Marawi bishop can't confirm if Soganub is now Muslim
MANILA, Philippines – Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña said on Tuesday, September 19, that he cannot confirm if his right-hand man, former Maute Group hostage Father Teresito "Chito" Soganub, has converted to Islam.
Soganub, vicar general at the Prelature of Marawi, was rescued by Philippine troops on Saturday, September 16, after 117 days at the hands of the Maute Group, which is linked to the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS)
When asked if Soganub has converted to Islam, Dela Peña said in a news conference on Tuesday, "We don't have any confirmation about that."
Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesman of the provincial crisis management committee, earlier claimed that Soganub was forced to convert to Islam, GMA News reported Monday, September 18.
Dela Peña however said that if one is converted in the context of the war in Marawi City, "you cannot consider that full conversion."
Referring to conversions in general, Dela Peña said: "There is no substance to it if you are under duress. You cannot give your full consent. That is what religion is all about."
"Whatever it is, true or not, it doesn't hold water for me," the bishop added.
Asked if Soganub is still under the care of the Prelature of Marawi, Dela Peña said: "At any moment, we have not abandoned him. We continue to pray for him."
At the press conference scheduled at noon on Tuesday, Dela Peña said he was scheduled to see Soganub for the first time at 3 pm on the same day. "I can just imagine how that meeting will be, for the first time after his release. But that is only something between us," the bishop said.
Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo earlier described Soganub as "very friendly to all the people" in Marawi City – Muslims and Christians alike. Because of his long beard, Soganub is often mistaken for a Muslim as well, according to people close to the former Maute Group hostage. – Rappler.com