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AFP not aware of Maute leader's offer to swap priest for parents

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday said it was not yet aware of an alleged offer of Abdullah Maute to release abducted Catholic priest Chito Suganob in exchange for his parents.

"Hindi pa po natin batid kung ano yung naging ugat niyan at kung saan nagsimula dahil hindi pa natin nakukuha yung pormal na pinanggalian," AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in an interview on Unang Balita.

A newspaper report said Abdullah, whom the military is now directing militants in Marawi City, has offered to release the abducted priest in exchange for his parents.

Padilla clarified that the military is not involved if there are really are such negotiations.

Suganob and several parishioners were abducted by Maute group members during the May 23 attack in Marawi City.

The AFP said that based on an information from a rescued civilian, Suganob was still alive and being held captive by the terrorists.

The priest was last seen in a video late May pleading for help.

On Sunday, Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said emissaries, who were not identified, had talked to the Maute leadership before the eight-hour ceasefire.

The same emissaries, who were identified only as Ulamas or Muslim religious leaders, led teams in the conflict zone to look for trapped civilians during the ceasefire. The teams were only able to rescue six civilians and recover one cadaver.

Authorities arrested Abdullah's mother, Ominta, in Cagayan de Oro City last June 9. Her husband, Cayamora, was arrested in Davao City on June 6. Both face rebellion charges. —Marlly Rome C. Bondoc/ALG, GMA News