By JOEY P. NACALABAN
It is exactly one year since the dreaded Maute-Isis attacked Marawi city and held hostage several civilians.
Michael Bustamante of Bombo Radyo, in his noon-time program “Labatiba” was able to conduct an interview with one of the hostages during the incident.
A certain alias Felix (real name withheld) of Misamis Oriental, was one of the hostages of the Maute Group for five months.
Felix used to work as an on-call electrician based in Marawi city since 2001. He stayed at Quezon Avenue.
He said he was working inside one of the buildings when the war between the terrorists and the government troops broke out.
He said he and several others were trapped in a building. What they did was to hide so that they would not be seen by the armed group.
This time, he said the terrorists were already controlling portion of Marawi city and they were on the streets.
He said they transfered from one house to another until one day the Maute Group caught up with them at Raya Madaya. It was June 2.
There were about 30 plus of them including a three-year-old child who were hostaged by the group.
He said he saw personally the Maute Group brandishing their high-powered firearms.
The Maute Group, according to Felix had foreign companions. They were Arabs, Malaysians, and Indonesians. There were also Tausugs. There were 15 of them.
Their hostage-takers ordered their victims to ransack houses and buildings and get anything especially money, pieces of jewelry, and food.
He said from time to time the Maute Group would talk to them and try to convince them to join their cause.
After days of captivity, the Isis transfered all their hostages to a mosque which the muslims called “Moske bato.”
There were 200 plus including children. All of them were non-muslims and majority women who were teachers at Dansalan college.
Felix said at the area he saw Father Suganob, the Catholic priest. Suganob, he said was vert silent and seems afraid. He never talked to his fellow hostages.
Felix said he was still lucky because he was assigned at the kichen. What he had been doing for many months was only to cook food for the Maute Group and it was a routine activity.
It was Oct. 4 when intense fighting occured. Felix said he saw members of the Maute Group hit by bullets and laid dead.
He said drones were everywhere. One drone entered their room through an open window and has a mobile phone hanging on it.
One of the teachers took the phone and it serve as their means to contact governnment forces.
As the skirmishes continued more intensely, Felix and some hostaged teachers found an opportunity to escape by running away towards the place where the Marines stationed themselves.
“Grabe gyud among dagan padulong sa mga Marines. Nalimot na gani ko naa diay koy samad. Hangtud nga giabot gyud mi sa area,” Felix recalled.
They were then airlifted to Camp Evangelista hospital for treatment.
Felix said he never thought he would still survive from the experience. It was an experience he said, he will never forget untill his death.
He said he will never live in Marawi City again for as long as he lives.