DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Authorities on Monday said they have no idea as to the whereabouts of hostage priest Fr. Chito Suganob, as the battle in Marawi enters its 70th day.
The army’s Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay told reporters at a press conference in Marawi on Monday that they could no longer determine the fate of Fr. Suganob and the other hostages.
Fr. Suganob was forcibly taken by the Maute Group during the siege of Marawi last May 23 this year.
The last time he was seen alive was sometime in June in a video footage asking President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the air attacks and ground operations in Marawi.
The video was believed released by the Maute group.
Last month, the Task Force Marawi also confirmed that the priest was still alive based on the information provided by trapped civilians who managed to escape from the war-torn areas of the city.
“No confirmation as to his (Fr. Suganob’s) whereabouts,” Petinglay said.
She added that around 50 to 80 hostages are still in the hands of the Maute Group who are presently confined in two barangays in Marawi.
According to their estimates, another 180 to 200 civilians are still trapped inside the city, especially in areas where fighting is still intense.
Government troopers also recovered from the control of Maute group last week the Mapandi Bridge, one of the strategic entry points to Marawi.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Jr. told reporters on Monday that the bridge is a strategic route for the supply of materials, equipment and other needs of ground troopers.
Meanwhile, the death toll of government troopers after 70 days of fighting in Marawi is now 114 while the number of civilians killed by Maute group now stands at 45.
A total of 491 Maute members are already killed with 584 of their firearms recovered by authorities, the TF Marawi said.
Civilians rescued by troopers, the local government unit and volunteer groups now accounted to 1,724. (davaotoday.com)