Fr. Chito rescued, not freed by Maute, military reiterates

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2017 06:40 PM

MANILA - Catholic priest Chito Soganub was rescued through a military operation and was not freed by his terrorist captors in Marawi City, a spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Thursday.

Fr. Chito, who faced the media on Monday after months of captivity by Maute terrorists, also did not escape from the Islamic State-inspire extremists, said Major Gen. Restituto Padilla.

"He was not (released by the Maute group); he was rescued. Despite the many stories that you’ve been hearing, the many narratives that a lot of people close to Fr. Soganub may have heard from him, he was rescued," Padilla told ANC's Headstart.

"It was a deliberate operation, it was intelligence-driven. Not even Fr. Chito knew that he was being rescued. That was how efficient and effective that operation was," he said.

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. 

Padilla said Soganub was among those hostages that Maute members tried to relocate to different facilities as the assault was happening, and there was a "pause" that allowed some hostages "to move from one place to another where our troops were already waiting.

"As the President has said many times, as our ground commanders have reiterated, even Gen. Año, our chief-of-staff, always emphasized and the Secretary always emphasized: there’s no way we will negotiate with these terrorists," he said.