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Marawi priest Chito Suganob rescued from Maute captors

Father Teresito Suganob and his parishioners were grabbed by Maute militants from St. Mary's Cathedral in Marawi City on May 23, 2017. File
MANILA, Philippines — Catholic priest Teresito “Chito” Suganob escaped Saturday night from his Maute captors after soldiers reclaimed the mosque where they held him captive since May 23.
 
The iconic Masjid Bato Ali in Marawi City was reported cleared from Maute occupation by 9 p.m. Saturday. Text messages began circulating an hour later in central Mindanao purporting that the priest was found by soldiers after heavy gunfight inside the mosque.
 
 
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said on Sunday that lawyer Franklin Quijano, a newly appointed staff of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, relayed to him via text message that soldiers immediately took Suganob to a safe area far from the worship site.
 
Quijano is based in Iligan City, less than an hour away via overland travel from Marawi City.
 
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. of the Western Mindanao Command declined to confirm the rescue of Suganob despite assertions by local officials that the priest is now in the custody of authorities.
 
Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao told The STAR Sunday that they also received reports stating that Suganob was rescued late Saturday.
 
“But we don’t have official confirmation yet from the Task Force Marawi and the Wesmincom,” said Adiong, spokesman of the Lanao del Sur provincial crisis management committee.
 
The committee is helping the police and military restore normalcy in Marawi City, capital of Lanao del Sur, which has 39 towns.
 
Also rescued along with Suganob was Lordvin Ocopio, a teacher in the Dansalan College in Marawi City.
 
 
The school was burned down by Maute terrorists on May 23 as they laid siege to strategic areas there, sparking hostilities that have since dragged on.
 
The Bato Ali Mosque is the third worship site in Marawi City that combined police and military contingents have reclaimed from Maute gunmen since early September.
 
The police said Maute terrorists raped many of the women they held inside the mosques as shields to prevent military forces from closing in.
 
Suganob and more than a dozen worshippers were abducted while inside a Catholic cathedral in Marawi City, which terrorists vandalized before moving out with their captives.
 
Adiong said government forces have also regained control of two other historical Islamic learning centers in Marawi City on Saturday. These were the Jamiatul Al-Islamia and the Mindanao Al-Islamic Foundation.
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