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Novena for hostage-priest

Teresito Suganob - May 2017 - from video

Fr. Teresito Suganob makes an appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to stop military operations in Marawi. (Photo from a video circulating on Facebook)

NORALA, South Cotabato – Relatives of Marawi City’s vicar general, Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob, who was among more than 200 the people being held captive by Islamist terrorists in Marawi City, have started a novena for his safe release.

Manilyn Suganob, the priest’s sister, said the family had not lost hope that with God’s help, he would eventually be freed.

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“We are happy to see the video of Father Chito while fighting was [going on],” Manilyn said. “[We saw] that he was alive, and we continue to pray that one day he will be with us,” she said.

Suganob was taken on the night of May 23, along with several other Church workers, by gunmen from the Maute terror group who barged into the Cathedral of Maria Auxiliadora while they were praying.

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On Tuesday, the priest was seen in a video released by the terrorists asking President Duterte to call off military airstrikes against them and order the withdrawal of soldiers from the city.

“We still want to live for another day, we want to live another month, we want to live three years—more. Please consider us, Mr. President,” Suganob said in the video.

Another relative, Rufino Larroza, chair of Maite Grande village in Lambunao, Iloilo province, said he would understand if the government did not heed the priest’s appeal.

“Actually, declaring a ceasefire when government forces are winning is tantamount to surrender,” said Larroza, a former soldier who was once assigned to Marawi.

Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña said he was worried that the terrorists had started using Suganob to ease the military pressure on them.

“I presume they (terrorists) are now running out of space in the city,” Dela Peña told the Inquirer.

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TAGS: Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob, Islamic State, Marawi siege, Martial law, Maute group, Philippine news updates, Terrorism
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