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Thursday, May 25, 2017
Marawi siege: Maute militants reportedly holding priest, civilians hostage
OFFICIALS in the Philippines are verifying reports claiming a Catholic priest and several parishioners have been taken captive by members of the Islamic State-linked Maute militant group.
The information came from Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Pena, who claimed to have received a call on Tuesday night from one of the captors who introduced himself as “a member of the ISIS”.
During the call, the militant demanded a unilateral ceasefire in Marawi city, Mindanao, between security forces and the group’s members, or the hostages would be killed, the prelate said.
“They want a ceasefire and for the military to give them access out of Marawi. Otherwise, they will kill the hostages,” De la Pena was quoted saying in CBCP News, the official news website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
He said the call was placed just before 8pm via his secretary’s phone, who is said to be one of the hostages. It is not immediately known how many hostages were taken although an ABS-CBN News report says apart from the priest, at least 13 others were taken.
The Maute group reportedly forced their way into the Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians and abducted Father Chito Suganob, vicar-general of the prelature of Marawi, the parish secretary, two students and 10 other parishioners. They later torched the cathedral.
De la Pena said the Maute militant allowed him to speak to Suganob to make sure he was clear of their demands.
ISIS destroying Marawi City the Muslims area. ISIS and Maute Group aren't Muslims and Islamic Religion #PrayForMarawi #PrayForPhilippines
9:22 PM - 23 May 2017
7:56 PM - 23 May 2017
The mayor also did not confirm reports on the abductions.
ABS-CBN News in its report said local authorities were still in the process of verifying the claims.
Philippine authorities, responding to concerns over the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, insist the move was necessary.
In a statement published by Inquirer, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said, “In order to suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety, it is necessary to declare Martial Law in the entire island of Mindanao including Sulu, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi for a maximum of 60 days.
“The Philippine government is in full control, and fully aware the Maute Group/ISIS groups have the capability (although limited) to disturb the peace. They have shown no hesitation in causing havoc, taking innocent lives and destroying property.”