MANILA - Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo appealed for help after the abduction of a Catholic priest following clashes between the Maute Group and forces of the government in Marawi City.
In an interview with the Church-run Radio Veritas, the country's first cardinal from Mindanao expressed hope that Muslim religious leaders would be able to persuade the abductors to release their hostages.
"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," the prelate said.
"For God’s will is the safety of innocent people. May the loving God protect the people of Marawi."
According to Bishop Edwin dela Peña of the Prelature of Marawi, terrorists broke into the house of Fr. Chito Suganob inside the Cathedral's compound. He said the men took with them the priest, the parish secretary, two working students, and at least 10 other parishioners.
CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas slammed the hostage taking, saying the captives were unarmed and non-combatants.
On Tuesday, a gunfight between government troops and the Maute Group erupted in Marawi City, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to cut short his trip to Russia and place the entire Mindanao under martial law.
Members of the Maute Group torched Dansalan College, the Marawi City jail, a Catholic church and other structures.