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  • » 09/18/2017, 14.37

    PHILIPPINES

    Marawi: Fr. Chito, free after 4 months

    Santosh Digal

    The Filipino army intervened near the mosque of the terrorists stronghold of Bato. Joy for his release. The conflict is about to end, but the city is destroyed. Plans for reconstruction. Mindanao bishops condemn terrorism.

    Manila (AsiaNews) - Fr Teresito "Chito" Suganob, held in hostage by the pro-Isis Maute terrorist group, was released by the Philippine army on the night of September 16th, according to government sources.

    The presidential peace councilor, Jesus Dureza, reports that the priest had been captured on May 23, at the outbreak of the crisis in the town of Marawi, provincial capital of Lanao del Sur, in the south of the Philippines. Fr. Chito was freed by the military from the mosque of Bato, one of the Maute strongholds. Together with him, a second hostage was released by the authorities, but they did not want to reveal the name.

    Fr Chito, Vicar General of the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians, was kidnapped along with other parishioners.

    The rescue took place during the recovery of the mosque of Bato and the Amaitul Islamiya Marawi Foundation (Jimf) by members of the Marawi joint task force. Colonel Edgard Arevalo, head of the Philippine Armed Forces public affairs office, said: "It took five hours of fierce clashes before government forces defeated terrorists strategically positioned around the Jimf Mosque."

    On May 30, a video appeared in social media showing Fr. Chito asking President Rodrigo Duterte to save him and the other hostages. In the film, he claimed to be detained as a prisoner of war along with other Church employees, a professor at Mindanao State University, some teachers at Dansalan Collage Foundation Inc., carpenters, housewives, children, Christian settlers, and tribe members . The military are still verifying the authenticity of that video.

    At 7 am on September 14, the toll of people killed in the conflict was 670 Armed Mautes, 47 civilians and 147 government officials. Violence has also forced thousands of people to flee and destroyed large areas of the once lively city.

    With the conflict seemingly coming to an end and the troops engaged in clearing operations, government officials report that it is presumed that Marawi's reconstruction will require billions of Philippine pesos. President Duterte has said that the first $ 50 billion fund [about 820 thousand euros] will not be enough to rebuild the city, after a four-month battle between government troops and terrorists.

    Three battalions of military engineers are clearing some portions of the battlefield. Violent fighting left the buildings ruined, with walls filled with bullet holes.

     

    Government authorities could take two weeks from now to accurately determine what is needed to rehabilitate Marawi.

    Foreign aid is likely to be used for reconstruction. On September 15, Australia promised a billion pesos, the United States 730 million, Thailand 100 million, China 85 million (of which 70 to be used for the treatment of soldiers injured in action and 15 for the reconstruction of Marawi ), and the European Union 49 million.

    On May 23, following the clashes between the army and terrorist groups, Duterte had declared martial law across the island of Mindanao.

    Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamiz expressed joy for the release of Fr. Chito.  He said, asserting that it is "the result of our confidence in prayer". He added, "Many prayed for his freedom. So many masses were celebrated with this intention. The power of prayer is once again shown as a testimony to our solid faith in God. "

    In May, the Catholic bishops of Mindanao had appealed for the release of the priest and parishioners who had been caught by the Mautes, urging people to pray for his release and for the victims of the conflict. They also condemned the terrorist attacks, pointing out that terrorism "distorts and falsifies the true meaning of religion".

    For Msgr. Orlando Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato, terrorism "destroys harmony among people of different religions" and "creates a world of suspicion and prejudice, hatred and hostility." "We condemn terrorism in its most varied ways in the most absolute way. It is an ideology that is totally contrary to all principles of any religion of peace. Especially when terrorism is perpetrated while our Muslim brothers and sisters prepare for the sacred month of Ramadan."

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    See also

    31/05/2017 18:59:00 PHILIPPINES
    MILF and Manila agree to a humanitarian corridor for Marawi

    The armed group, after talks with the government, will send its fighters to help dislodge Maute terrorists. The agreement could be a turning point to end the crisis. Government forces control 70 per cent of the city. The priest seized on 23 May appears in a video.



    18/10/2017 09:52:00 PHILIPPINES
    Marawi liberated after five months of clashes

    The Islamist occupation lasted 148 days. More than 1,000 people killed, mostly rebels. Marawi's operations cost 5 billion pesos (about 95 million euros). Fears of terrorist infiltrations in Mindanao Island.



    05/06/2017 19:08:00 PHILIPPINES
    MILF calls on Maute to free Fr Chito, says Allah will reward them

    The priest has been held by terrorists since 23 May with another 240 civilians. “In the time of prophet Muhammad, He respected so much religious leaders and non-combatants,” says MILF leader Ghadzali Jaafar. The latter is helping the Filipino government to set up a humanitarian corridor. So far, 250 people have been rescued. The New People's Army has joined the fight against jihadists.



    23/10/2017 09:40:00 PHILIPPINES
    Marawi, Manila declares the end of battle with jihadists

    Military operations ended in the night. The soldiers tried to convince the guerrillas to surrender, without success. About 40 corpses found in two buildings and a mosque near Lake Lanao, possible mass suicide. The fighting resulted in the deaths of at least 1,131 people, including 919 militants and 165 of soldiers and policemen. 1,780 hostages released.



    30/05/2017 12:51:00 PHILIPPINES
    Filipino Church’s appeal for Marawi's displaced persons

    More than 60,000 residents have been evacuated. Caritas Philippines sent a letter to 85 dioceses. Some US$ 6,000 are provided for the efforts in the Diocese of Iligan. Caritas Manila provides US$ 10,000 and 100 bags of rice. Mindanao dioceses supports Marawi Prelature in helping families. The clashes between government forces and jihadists continue. Ilang is cordoned off due to fear of Islamist infiltrations. Nothing is known about Fr Chito, who was abducted by jihadists with another 15 people.





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