By Francis Wakefield and Samuel Medenilla
Catholic priest Father Teresito “Chito” Suganob, vicar general of Marawi City, and another hostage taken by the Maute Group have been rescued by government troops in the middle of a fierce gun battle with the Islamic State-influenced fighters on Saturday.
Although the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has not put out a statement confirming the priest’s rescue as of press time yesterday afternoon, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Bishop of Iligan already lauded the safe rescue Fr. Suganob.
Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said he cannot provide any details on the rescue because it would jeopardize the lives of the soldiers and other hostages in the Main Battle Area.
“We have ongoing rescue operations at the Main Battle Area. (But) we cannot give you details as of now lest we imperil the lives not only of our soldiers but more so that of the hostages,” Arevalo said.
“We urge you to wait for the Official Statement on the matter to be issued by higher authorities,” he added.
Iligan Bishop Elenito Galido already released a statement to media, lauding the government for the safe rescue of Fr. Suganob.
Suganob together with Lordvin Ocopio, a teacher of the Dansalan College, were reported to have escaped the Maute group on Saturday, when their captors were engaged in a firefight with military forces in Marawi City.
Suganob was among the 20 people abducted by Maute group at the St. Mary’s Cathedral on May 23, 2017.
“We are thankful for our soldier for rescuing Fr, Chito and a teacher of Dansalan…This is answered prayer. We have been praying for this continuously. Now that they are free, thanks be to God,” Galido said.
Galido said they are still waiting for more information on the current status of Suganob.
“We have not seen him yet and don’t know where he is for now and if he will be brought to Marawi or Manila,” Galido said.
He said they will inform the Bishops of Mindanao about the “good news” once they return from their trip abroad.
Meanwhile, OPAPP Secretary Jesus “Jess” Dureza announced in his Facebook account that based on information provided by Franklin M. Quijano, Father Suganob together with another hostage was rescued by troops near Bato Mosque at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
However, Dureza said no other information has been provided regarding the rescue.
“To those who would wish to get more details, please wait for the official announcement coming from the AFP and or the Palace in order not to jeopardize the ongoing military operations,” Dureza said.
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