Update on Situation in Mindanao - June 3

Below is the latest news about the kidnappings in Marawi, Mindanao in the Philippines.

By Fr. Vincent Busch, June 3, 2017

Some geographic context

As the crow flies Marawi City is only 50 kilometers or 30 miles away from my residence in Ozamiz City but to get there I would need to ferry across a bay and then travel a circuitous route first on a coastline road to Iligan City and then inland up a winding road to the highlands where Marawi City lies next to lake Lanao. Lake Lanao is the source of hydroelectric power for much of Mindanao. Marawi is populated primarily by Maranao Muslims.

Subanen crafters worry about their loved ones held captive.
The Subanen Crafters are worried about their family
members being held captive in Marawi.
As they await news about their endangered relatives
they continue to craft Christmas cards which depict
Mary and Joseph who had to quickly flee from
Bethlehem to escape Herod’s soldiers.

Wednesday May 31, 2017

The fighting continues and still there is no word about the hostages. Meanwhile we are carrying on as best we can. It is sadly appropriate that the Christmas cards we are crafting depict Mary and Joseph quickly packing their belongings so that they can escape the danger of Herod's soldiers. The people of Marawi are also in danger and are fleeing the City. It is a poignant scene here as the Subanens craft cards that show the frightened parents of Jesus fleeing armed men while they listen to radio reports about Marawi and worry about their family members held hostage there.

Thursday June 1, 2017

Reports from a TV station in Manila say that The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has appealed to Muslim extremists to release the Catholic priest and other civilians held hostage in Mindanao. MoroVice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar, addressing their Muslim brothers in Marawi fighting the government, said Islam teaches that in war, religious leaders, women, and children who are not combatants must not be harmed. "We appeal to those holding Fr. Chito (Suganob) on humanitarian reasons and because this is what our religion Islam tells us, please, release him now, immediately," he said in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News' Christian Esguerra. "We hope and pray that people who are holding him will listen to our appeal and that this would find a place in their hearts." "Father Chito was really helping and he is a man of peace. Peace is important to him as proven by his assistance in ending this war in Mindanao through peaceful ways", added Jaafar. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front represent Muslims who are seeking autonomy for parts of Mindanao and are in talks with the government to finalize a comprehensive agreement that would address the aspirations of peaceful Muslims and Christians.

We here at Subanen Crafts hope that the Moro Front can persuade the Maute gang not to harm the hostages.

Friday June 2, 2017

Still no word about the fate of the hostages in Marawi.

Saturday June 3, 2017

Fr. Paul Glynn flew from Manila to Cagayan de Oro City to see how the Columbans there are coping with the situation and to see how the Columban Society can help ease the tension and aid the refugees. At 8 PM, Fr. Paul Glynn forwarded a text to me which he received at 6 PM from one of his sources. The text contained the following encouraging news: During a 2-hour cease fire today more than 100 captured civilians were let go by their captors. Included in this group were 33 personnel affiliated with Dansalan College which is run by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Father Chito was not among those released. It is not yet clear whether any of the Subanens were among those released. The military now have some idea where those still being held hostage are located.

Earlier today Paul attended an interfaith prayer gathering at Lourdes College in Cagayan de Oro City which was attended by many Muslims and Christians. At this gathering a learned Imam asserted that the actions of the Maute gang are not being true to the beliefs of Islam.

Later, there was a press conference about the situation which Archbishop Ledesma attended along with Religious, Government, Non-Government Organizations and People Organizations.

Paul reports that there are military check points stopping all vehicles coming into Cagayan de Oro City. They are looking for Maute gang members that might be among those evacuating from Marawi.

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