The Daily Manila Shimbun


Catholic priest alive, military spokesman says

August 13, 2017

MARAWI CITY — A Roman Catholic priest held hostage by Islamic State-linked militants for nearly three months now is alive inside the war zone of Islamic City of Marawi, a military official said Sunday.

Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of Western Mindanao Command, said four hostages who escaped from the main battle area on August 4 saw Fr. Chito Suganob, vicar general of Marawi City with 40  hostages inside the mosque.

Petinglay refused to identify the four hostages who swim more than 1000 meters across Lake Lanao to reach the nearest Army detachment.

But she said, based on the four hostages’ accounts, Suganob is tasked to separate the powder of a  firecracker for homemade bombs against government troops.

“The  priest is alive. He is just assisting. Somebody from the militants, not him, is making the homemade bomb,” Petinglay said.

“They are hiding at the mosque which is very difficult for our troops to move forward because we value the lives of these hostages,” she added.

Suganob and some hostages were seized in a cathedral as gunmen from the Maute terror group laid siege to the capital of Lanao del Sur province on May 23.

Suganob is held with a female professor from Mindanao State University, two female church workers, two male and five female teachers from Dansalan Foundation College and “about 200 carpenters, domestic workers, children and youth, ordinary Christian settlers and other Subanen tribes.

Earlier, the Maute Group said they will swap their hostages, including Suganob, for their parents who were separately arrested by authorities. The government rejected their offer.

Petinglay said fighting continued between soldiers and members of Maute and Abu Sayyaf in one square kilometer area in this city with more than 700 people dead since May 23.

Last Friday, the military said 552 militants, 128 government troops and 45 civilians have been in the fighting. DMS