New video shows Islamic militants smashing statues, torching church in Marawi
MANILA— A Catholic bishop firmly condemned the destruction of a cathedral inside the Islamic City of Marawi in southern Philippines.Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña said the destruction of religious symbols revealed the true intent of such attacks.
“We are angered by what happened. Our faith has really been trampled on,” he said.
The prelate said he had seen the video of Islamic militants who have gone a sacrilegious rampage and destroyed the St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Islamic State news agency Amaq released the video on Sunday, as the crisis in Marawi enters its second week.
The video also showed some members of the Maute terror group, which claims affiliation with ISIS, yelling “Allahu Akbar” while smashing religious icons, tearing up images of Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and burning the church.
“That is blasphemy! It’s unacceptable. It’s obvious that their actions are really out of this world. It’s demonic,” de la Peña said.
Prior to the attack, the prelate revealed that they’ve received an information that the bandit group had been planning to “destroy and burn the church”.
“That’s really their plan even before according to the raw intelligence report that we’ve been receiving,” he said.
“But we didn’t take it seriously because for us it was unthinkable that it’s going to happen in Marawi,” the prelate added.
The militants also abducted Fr. Chito Suganob, the vicar general of the Marawi prelature, and some staff of the cathedral and churchgoers.
Last Tuesday, a video circulated online and showing Suganob appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to halt military offensives in Marawi City. CBCPNews
Video: ISIS burns churches on the Philippines in Marawi click below:
The Islamic State-linked Amaq News Agency released a video on June 4 showing militants destroying a church in Marawi, Philippines.
The video shows the jihadists desecrate the church by first smashing statues of Christ and other saints, and then setting the entire building on fire.
The city once populated by 200,000 Filipinos but now mostly abandoned, with about 2 thousand citizens still trapped in the area, has become the scene for the Islamic State to, for the first time ever, challenge territorial control of the Philippine authorities.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said fighters had forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized a priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers.
“They have threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces unleashed against them are not recalled,” Villegas said in a statement.
“[The priest] was not a combatant. He was not bearing arms. He was a threat to none. His capture and that of his companions violates every norm of civilised conflict,” he added.
Days after the Islamic State reportedly kidnapped 15 people from a church (including a priest and nuns) in Marawi, Philippines, the terrorist group released a video showing showing the destruction of a Catholic Church.
The terrorists can be seen smashing statues, tearing a picture of Pope Francis and finally setting the church on fire.
The militants belong to the Maute terror group, which pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015.
The same Islamic State-allied militants in the Philippines took a Catholic priest and a group of church-goers hostage on May 22-23, threatening to kill them if the nation’s military does not cease its current offensive against them. They also burned the Catholic cathedral of Marawi. ISIS has destroyed numerous Catholic Churches in the regions they control.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, denounced the hostage-taking and implored the militants to return the church-goers, who he said were not connected to the conflict between the group and the military.
The country’s Catholic bishops have urged prayers for the captured priest and the other hostages in the area. While the majority of the Philippines is Catholic, they make up only a small percentage of the population in Marawi, a mostly Muslim city of about 200,000 people, located on the island of Mindanao.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been heavily criticized for a brutal crackdown on illegal drugs, has cut short his trip to Russia and placed all of Mindanao island under martial law. The president has sought peace talks with two large Muslim rebel groups in the country’s south but has ordered the military to destroy smaller extremist groups like the Maute.
Efforts to evacuate the city of Marawi have been largely unsuccessful, though thousands have fled since the arrival of ISIS. Approximately 2,000 others remain trapped, caught between the fighting.
MUSLIM SAVES 64 CHRISTIANS FROM BEING BEHEADED BY ISLAMIC MILITANTS
by Rodney Pelletier • ChurchMilitant.com • June 5, 2017
“If they knew that there were Christians in my house, they would all be beheaded and executed”
MARAWI, Philippines (ChurchMilitant.com) – A Muslim man in the Philippines is being hailed as a hero for reportedly hiding 64 Christians in his home while Islamic militants were hunting them.
