Rescued Marawi priest asks Filipinos to pray for his recovery
Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub is asking Filipinos to pray for his healing and recovery as he was presented before the media in Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.
“Thank you so much, I'll pray for you. God bless you all and pray for me also for my healing and recovery. Thank you very much and God bless you all," said Soganub, who had a long white beard, as was briefly presented by the military to the media.
Soganub, held by the Maute terrorist group inside the battle zone in Marawi City for 118 days, wore a blue jacket and denim pants.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Ano said, according to Soganob, he was not maltreated by the terrorists during his captivity.
“He (Soganub) said in the days while he was in captivity they were feeding him properly and he was not harmed by the Maute-ISIS who were holding them. But for other hostages, he did not know,” he said.
“So the pressure that he mentions is when there were firefights. They were instructed to hold firearms and sometimes they were being asked to pose like Maute-ISIS. That is why we are very careful,” he added.
Ano added that the terrorist group also used Soganub and other hostages as human shields.
“Actually they used Father ( Soganub) as assurance to get out alive, human shield and at the same time for bargaining. That’s how they use the hostages,” he said.
Ano revealed that the rescue of Soganub last Saturday night was the second attempt after they failed to get him last September 13.
“The rescue of Fr. Soganub is a very deliberate effort. It’s an intelligence project supported by combat operations. Although we cannot give you the details, as early as Sept. 13, that was our first attempt to rescue Fr. Soganub,” he said.
“On the night of Sept 13, Sept 14 early Sept 15 the way the enemies guard them has changed. So we failed to rescue Fr. Soganub. So I gave the go-signal to assault the Bato mosque (to) implement the extraction of Fr. Soganob while there is fighting. Everything has materialized because on Saturday we were able to gain the foothold in Bato Mosque and extricate Fr. Soganub on the night of Sept. 16,” he added.
Ano said there were times that Soganub has refused to be rescued as he prepared himself to die in the area.
“The group of Omar Maute is the one who have holding him. They are the ones who were deployed in Bato mosque before we assaulted the mosque last Saturday. That is when we experienced difficulties in rescuing him,” he said.
“That is why this time last Saturday he was not aware that will be extricated, when he was rescued,” he added.
Ano said the military are still trying to rescue the other hostages at the mosque.
“The Bato mosque has a lot of intricate tunnels and secret chambers so we are actually clearing those chambers and there are hostages who are still there. The reason we don’t immediately disclosed the rescue of Father because of the effort to be able to rescue the remaining hostages. So we still continue our (rescue operation) there,” he said.
“There in Bato mosque there are about 12 hostages in Bato Mosque and according to our intelligence sources there were 25 other (hostages) with Father. But he (Soganub) only sees about 12, so our effort to rescue (other hostages) are still there and on the other building, there are other hostages. We will still try to do our best to rescue them alive,” he added.
Ano said based on their latest report the terrorist group are still holding 40 to 50 hostages in Marawi City. Robina Asido/DMS