New video shows Islamic militants smashing statues, torching church
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! That’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
Cardinal Quevedo: Stop anti-Muslim hate
Intolerance and discrimination against Muslims are not new, but signs of these phenomena seems to be on the rise in recent days, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of the Cotabato archdiocese said.
He said this negative stereotype associating Muslims with violence are happening again because of the crisis in Marawi City besieged by the Maute terror group.
“Many… especially those outside Marawi. And when they hear the stories of evacuees, their prejudices rise,” Quevedo, a known advocate of peace between rebel Islamic groups and the government, said.
The first cardinal from Mindanao also emphasized the need to educate Christians to stop anti-Muslim hate.
“And I say, let them live and get exposure in two, three weeks with Muslims in Cotabato for instance,” he said.
The Mindanao bishops earlier gave their support to the martial law in Mindanao that was declared by President Rodrigo Duterte after the Marawi crisis erupted.
But they said it should only be “temporary” and “a means of last resort”.
Quevedo said they will continue to back martial law “until we believe that is needed, and then we evaluate again the situation as time goes”.
He said there are many problems in Mindanao that need to be addressed from illegal drugs to corruption.
“They are not really part of rebellion but one can say that criminality is rebellion against the law. So you can (cover) that, I think, a little bit,” said Quevedo.
“But I would like to see some things that are truly accomplished definitively – the change of culture from impunity to a culture of accountability and transparency. That’s the most important,” he added. CBCPNews
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