Noor Lucman, a Muslim who lives in Marawi, the capital city of about 200,000 people on the Philippine island of Mindanao, gave shelter to Christians who were working near his home in the days leading up the militants’ takeover of the majority Muslim city on May 22.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the province the following day and dispatched the military to wrest control away from the fighters, known as the Maute group. They have allegedly aligned themselves with ISIS in the Middle East. The people were blocked from leaving the city except for those being evacuated by the Philippine Army.
Church Militant reported earlier that Fr. Chito Suganob had been kidnapped and held hostage by militants along with over 240 other Christians.
After Lucman had fled the city, he told journalists the Christians “couldn’t leave the city, so I had to take responsibility in protecting them.”
“The following days, other Christian workers took refuge in my house. There were about 64 of them in my hands and I was very determined that nothing happens to them,” adding that militants would only get to them “over [his] dead body.”
“When ISIS came, they recognized me and they showed respect by just leaving when I told them to leave.” He continued, “They didn’t know I was hiding Christians. If they knew that there were Christians in my house, they would all be beheaded and executed.”
Philippine authorities are reporting that so far 30 civilians and 38 military personnel have been killed in the attempt to liberate the city. Over 120 militants have been killed and over 1,200 civilians have been rescued from the area by the military.
Over 120,000 Filipinos have been killed by Islamic violence since the 1970’s
CARDINAL ORLANDO QUEVEDO SLAMS ‘DEMONIC’ TERRORISM: NOTHING CAN JUSTIFY AN IDEOLOGY “THAT ASSERTS THE MORALITY OF KILLING IN THE NAME OF GOD”
BY ROY LAGARDE | MAY 31, 2017
MANILA – For Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, terrorism has no God.
In his strongest statement so far following the terror attack in Marawi City, the cardinal stressed that nothing can justify an ideology “that asserts the morality of killing in the name of God”.
“This is a demonic ideology. The true believers in Islam have condemned this ideology, and this violence of terrorism is creating the greatest of fear and anxiety in Mindanao,” he said.
The cardinal made the statement on Wednesday, May 31, in his homily during the canonical coronation of the Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu’s image in San Mateo, Rizal.
He said hundreds of people have died in Mindanao at the hands of extremists and other criminals such as those involved in the illegal drug trade.
He also lamented how “powerful people” go against the law through corruption “aggravating poverty and underdevelopment”.
“The specter of terrorism, hatred, hostility, of prejudices and biases… this specter of darkness is stalking our beloved land,” said Quevedo, a well-known peace advocate.
“Thousands of poor people are trodden underfoot and forgotten,” he added, as the clash between the government troops and the Maute group in Marawi City entered its 8th day.
Quevedo went further by invoking God and the Blessed Mother “to reign over our minds and hearts today”.
“Let us beg them to bring peace, unity, and integrity to our country. Let them be the queen and the king of our minds and hearts, the king and queen of our families,” he said.
He also called on the faithful to help the thousands of families displaced by the ongoing siege in Marawi, especially the children traumatized by the violence.
“Service is needed in the poor of your own neighbourhood, and Our Lady and her Son, are calling us to help them in any way that we can. The bell that hung in the thorn bush is calling us,” Quevedo said.
Malacañang said the crisis’ death toll has reached 104 as of yesterday with 65 from the militant group and 20 government casualties.
Civilian deaths also remain at 19, including eight workers who were found dead in the outskirts of Marawi. CBCPNews
Kidnapped Filipino priest Fr. Chito Suganob pleads for help in video to President Duterte
.- A week after Islamist militants kidnapped some 240 Catholics in the Philippines, a video has surfaced online showing one of the hostages, Fr. Chito Suganob, calling for the government to halt their military offensive in the city.
Shown wearing a black polo and jeans, Fr. Suganob at the beginning of the 5-minute video lists the other “prisoners of war” taken hostage with him, including several Catholic college students and professors, as well as some 200 others, including women and children.
He speaks directly to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, asking him to withdraw his army from the city and “to stop the airstrikes, and to stop the cannons.”
