Marawi (Agenzia Fides) – The crisis in Marawi has entered the second week: since May 23, terrorists of the "Maute" group have occupied the city, destroyed the cathedral, burned down schools, and forced the civilian population to flee. The militants also kidnapped and still keep hostage about 200 people, including Fr. Teresito (Chito) Suganob and 15 Catholics. With the proclamation of martial law and the massive intervention of the Philippine army to free the city, terrorists are now confined in a small area and hide themselves in some underground tunnels.
In the last hours, the army captured Cayamora Maute in Davao, father of the two brothers Abdullah and Omar Maute, founders of the terrorist group. And although Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has solemnly said that "there will be no negotiations with the terrorists", as Fides learns, the arrest of Patriarch Cayamora Maute could be useful for informal negotiations aimed at the release of hostages, now used as a human shields.
"Fighting still continues in Marawi and we fear for the hostages. We have no news about their condition: they were kidnapped two weeks ago, they may need food, water and medices, and they are surely exhausted. We pray for them", says the Bishop of Marawi, Edwin de la Pena to Fides. The Bishop is appalled at the release of a video, by social media, showing young armed militants desecrating statues and sacred images and destroying the cathedral. "It is an immoral act of blasphemy, terrorists want to instill hatred on Christians and provoke a reaction. Our reaction will only be prayer, brotherhood and interreligious solidarity that many Muslim friends have shown us in these hours, also helping and defending the Christians of Marawi", he says. "Our spirit is the evangelical spirit of love for the enemy", he says to Fides.
Several Muslim leaders have expressed themselves: Alim Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, vice president of the Ulama Council in Basilan condemned the profanation of the cathedral defining the "non-Islamic" gesture. Also the Governor of the autonomous Region of Mindanao, Mujiv Hataman invited all Muslims in Mindanao to "condemn the action of terrorists linked to the Islamic State" and asked Muslims and Christians "not to fall in Maute’s trap" that want to trigger social and religious conflict. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 7/6/2017)