By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Sunday said a mass was held at the St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi City which was formerly occupied by Daesh-inspired Maute Group terrorists.
The cathedral, it was recalled, was retaken by government troops late August of this year following intense firefight against the terrorist group.
Close to a dozen people including Catholic priest Fr. Rey Teresito “Chito” Soganub were snatched by members of the Maute Group from the church after they occupied Marawi City on May 23.
Videos posted online also showed some members of the Maute group desecrating the church and destroying a number of religious items inside.
Army Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Force Ranao, said the mass held at St. Mary’s Cathedral took place at about 7 a.m. Sunday while assault of government forces on Maute-ISIS defensive positions were ongoing.
Gunshots can also be heard while the mass was taking place and attended by at least 200 to 300 soldiers.
Brawner also said the mass held at the cathedral, the first since the conflict broke out, is significant for them because it is the feast of St. Therese, the patron saint of the military.
“We asked for blessings so that our troops will be shielded from harm,” Brawner said.
“Moreover, today marks the 4th anniversary of the Liberation of Zamboanga after the siege by terrorists,” he added.
A boodle fight was also later held at the Joint Task Group (JTG) Ranao headquarters which was also attended by Sen. Win Gatchalian, AFP Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. and other high-ranking military officials.
“Sen. Gatchalian was there because he is a member of the committee in charge of the rehabilitation of Marawi. He is also the chairman of (the Senate) Economic Development Committee,” Brawner said.
“He will help in the release of the budget needed for the rehabilitation of the city,” he added.
Tags: Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Daesh-inspired Maute Group, government troops, Manila Bulletin, Marawi, Mass, Mass celebrated again in Marawi cathedral first since war broke out, St. Mary's Cathedral