With a cracked voice, the priest, who is vicar general of the Marawi territorial prelature, asks the president to “please consider us,” saying that “it’s hard” for the hostages to bear, because they can hear gunfire and cannons going off around them.
The militants, he said, “don’t ask for anything…they just ask that you leave this place peacefully.”
Militants of the Maute group stormed the city of Marawi, on the southern Philippines island Mindanao, May 23. The group, formed in 2012, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015.
The militants’ violence began after a failed army and police raid to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a local Islamist leader.
The Maute militants have burned several buildings, including the Catholic cathedral and the bishop’s residence. They are also said to have freed more than 100 inmates from prisons in the city. The fighting has reportedly killed at least 20 people in the city.
The group was blamed for a September 2016 bombing that killed 15 people in southern Davao, the president’s hometown. A military raid on their jungle camp last month reportedly found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms, and passports of suspected Indonesian militants.
The militants have threatened to kill their hostages if the nation’s military fails to cease its current offensive against them.
Bishop Edwin de la Peña y Angot, Prelate of Marawi, told CBCP News that he was not home at the time of the attack, but his secretary is reportedly among the hostages.
The bishop said he received a phone call from a militant who used his secretary’s phone. On the other end of the line was a militant who introduced himself as a member of the Islamic State, and demanded a unilateral ceasefire.
Bishop Peña said he was allowed to speak with Fr. Suganob at the time in order to help make their demands clear.
“Mr. President, if you want me to kneel before you just to knock your heart in favor of our families who are crying out there in different places, for our relatives … we will do that,” the priest said.
He warned that the use of violence by the army will only put the lives of the hostages at further risk, since the militants are “ready to die for their religion.”
Speaking directly to Duterte, he stressed that “you can’t use force and violence because they have the commitment they will die for this.”
“Please consider us, we are victims,” he said, explaining that if needed, he would beg for their release and for the army to withdraw.
The video, according to CBCP News, first surfaced on the Facebook account of a user named “Datumasa Khalid.” Although it’s still unclear where the video was filmed, Fr. Suganob is seen standing in front of houses and vehicles that have been destroyed.
According to Philippines station ABS-DBN News, the death toll from fighting in Marawi has risen to 104, including some 65 militants, 20 government forces, and 19 civilians.
Much of the city’s population of more than 200,000 has fled the city, though officials believe as many as 2,000 have been trapped by the fighting.
In response, the area’s Caritas branch on May 29 launched a solidarity appeal asking dioceses to contribute what they can to help the displaced. As a start, the charitable organization has offered an initial 300,000 Philippine pesos ($6,000) for relief efforts in nearby Diocese of Iligan.
In the wake of the kidnapping, the Filipino bishops have urged prayers for Fr. Suganob and the other hostages.
While the majority of Filipinos are Catholic, they make up only five percent of the population in Marawi, a mostly Muslim city.
Archbishop Socrates Buenaventura Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the Filipino bishops’ conference, last week urged prayers for peace and asked the militants to show mercy.
“We call on the Maute group that claims to bear arms in the name of a Merciful and Benevolent God – the very same God we Christians worship and adore – to do the One God true honor by the mercy and benevolence that are two of our God’s most exalted attributes,” he said May 24.
The archbishop also addressed the response of government forces, saying, “We beg of them to make the safety of the hostages a primordial consideration.”
Duterte, who has been heavily criticized for a brutal crackdown on illegal drugs, has placed all of Mindanao under martial law.
The president has sought peace talks with two large Muslim rebel groups in the country’s south but has ordered the military to destroy smaller extremist groups like the Maute.
May 30, 2017. “We are asking you with heart, please consider us,” Fr. Chito Suganob pleads.
Abducted priest pleads for help in video
A week after his abduction by Islamic militants in Marawi City, a video of Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob surfaced on Facebook Tuesday appealing for President Rodrigo Duterte’s help.
The priest said the militants are demanding a stop to the military offensive against them and for the sake of the “prisoners of war”.
‘Mr. President, please consider us,” Suganob said in a cracking voice. “They don’t ask for anything.. they just ask that you leave this place peacefully.”
“We are in the midst of this war we are asking your help to please give what they are asking for,” he said.
