Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub, the Catholic priest who was abducted by terrorist gunmen in the southern Philippine city of Marawi in 2017, was laid to rest on Monday, August 3.
Father Soganub died of cardiac arrest on July 22.
He was buried at the public cemetery of his hometown in Norala, South Cotabato province, two days after he would have turned 60 years old.
On Saturday, August 1, other survivors of the war in Marawi paid tribute to the priest who survived four months of captivity in the hands of terrorist gunmen.
The tribute was organized by various civil society groups to mark Father Soganub’s birthday.
“It is heart breaking. We have not seen him during the last days of his life and we cannot attend his wake,” said Abel Moya, director of the non-government Pakigdait Inc.
Strict quarantine measures due to the coronavirus pandemic do not allow travel in several provinces of Mindanao.
Moya said Father Soganub has been a “pillar” of Pakigdait for 15 years and became chairman of the organization after the Marawi conflict.
Roger Patendol, 43, a fisherman from the village of Buruun in Marawi, said he met the priest in captivity on June 4, 2017.
“We did not have the chance to have a long talk because we were forbidden … but there was only one line that I cannot forget about him when he said ‘We should not lose our hope and faith in God whom we believe can help us get out from this situation,’” recalled Patendol.
“That made me realize to hang on to God and to never lose hope,” he said. “I only have a few words for Father Chito. My big salute to you, Father,” said the fisherman.
Father Soganub escaped and was eventually rescued by the military on September 17 that year while Patendol did the same on October 3.
Noeleta Cosap, another survivor, also met the priest in captivity.
“I asked him ‘Father, what do you think of this situation?’ and he answered, ‘We Christians and Muslims are praying to the same God,’” recalled Cosap.
“His answer made me think of him as somebody who possesses kindness, humility and patience,” she added.
Romer Sarmiento contributed to this report