PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte welcomed Monday the rescue of Catholic priest Teresito “Chito” Soganub who had been held captive by Islamic State-linked Maute terrorists since the armed conflict erupted in Marawi City on May 23.
In a chance interview in Bagumbong, North Caloocan, the President said Soganub was rescued by security forces through a “special operation” focused on saving the priest.
u201cFr. [Soganub] was not released. He was liberated through a special operation. [The operation was] focused on him because [the hostages] are on separate [places]. Meaning, he was rescued by special forces or rangers,” Duterte said after his visit to the wake of a Caloocan policeman kiled in a drug raid.
Soganub’s rescue was first announced by Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza on September 17.
On a Facebook post, Dureza said he received information that Soganub, vicar-general of the prelate of St. Mary Church in Marawi, was rescued by government troops near Bato Mosque in Marawi City.
Soganub was taken hostage by the Maute fighters when they laid siege to the war-torn city. A video of Suganob surfaced on socila media, seeking Duterte’s help.
The President denied that Soganub was rescued through a back-channel negotiations with the Maute group.
He maintained that there would be no dialogue with the Islamist fighters as his order to the state forces is to go on with the operations "until the last terrorist is taken out."
u201cNo, impossible. Impossible. I will not even agree to look at them. I said – I hope you understand me since then – this will not end until the last terrorist is taken out. That is my order to the armed forces and to the police. [Do not stop] until the last enemy is killed,” he said.
Soganub, who was presented to the media at Camp Karingal, Quezon City, assured the public that he is “physically strong and handsome.”
He also asked the Filipinos to pray for him as he now lives a normal life.
u201cI’ll pray for you. God bless you. Pray for me also for my healing and recovery,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)