CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 September 2017

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Birthday as a hostage

MANILA (SE): The fate of Father Chito Soganub, who along with several dozen others from his parish and teachers and students from a nearby school, was kidnapped in the first move of the Maute Group in taking over the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines on May 23, is still unknown.
 
It was reported on August 25 that the resistance group had been forced out of the mosque in which they had been holed up, but had only retreated to strongholds near the mosque and the extent of control they monopolise in the towns around the shores of Lake Lanao remains an unknown to the Philippine military.
 
In mid-August, it was reported that Father Soganub was still alive and being forced to assemble explosives for his captors. However, a Subanaan person, who had been among the hostages and managed to escape, reported that he was doing the cooking.
 
In early June, a few video clips appeared on social media supposedly featuring his voice, but Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong, who knew him well in their student days at Mindanao State University, were certain that it was not him talking.
 
“That is not the way he talks,” one said, explaining that she had known Father Suganub since she left high school. “He just does not say things like that.”
 
However, the voice of a hostage on a video clip should never be taken at face value. Vincent Chen, who was arrested in Singapore in the extremely repressive days of the administration of Lee Kuan-yew in the 1980s, later said that a statement he read on television had been totally prepared for him by the government.
 
Chen told the Sunday Examiner that he had deliberately combed his hair differently and tried to change the tone of his voice to show that this was the voice of the government speaking, not his own.
 
He later lamented that no one seemed to have picked it up.
 
Father Suganub celebrated his 57th birthday in captivity on August 1. “For his birthday, I pray that my brother, as well as the other hostages will have peace of mind in the midst of war,” his sister, Marilyn Ginnivan, said.

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