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CBCP head asks troops: Prioritize safety of Maute hostages

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Wednesday called on security forces "to make the safety of the hostages a primordial consideration" as members of the Maute group laid siege at a cathedral in Marawi City.

"As the government forces ensure that the law is upheld, we beg of them to make the safety of the hostages a primordial consideration," Villegas said in a statement.

Villegas said Father Teresito Suganob and several parishioners were taken by Maute groups, who barged into the Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians on Tuesday.

"They threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces  unleashed against them are not recalled," he said. "We beg every Filipino to pray fervently for Fr. Chito and for other hostages."

"At the time of his capture, Fr. Chito was in the performance of his ministry as a priest. He 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 civilized conflict," Villegas added.

Marawi City Bishop Edwin dela Peña said the bandits also torched the cathedral.

The military and the police have yet to provide details of the incident.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, who had confirmed that three troops have been killed in clashes in Marawi, is sending more soldiers to Marawi City.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, public information chief of the AFP, said the military is in full control of the situation in the besieged city.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under Martial Law following the attack. —ALG, GMA News