Binalbagan Church desecrated, six religious statues destroyed

The damaged  religious images.* San Isidro Parish Binalbagan Facebook page photos  

A 39-year-old man drove his tricycle into the San Isidro Labrador Catholic Church in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, and ran to the altar where he toppled and broke six religious statues in the middle of a mass at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 3. 

The suspect Rolly Semira, 39, of Barangay San Teodoro, Binalbagan, is currently detained, PLt. Glen Portunes, Binalbagan deputy police chief, said. 

The police filed complaints for malicious mischief, alarm and scandal and interruption of religious worship against the suspect before the prosecutor’s office, Portunes said, adding that the damage to the religious images was placed at P300,000. 

Kabankalan Bishop Louie Galbines said at around 6:30 a.m.  Wednesday the parish church of San Isidro Labrador was desecrated while a mass was going on.

The images of St. Joseph, San Isidro Labrador – the parish patron, Immaculate Conception, two angels and the Crucifix were damaged and destroyed, he said.

The Tabernacle was also disfigured. 

“This untoward incident created a very painful impact on the faith and emotions of all Catholics in Binalbagan,” he said.

The suspect is already in police custody and will be made to answer to the crime and damages he created, Galbines said. 

“Witnessing desecration of the sanctuary and utter disrespect to the revered images generated so much pain and suffering to the people of the parish,” he said.  

While the restoration of the broken images is urgent, the reparation of the internal injury and pain is even paramount, the bishop said. 

“The church will remain closed for a period of time to allow repair of the images to take place and this time will also be utilized for all of us to do penitential acts in order to effect complete healing to our very hearts and minds, to our faith itself wounded by this unwarranted act”, Galbines said.

Galbines enjoined everyone to refrain from causing more pain to anyone.  

The family of the suspect said he had not been sleeping and appeared to be suffering from a nervous breakdown. 

The suspect said his religion is Islam and God told him to   destroy all religious statues, “anting-antings and agimats (amulets)”. 

Fr. Randy Bayog, Binalbagan parish priest, said Fr. Leopoldo Cahilig was officiating the mass when Semira drove his tricycle down the middle aisle of the Church until it hit a pew and fell on its side. 

Semira then jumped out of the tricycle and rushed to the altar where he swiftly toppled the religious statues before a shocked congregation of about 80, Bayog said. 

Two funeral masses for five persons were held on Wednesday afternoon after which the desecrated Church was closed. 

The Catholic community will undertake acts of penance and reparation for the desecration that took place before the Church is reopened. 

Meanwhile, masses will be held at the parish hall, Bayog said. 

Bayog said relatives of Semira apologized for his actions and said he had not been acting normal for a couple of days.

He allegedly had not been sleeping and was fasting for Ramadan.  

“We entrust the person concerned to the mercy and compassion of God,” Bayog said.  

He also called for prayers for the immediate restoration of the sanctuary and complete spiritual and emotional healing of everyone.  

Imam Akhir Saripada said they do not tolerate the actions of Semira . The Muslims in Binalbagan asked for forgiveness for what happened, Saripada said. 

Cahilig said there was no need for the apology since Semira had acted on his own. 


Binalbagan Mayor Alejandro Mirasol said he was saddened by what happened. 

“I guarantee the Church, our priests and personnel and the church goers the safety and sanity and that something like this will not happen again. I condemn his actions and will make sure that this will be avoided,” he said. 

Mirasol also assured that the Binalbagan local government will support the renovations that are needed. 

“Our sacred statues may be broken but our faith is not,” Mirasol said.* 

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