From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 25): Release hostages, Cotabato prelate appeals to Maute (11:57 AM)
Police officers check evacuees from Marawi at a checkpoint by the entrance of Iligan City in of Mindanao on May 24, 2017. President Rodrigo Duterte warned that martial law would be “harsh” and like a dictatorship, after imposing military rule in the south to combat Islamist militants. AFP
Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo appealed to the conscience of the Maute group to release the Catholic priest and staff of a church in Marawi city they abducted as hostages.
In a Radyo Veritas report, Quevedo called on the Maute group to release the priest and church goers who were taken hostage by the Maute group after the latter sieged Marawi city.
READ: Priest among 14 hostages taken in siege of Marawi
Father Chito Suganob and others were in the Cathedral of St. Mary’s when the Maute group held them hostage. A separate report from the ARMM Heart (Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team) said the five hostages were Father Suganob, Prof. Maria Luisa Colina and three others identified only as Sam, Wendell and Wilbert.
READ: Maute group holds priest, 4 others as hostages—ARMM exec
The terrorist group had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS). The state of rebellion and lawlessness in Marawi compelled President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the whole Mindanao.
READ: Martial law will be harsh, says Duterte
“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.” Quevedo said.
Quevedo also offered his prayers to the victims of the Maute’s siege in Marawi.
“I pray for the safety of all the hostages. For God’s will is the safety of innocent people. May the loving God protect the people of Marawi,” Quevedo said.
In a message sent to Radyo Veritas, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas urged the public to offer prayers for the Muslims in Marawi city.
READ: Pray for priest, other Maute hostages, CBCP urges public
The CBCP President also expressed alarm that the Maute group hoisted flags of the terrorist group ISIS in the city, and urged the public to pray for their peace-loving Muslim brothers and sisters.
“The CBCP is alarmed by reports that ISIS flags now flutter over Marawi. We are fully aware that most Muslims are peace-loving. Salam is a greeting of peace. We are also aware that ISIS has claimed responsibility for many of the atrocities in territories they have occupied elsewhere in the world,” Villegas said.
“We call on government to deal with the threat without wavering and without compromise. We call on all Catholics to pray with our Muslim brothers and sisters. We call on the occupiers who claim to worship the same God that we all do not to defile His name by bloodshed,” he added.