A Catholic priest was abducted together with more than 200 civilians by terrorists linked to the Islamic State (IS) group, appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to consider their plight and stop the military operations.
Father Teresito “Chito” Suganob, vicar general of Marawi City and some hostages were abducted from the Cathedral as the gunmen from the Maute terror group laid siege to the capital of Lanao del Sur province on May 23.
A video circulating in social media posted on the Facebook page of Bisaya News shows Father Chito from the Prelature of St. Mary in Marawi City, appealing to the President as sounds of gunfire are heard in the background.
“Mr. President, we are in the midst of this war. We are asking your help to please give what your enemies are asking for.” Father Chito said on a video clip.
He also stated that the terrorist is not asking for anything. They just want them to leave the place peacefully and do not give so much attack.
“If you have the good heart for us, considering Mr. President the about 240 prisoners of war. We are asking your good heart, please consider. We still want to live for another day, we want to live another month, we want to live three years—more. Please consider us, Mr. President,” he added.
Father Chito said he was taken as a prisoner of war along with church workers, a female professor form Mindanao State University, two female church workers, two male and five male teachers from Dansalan Foundation College and about 200 carpenters, domestic workers, children and youth, ordinary Christian settlers, and other Subanen tribes.
Meanwhile, Bishop Edwin de la Peña of Marawi City who saw the video confirmed that the priest in the video was really Father Chito. De la Peña said that he was more worried now because the terrorists are using father Chito. He aslo stated that it was clear that father Chito was coached on what to say in the video.
Moreover, the spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that the military was aware of the video. He was also confident that the terrorists would not harm the priest because they wanted him to gain concessions.
Also, de la Peña suggested the government to look for other ways to deal with the terrorists that would not endanger the lives of the hostages.
On the other hand, eight terrorists already surrendered to the military in a part of Marawi called Mapandi on Sunday. Marine Brig. Gen. Custodio Parcon said there were fewer than 50 gunmen holed up in Mapandi, which is being cleared by the Marines.
Padilla urged the terrorists to surrender, as smoke billowed out of some buildings, helicopter gunships circled over Marawi, troops cleared terrorists position amid explosions and automatic gunfire, moving house to house and street by street.
According to Gen. Eduardo Año, the military chief of staff, authorities had already cleared 85 percent of the City. However, the rest would still be a challenge since they were dense urban areas with trapped civilians.