MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said Catholic priest Chito Soganub was rescued from his terrorist captors in Marawi City through a special operation and not through backdoor negotiations.
"Hindi ito ni-release. He was liberated through special operation. Talagang tinutok ito siya because separate separate sila eh. Ginapang ‘yan ng special forces,” Duterte told reporters in a chance interview in Caloocan City, where he visited the wake of a policeman killed in an anti-crime operation.
The President denied that Soganub was released through backdoor operations.
"No. Impossible. I will not even agree to look at them," he said, referring to the Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi.
“I said, naintindihan niyo ako noon pa. This will not end until the last terrorist is taken out.”
Soganub, the vicar general of Marawi prelature, was abducted by Maute terrorists along with other civilians in the compound of the Cathedral of St. Mary at the start of the siege on May 23.
The priest and another civilian were rescued over the weekend after government troops recovered the Bato mosque in Marawi City.
No schedule has been set yet for a possible meeting between Duterte and Soganub, but the President said he is interested to ask the priest about the condition of the terrorists’ other hostages.
"Well, I would say that the first question would be, huwag na yung sa giyera: how the women were treated there, kasi lahat ng nakalabas they said, nasa newspaper na they were being repeatedy raped every night,” Duterte said.
"That’s a gross violation of the rights of human beings and an affront of the dignity of women.”
Fighting between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists has been raging for nearly four months in Marawi, leaving at least 869 dead, most of them terrorists, and hundreds of thousands displaced.
The prolonged conflict has left much of the once bustling urban center ravaged, and the government has begun plans for its rehabilitation.