga war stemmed from the bloody confrontation between Christians and Muslims over land issues.

The 1971 Manili massacre, which killed 70 to 80 Moros, has been attributed to the armed Christian militia called Ilaga.

It caused the Moros to migrate to Lanao del Norte where some formed another armed group called Blackshirt. Both armed groups clashed in Lanao del Norte in 1971, killing hundreds.

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