The vicar general of the Marawi prelature said that along with him are about 240 more hostages, including several women and children.
It’s uncertain when the video was taken but it shows Suganob standing in the midst of destroyed houses and vehicles.
The video, showing Suganob in black polo shirt and maong pants, first surfaced on the Facebook account of a certain “Datumasa Khalid”.
“Mr. President, if you want me to kneel before you just to knock your heart in favor of our families who are crying out there in different places, for our relatives… we will do that,” he said.
He also warned that the relentless military offensive will just put the lives of the hostages at risk because the militants are “ready to die for their religion”.
“Mr. President, you can’t use force and violence because they have the commitment they will die for this,” he said as the military’s fight against members of the Maute group entered the 7th day.
Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña earlier said that the militants linked to the Islamic State have threatened to kill their hostages if the military offensive against them continues.
The prelate said he received a call last Tuesday from a supposed Maute militant and demanded for a “unilateral ceasefire”.
“They want a ceasefire and for the military to give them access out of Marawi. Otherwise, they will kill the hostages,” de la Peña said.
The bishop said he already saw the video but refused to release any statement for the meantime. CBCPNews
Updated 08:20 AM PHT Wed, May 31, 2017
(CNN Philippines, May 30) — A priest being held as a “prisoner of war” (POW) in Marawi is pleading with President Rodrigo Duterte to end the clashes by giving the enemies what they are asking for.
A video posted on the Facebook page of Bisaya News shows Rev. Fr. Teresito Suganob from the Prelature of St. Mary in Marawi City, appealing to the President as sounds of gunfire are heard in the background.
In the video, Suganob says he was taken as a prisoner of war along with churchworkers, a professor of the Mindanao State University, teachers from the Dansalan College Foundation Inc., carpenters, household helpers, children, Christian settlers, and tribe members. Suganob said there were around 240 POWs.
The video shows Suganob standing in front of a building bearing evidence of attack – holes in the wall which also appeared to be blackened with soot.
“Mr. President, we are in the midst of this war. We are asking your help to please give what your enemies are asking for,” he said.
Suganob said the enemy wasn’t asking “for anything,” just to withdraw “forces away from Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, and to stop the airstrikes, your air attacks, and to stop the canyon.”
In the video, Suganob did not mention where or if they were being held. The person who took the video was also not mentioned.
On May 24, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines confirmed that Suganob, along with others, was taken hostage by the Maute group following clashes that erupted the day before.
Suganob pleaded with Duterte, at one point sounding like he was near tears as he asked the President to “please consider us,” reporting they would hear gunfire from “time to time.”
“Mr. President, they do not ask for anything. They just ask that you leave this place peacefully. Do not give so much attack. The city in my background is ruined like this,” he said.
Suganob said as Duterte was also from Mindanao, he was familiar with the problems of the area, adding the rebel forces engaged in the crisis are ready to die for their cause.
Suganob said he would kneel before the President if it meant saving the 240 “prisoners of war” and to appease the fear of their families and friends.
“We want to live another day, we want to live another month, we want to live a few years. And in your generosity, Mr. President, in your heart, we know you can make something.”
(Story updated 7:50 a.m. of May 31 to include style revisions.)
Kidnapped priest made video message ‘under duress,’ says bishop
MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Though he was happy to see his right-hand man alive, Bishop Edwin dela Peña is worried about Father Teresito Soganub because the kidnapped priest was obviously “under duress” when he appeared in a propaganda video released on Tuesday, May 30.
Soganub, the vicar general of the Marawi bishop, was taken by the Maute Group when the clashes started on May 23. Nothing was heard of him until exactly a week later when the video message was released.
“We feel happy for him that he’s still there but at the same time sad because this is the most critical period sa (in the) Marawi siege,” Dela Peña told Rappler in a phone interview on Wednesday, May 31.
Soganub appeared in a propaganda video where he seemed to support the demands of the Maute local terror group.
Soganub said in the video: “Mr President, we are in the midst of this war. We are asking your help to please give what your enemies are asking for. They simply are not asking for anything – just to withdraw your forces away from Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, and to stop the air strikes, your air attacks, and to stop the cannons.”
