PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has yet to meet Catholic priest Teresito "Chito" Soganub who was rescued in mid-September after being held captive by Maute group since the crisis in Marawi City erupted on May 23, a Malacañang official said Monday.
"I'm sure in time, they (Duterte and Soganub) will meet. I don't know when exactly but I'm sure in time, they will meet," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told a press conference.
Soganub, vicar-general of the prelate of St. Mary Church in Marawi, was rescued near Bato Mosque in Marawi City through a "special operation."
Soganub was presented before the media at Camp Karingal Quezon City on September 18 following his successful and safe rescue. The priest, however, is yet to meet the President.
Abella said Soganub, four months after the incident, led a thanksgiving mass at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on September 24 to rejoice a "great celebration of life" for him.
"[The mass] was a great celebration of life for Father Chito whose personal safety was placed in danger because of the gun battles happening in Marawi City. According to him, the mass is also a thanksgiving for the lives of those who were rescued. To date, a total of 1,730 people have been rescued by government forces," Abella said.
"Father Chito is also praying that he will be able to hear mass again at the St. Mary's Cathedral in Marawi City once the firefight is over and the area [is] cleared," he added.
The Commander-in-Chief placed Mindanao under military rule after Maute militants laid siege to Marawi City.
Security forces are still engaged in a firefight with roughly 80 extremists still holed up in the southern city.
Marawi crisis has claimed the lives of 695 Islamist gunmen, 151 state troops, and 47 civilians since the armed conflict emerged on May 23. (SunStar Philippines)