“The Prelature of St. Mary’s in Marawi welcomes the news that Fr. Teresito ‘Chito’ Soganub, its Vicar General, has been rescued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines at around 11 p.m. last night, September 16, 2017 near Bato (Ali) Mosque in Marawi City together with one other undisclosed companion,” its press statement read.
It said the entire Duyog Marawi team, an accompaniment journey with the people of Marawi by the Prelature in partnership with the Redemptorists, “exploded with shouts of joy” in the midst of its monthly meeting as Fr. Nono Reteracion, CSsR “read the confirmation from several military personnel.”
Initial reports reaching the media said Soganub, also Acting Rector of the St. Mary’s cathedral and chaplain at the Mindanao State University (MSU) main campus here, and another hostage escaped from their captors near the Bato Ali mosque amid heavy firefight and that as the two were fleeing, they were identified by the military who brought them to a safer place.
Persistent media queries prompted Marine Colonel Edgardo Arevalo, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Public Affairs Office to tell Defense reporters in the national capital shortly before 10 a.m. Sunday that they were “still validating that information. As of now, we cannot still give details. The rescue operation is still ongoing,”
Marawi, Day 117
The military announced through a press release late Saturday evening that the troops had taken control of the Bato Mosque and Amaitul Islamiya Marawi Foundation at 5 p.m. These two structures the military said were Maute strongholds But where are the hostages?
In a statement sent to the Defense Press Corps at 11:41 p.m. on Saturday, Arevalo said the military had “fiercely fought five hours” before taking control of Bato Ali mosque and Amaitul Islamiya Marawi Foundation (JIMF) at 5 p.m. The military described these as “two of the Maute-ISIS Group’s strongholds.”
Questions have been raised by the media and the public if Fr. Chito escaped, was rescued by the military, was abandoned or released by the Maute Group, if leaders Abdullah Maute and the Abu Sayyaf’s Isnilon Hapilon, the alleged Southeast Asian Emir of the ISIS, are still in Marawi or have escaped.
A resident who was watching the air strikes on the main battle area in downtown Marawi from the MSU golf course here Sunday noon told MindaNews he hopes the fighting will, indeed be over soon.
But the resident, among the 359,680 persons displaced by the war, according to statistics of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, said they hope they will not be told that Marawi has been liberated but the terrorists escaped.
(Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)