Captive priest appeals for end to offensive

A VIDEO showing a bearded, white-haired man in the middle of a street filled with debris of broken buildings is making the rounds online.

The man, identified as Catholic priest Fr. Chito Suganob, is being held hostage by the Maute terror group. The video appears to be recorded at the behest of the extremists and showed the priest appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to stop military offensives in Marawi City.

The vicar-general of the prelate of St. Mary Church in Marawi, Suganob, said he was taken, along with over 240 other individuals whom he said are now “prisoners of war.”

Suganob said he is with one female Mindanao State University-Marawi professor, two lady church workers, two male and five female teachers of Dansalan College, and around 200 carpenters, household helpers, children, youth, and ordinary non-Muslim settlers.

Suganob, in black long sleeves, asked Duterte to give in to the demands of the extremists and withdraw government forces from Marawi City and the entire Lanao del Sur.

“From our hearts, please consider us, it's hard, from time to time we hear gunfire from the ground, heavy firearms from your side, it's hard. We do not ask for anything, we just ask that you leave this place peacefully, do not give so much attacks,” he said.

“If you are in our place, maybe you'll consider us,” Suganob added.

Suganob was taken last May 24, when terrorists broke into his house inside the Cathedral's compound and took with them the priest, the parish secretary, two working students, and at least 10 other parishioners.

“We are asking this, we want to live another day, we want to live another month, we want to live years, and in your generosity, we know you can make something. If you want me to kneel before you, in favor of our families who are crying out there, we will do that,” he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Al Herrera, spokesman of the 1st Infantry Division, said in a television interview that the video is part of the propaganda of the Maute terrorists.

He said the military and police are making efforts to rescue the hostages.


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