Rescued Maute hostages say abducted Fr. Chito Suganob is still alive

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Fr. Chito Suganob

(CNN Philippines, August 12) — Four hostages rescued from the hands of the Maute terrorist group on Saturday said abducted Catholic priest Fr. Teresito "Chito" Suganob is still alive.

Suganob was in St. Mary's Cathedral when he was taken by Maute members on May 23 — when the Marawi crisis started.

Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson Jo-Ann Petinglay said the hostages were able to escape from the main battle area and were rescued beside Lake Lanao.

Three of them were from Zamboanga City, and one was from Iligan City.

Fr. Suganob abduction

On May 30, a video, posted on the Facebook page of Bisaya News, shows Suganob from the Prelature of St. Mary in Marawi City, appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte as sounds of gunfire are heard in the background.

READ: Abducted priest to Duterte: Consider us; give your enemies what they ask for

In the video, he said he was taken as a prisoner of war along with church workers, a professor of the Mindanao State University, teachers from the Dansalan College Foundation Inc., carpenters, household helpers, children, Christian settlers, and tribe members.

READ: Palace on reported Maute-hostage swap: No negotiations with terrorists

In June, the terrorists said they were willing to release Suganob, along with other hostages, in exchange for the detained parents and relatives of the leaders of the Maute group.

The government, however, did not pursue its negotiation with the terrorists.

Hostage situation

The rescued hostages said they also noticed at least two female hostages were already pregnant.

However, they were unsure if the pregnant hostages were sexually harassed, as they were separated in a different room.

Petinglay said the Maute group may still have up to 70 hostages, which they are using as human shields against government troops.

CNN Philippines' Rex Remitio contributed to this report

This is a developing story, refresh the page for updates.