ILIGAN — As government projections for the end of the four-month Marawi siege intensify, a Roman Catholic priest held hostage by the Maute Group was rescued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and allies.
Rev. Teresito Suganob was rescued 16 September 2017 by troops who cleared a mosque that militants had been using as a defensive post. While Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said that the Rev. Suganob was rescued by troops on the ground, Rear Admiral Rene Medina—chief of the naval forces of Western Mindanao—said that the priest escaped with another hostage during the heavy fighting and was picked up by the military and brought into the safe zone afterwards.
Though there is no official count of Maute hostages, the priest was among the dozens of civilians taken captive last 23 May 2017, when the Maute Group began its assault on the predominantly Muslim Marawi City. Last June, the militants posted a video that showed Rev. Suganob—amid the sounds of gunfire—asking President Rodrigo Duterte to cease military air strikes, saying that they endangered the hostages.
Rev. Suganob’s freedom stands alongside the military’s capture of a key Maute Group stronghold. Authorities are confident of the Maute fighters’ retreat, in the face of ground and air assault—assisted by the United States, Australia, fighters from the Middle East and from Southeast Asia. The government is predicting that the close of the city’s siege is at hand.