Abducted Filipino priest pleads for help in video
In a video, a Catholic priest abducted by armed terrorists in southern Philippines, has appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to end every offensive against the abductors in order to free those kidnapped. Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob, the vicar general of Marawi Prelature, who was abducted on 24 May by the Maute group that owes allegiance to Islamic State terrorist group, was seen in a Facebook video on 30 May saying the militants are demanding a stop to the military offensive against them for the sake of the “prisoners of war”, according to CBCPNews of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Maute wants withdrawal of armed forces and an end to airstrikes
‘Mr. President, …. from our heart, please consider us,” Fr. Suganob in mufti and a flowing white beard appealed in English. “They don’t ask for anything, they just ask that you leave this place peacefully.” “We are in the midst of this war we are asking your help to please give what they are asking for,” he said, adding the abductors are demanding withdrawal of armed forces and an end to air strikes. The vicar general of the Marawi said altogether they are about 240 “prisoners of war”, including men, women, children and youth.
Abduction after failed raid to capture terrorist leader
Fr. Suganob and more than a dozen others were abducted from the Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians of Marawi, which was set on fire. The United Church of Christ in the Philippines also reported that the main building, science laboratories, and library of Dansalan College, a Protestant school, were also set on fire. The kidnapping was in reaction to a botched raid to capture militant leader Isnilon Hapilon who is believed to be still in Marawi. Following the abduction, President Rodrigo Duterte went on the offensive, declaring martial law in the southern third of the nation.
The video which could not be independently verified, shows the priest standing in a street amidst partially destroyed buildings, with occasional gunshots. The video, first surfaced on the Facebook account of a certain “Datumasa Khalid”, but is now reported to be on YouTube. Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the video seems authentic, but Fr. Suganob appeared to be speaking under duress and militants are apparently using the video for propaganda.
Fr. Suganob warned that the relentless military offensive will just put the lives of the hostages at risk because the militants are “ready to die for their religion”. ``We want to live another day, we want to live another month,'' the priest said. `We want to live few years and in your generosity, Mr. president, in your heart, we know you can make something.''
Hostages as human shields
Bishop Edwin de la Pena of Marawi Prelature who said it was Fr. Suganob in the video, had earlier said he received a call from a supposed Maute militant demanding a “unilateral ceasefire” by the military, failing which they would “kill the hostages.” He said the hostages were being used as human shields.