By FROILAN GALLARDO
Special Correspondent .
MARAWI City — “ I was made to do the laundry and cook. Not a day that I did not think I will die here,” Fr. Teresito Suganob said when he first visited the Bato mosque where he and a hundred hostages were held by Daesh-Maute gunmen during the siege in Marawi City.
For four harrowing months, Suganob and the hostages cowered in fear in the basement of mosque as the militants fought a fierce gun battle to defend it and another building that serve as their command center.
“We saw them bringing their wounded here. As the fighting (got) more fierce, I felt death here,” the 57-year-old priest said.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi liberated a year ago following a five-month siege led by Insilon Hapilon, the local head of the IS, who led fighters from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Middle Eastern countries in taking over this Islamic lakeshore city of more than 200,000.
Transferring to another site in Marawi, Suganob excitedly showed reporters where the gunmen took a video of him to make an appeal to Duterte to stop the military offensive to spare the lives of the hostages on May 30, 2017.
“Mr. President, I was taken as a prisoner of war.” Suganob narrated the appeal by memory.
Maute gunmen abducted him and dozens of civilians when the militants attacked Marawi, where he had served as vicar-general of St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Suganob said he is undergoing psychological help to relieve him of the memories.
He said not a day that scenes of his days in captivity did not flash back at nights when he turns in to sleep.
“But I know I have to turn these nightmares into good memories so I can still serve the people in Lanao,” Suganob said.
He said for 117 days, he was fearful that he and the other hostages would die from the bombs dropped by the Philippine Air Force planes.
Suganob is now the head of Pakig-dait non-government organization that foster better relations between Muslims and Christians in the two Lanao provinces.