Kidnapped priest made video message 'under duress,' says bishop
MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Though he was happy to see his right-hand man alive, Bishop Edwin dela Peña is worried about Father Teresito Soganub because the kidnapped priest was obviously "under duress" when he appeared in a propaganda video released on Tuesday, May 30.
Soganub, the vicar general of the Marawi bishop, was taken by the Maute Group when the clashes started on May 23. Nothing was heard of him until exactly a week later when the video message was released.
"We feel happy for him that he's still there but at the same time sad because this is the most critical period sa (in the) Marawi siege," Dela Peña told Rappler in a phone interview on Wednesday, May 31.
Soganub appeared in a propaganda video where he seemed to support the demands of the Maute local terror group.
Soganub said in the video: "Mr President, we are in the midst of this war. We are asking your help to please give what your enemies are asking for. They simply are not asking for anything – just to withdraw your forces away from Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, and to stop the air strikes, your air attacks, and to stop the cannons."
A message to netizens
Dela Peña is concerned about netizens' reactions to the video. He said they should know that Soganub said things he would not have said if he were a free man.
"You know what, when you are a captive, you are not free to speak your mind. I hope the netizens would consider that, that he is under duress and he is forced to say things he normally would not say," Dela Peña said.
The bishop said Soganub would never support giving the Maute Group its own territory.
The propaganda video was released as the local terrorist group was pinned down in at least 3 villages in Marawi.
"It only shows that the Maute are pushed against the wall. Now they are using the hostages. They are demanding things like that. They know they have bargaining chips – the hostages – and it's very difficult. I cannot imagine what will happen if they continue the air strikes and all that. Definitely they would be considered all collateral damage," said Dela Peña.
The bishop lamented that no one from the military as well as the local government had contacted the Church to discuss the situation of Soganub.
"They haven't come to me [or] notified me about what is happening now. No updates," Dela Peña said.
Air strikes continued Wednesday morning. – Rappler.com