MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub was rescued by the military and not released through backdoor negotiations.
“You know si Father Soganub, hindi ito ni-release ha. He was liberated through a special operation. Talagang tinutok ito siya. Because separate-separate sila eh. Ibig sabihin ginapang ‘yan ng mga special forces o ‘yung mga Ranger,” Duterte said during a chance interview following his visit to the wake of a slain policeman in Caloocan City.
He said that it was impossible for the Catholic priest to be released through negotiations with the Islamic State-inspired Maute group, as the government is keen on neutralizing all terrorists in the area.
“I will not even agree to look at them. I said, naintindihan niyo ako noon pa? This will not end until the last terrorist is taken out. And that is my order to the Armed Forces pati to the police. Hanggang ‘yung katapusang tao doon na masama,” Duterte said.
Suganob, the vicar general of Marawi City’s Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians, was among the scores of people taken hostage by pro-IS extremists last May. He and another hostage were rescued by the military last Saturday, September 16.
According to Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., the number of hostages in Marawi City is around 40 to 60 based on the last report of Joint Task Force Marawi.
He said the rescue of all hostages is the primary goal of state forces in all their operations.
“Every life in the area who are supposed to be rescued are important. Even if there is one remaining hostage or one remaining hostage, or two, or three, or what have you, each life is critical and is very important. And the troops have this in their primary consideration during operation,” Padilla said during Monday’s Mindanao Hour briefing in Malacañang. (PNA)