Military focuses on rescuing Marawi hostages
MARAWI CITY, Philippines – The ground commander in Marawi City, Major General Rolando Bautista, said the military has now shifted its focus to rescuing hostages.
"The primary concern of the military right now is the rescue of hostages. Eventually we will see to it that all the hostages will be rescued," Bautista said on Saturday, June 3, in a press conference at the provincial capitol.
Combined forces of the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group abducted several residents when the clashes erupted on May 23. The military said the local terrorist groups have been using them as humam shields.
Among the hostages is Father Teresito "Chito" Suganob, the right hand man of Marawi City Bishop Edwin Dela Peña. He was taken at the bishop's residence on May 23 along with other churchworkers. (WATCH: A prayer for Marawi's hostaged priest)
He recently appeared in a propaganda video claiming there are about 240 hostages. But the military said this information needs to be verified.
Dela Peña believes Suganob was under duress from the Maute Group when he spoke before a camera supporting the local terrorist groups' bid to have control over territory. Guns were fired, too, when Suganob appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to save them.
Bautista did not give a timeline for ending the Marawi crisis.
"When we talk of the ending of this conflict, we cannot give any exact date and time but we assure you that we will finish this to the soonest," he said. – Rappler.com