A message to netizens
Dela Peña is concerned about netizens’ reactions to the video. He said they should know that Soganub said things he would not have said if he were a free man.
“You know what, when you are a captive, you are not free to speak your mind. I hope the netizens would consider that, that he is under duress and he is forced to say things he normally would not say,” Dela Peña said.
The bishop said Soganub would never support giving the Maute Group its own territory.
The propaganda video was released as the local terrorist group was pinned down in at least 3 villages in Marawi.
“It only shows that the Maute are pushed against the wall. Now they are using the hostages. They are demanding things like that. They know they have bargaining chips – the hostages – and it’s very difficult. I cannot imagine what will happen if they continue the air strikes and all that. Definitely they would be considered all collateral damage,” said Dela Peña.
The bishop lamented that no one from the military as well as the local government had contacted the Church to discuss the situation of Soganub.
“They haven’t come to me [or] notified me about what is happening now. No updates,” Dela Peña said.
Air strikes continued Wednesday morning. – Rappler.com
ACN PHOTO -Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, Founder Of The Silsilah Dialogue Movement In Zamboanga City, Philippines
“I hope the government will act wisely and prudently in order to avoid a bloodbath.” The words are those of PIME missionary Father Sebastiano D’Ambra, who is referring in particular to the abduction of Father Teresito Soganub, together with 15 other Christians, in the last few days in the city of Marawi, on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
Just a week ago Islamic jihadist extremists of the so-called Maute group seized control of the town. The dramatic clashes between Islamist rebels and the Filipino army have so far claimed some 100 lives and there are reports of barbarous killings and beheadings by the Islamist group.
In a telephone interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Father D’Ambra explained how the Islamist terrorists had abducted the Christians and set fire to the cathedral. “Probably, their intention is to use the captives as bargaining chips in order to persuade the army to withdraw,” he said.
The Maute group is affiliated with ISIS, to which it has pledged allegiance, the reason why it is now flying the black ISIS flag in the overwhelmingly Muslim city of Marawi. It is now becoming clear that members of the Islamist terror group Abu Sayyaf were also involved in this most recent attack.
Jihadism is on the rise in the country. Militants have succeeded in attracting new recruits, partly through ideology but also through the promise of lavish rewards. Father D’Ambra also mentioned “international interests that are seeking to destabilize this region. There appears to be a plan, which will continue in the same direction. The situation in Marawi will calm down before too long, but the terrorism will not stop.”
Radical Islamic terrorism has a long history on the island of Mindanao. Already back in the 1990s the Abu Sayyaf group was widely in action. The radicalization has continued since then with the proliferation of Islamist movements of Wahhabi inspiration, supported by Saudi Arabia. Also, for a decade or so there has been a strong and growing presence of the Islamist group Jemaah Islamiah, which originated in Indonesia. And in the last three years ISIS has found increasing support on Mindanao.
Just as in Marawi, in Zamboanga City, on the western tip of Mindanao—where in 2013 the terrorist Islamist paramilitary group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) destroyed half the city—the government has also declared martial law. “The authorities are calling on us to remain vigilant. Among other things the city lies on the coast, with many miles of coastline and numerous islands where the extremists can easily hide,” said Father D’Ambra.
Father D’Ambra himself has been living in the Philippines for 40 years and is the founder of the Silsilah movement, which has been striving since 1984 to promote interfaith dialogue. It has the support of part of the local Muslim community. “Incidents like what has happened in Marawi can only further aggravate a situation that is already complicated enough and make still more difficult the promotion of interreligious dialogue,” he concluded.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS);www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)
Related Articles/ Videos click below:
Philippines: Muslim Extremists Destroy the Cathedral of Marawi http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/05/26/philippines-muslim-extremists-destroy-the-cathedral-of-marawi/
Pray for Marawi City: CBCP alarmed by reports that ISIS flags now flutter over Marawi http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/05/23/pray-for-marawi-city-cbcp-alarmed-by-reports-that-isis-flags-now-flutter-over-marawi/