A parish priest snatched by militants who stormed Marawi City last month was seen alive over the weekend, a military official said Monday.
Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesperson of the Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson, said a civilian rescued from the war zone reported seeing Fr. Chito Suganob together with other hostages.
"Buhay pa rin po si Fr. Chito Suganob. Ito po ay revelation ng isa nating na-rescue. Two days ago po, nakita siyang buhay at kasama po sa mga hostages," Herrera said in a phone interview with radio DZMM.
Terrorists abducted Suganob and several parishioners from the St. Mary's Cathedral on May 24, a day after launching attacks against government troops who were chasing ISIS-inspired Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
The priest was last seen in a video asking the government to stop its offensives in Marawi City. The military, however, said the video was merely propaganda by terrorists.
Authorities have rescued over 1,700 civilians from the war zone. But the rebels, holed up in 4 Marawi villages, still hold some 100 to 200 captives, said Herrera.
Five hostages, including a child, were rescued Sunday amid an 8-hour ceasefire declared by the military in respect of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The battle for Marawi, which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place all of Mindanao under martial law, has left dead over 300 extremists, 69 state troops and 27 civilians, said Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.