The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is coordinating with Muslim leaders to help with the release of Catholic hostages, including a priest, held by the Maute group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
Fr. Chito Suganob and church-goers were hostaged by the Maute group that attacked Marawi City last Tuesday.
Over Catholic-run Radio Veritas, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato appealed to the terrorist group not to harm the hostages, and called upon Muslim leaders for help.
“I pray for the safety of all the hostages. I appeal to the consciences of the hostage takers not to harm the innocent as the Islamic faith teaches. I appeal to religious leaders of Islam to influence the hostage-takers to release the hostages unharmed,” Quevedo said.
“For God’s will is the safety of innocent people. May the loving God protect the people of Marawi,” he added. Suganob is a vicar general of the Territorial Prelature of Marawi, which has a small Catholic population.
Last week, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, confirmed the capture of the hostages after the Maute group entered the Cathedral of Saint Mary.
“They have threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces unleashed against them are not recalled,” Villegas said in a statement.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, CBCP Public Affairs Office chief, said in a television interview they had yet to confirm the exact number of hostages taken.
Secillano in a statement also appealed to the terror group not to harm Suganob and the other hostages. “Terror doesn’t have a place in any religion. We call on our Muslim brothers and our government to work for the safe release of hostages. We request all Filipinos to pray for a peaceful resolution to this conflict and for the safety of all hostages,” he said.