MANILA, Philippines – The Maute terrorist group has reportedly held hostage a priest, a college professor, and at least 3 others following the terror group's attack in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur on Tuesday, May 23.
Bishop Edwin dela Peña of the Prelature of Marawi revealed this on Wednesday, May 24.
"Kinuha nila 'yung aming pari, saka 'yung aming secretary, 'yung dalawang working students, tapos mayroong mga parokyano namin na nagnobena lang kahapon. They were taken hostage, dinala to an undisclosed location. We have not heard anything about them," dela Peña said in an interview with radio dzBB on Wednesday.
(They took our priest, and our secretary, and two working students, and there were parishioners who prayed the nobena yesterday. They were taken hostage, they were brought to an undisclosed location. We have not heard about them.)
He identified some of the hostages as Fr Teresito Soganub, Dela Peña's vicar general; Wendelyn Mayormita, the parish secretary, and professor Maria Luisa "Nicnic" Colina, the parish council president.
Dela Peña said he is not sure how many in total had been taken hostage.
"Wala kaming update kung anong kalagayan nila. Wala kaming makuhang information (We don't have an update on their condition. We don't have information)," he added.
Dela Peña also said that the Maute group "torched" the Mary Help of Christians Cathedral in Marawi and the bishop's house.
But Philippine National Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos said there were no hostage-taking reports as of this posting.
Asked if he has told the police, the military, and other local authorities in Marawi about the hostage-taking, Dela Peña said "alam nila" (they know) and "they're the ones feeding us with some information."
In a separate interview with radio dzMM, dela Peña said the hostage-takers "negotiated for me to make an appeal to the military not to pursue them, to stop their pursuit of the group, and to declare ceasefire."
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, asked Filipinos to pray for Soganub and the other hostages.
"As the government forces ensure that the law is upheld, we beg of them to make the safety of the hostages a primordial consideration," Villegas said in a statement on Wednesday.
Villegas said Soganub was in the performance of his ministry as a priest at the time of his capture.
"He was not a combatant. He was not bearing arms. He was a threat to none. His capture and that of his companions violates every norm of civilized conflict," he added.
Villegas called on the Maute group "that claims to bear arms in the name of a Merciful and Benevolent God…to do the One God true honor by the mercy and benevolence that are two of our God's most exalted attributes."
Meanwhile, Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Patricia Licuanan told Rappler that school officials of Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City are still verifying the hostage-taking involving Colina.
Initial information from the MSU revealed that Colina was in downtown Marawi on Tuesday with the Carmelites to prepare for a church activity. (READ: TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)
"He posted it on Facebook asking us, his friends, and relatives in Marawi City to give them an update if Ma'am Colina is doing fine or what," she added.
Summer said Colina is her co-teacher at MSU.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following the clashes that erupted between the military and the Maute Group. – with a report from Paterno Esmaquel II / Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.