By Leslie Ann G. Aquino
Leaving the priesthood never entered the mind of Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub even during the time when he was still being held hostage by the Maute Group during the siege of Marawi months ago.
“That’s out of the question. It never crossed my mind,” he said in an interview at the sidelines of the launch of the fund-raising campaign of Aid to the Church in Need Philippines for Marawi.
“That is not an issue, it’s more of how to survive and how to strengthen my faith as a priest. It’s not a question of getting out,” added the 57-year-old Soganub.
But the priest admitted questioning God at that time.
“It came to a point that you complain to the Lord: Why me? I didn’t commit any big sin,” Soganub said.
“But my faith never wavered, it even strengthened,” he added.
During the press briefing for the launch, the priest became teary eyed while recalling his four months of captivity.
“While there, you face death every day, sometimes it’s even every minute. You don’t know where the airstrikes will hit… that’s why you see the buildings there are really devastated. You wait for your death every minute,” said Soganub.
He said he survived because of his faith in God.
“If it was just me, I won’t be able to endure it but because I believe in the presence of God. I always tell Him to give me strength, not to leave me and I know He won’t leave me,” Soganub said.
He said it would probably take time before he returns to Marawi as he needs time to heal.
“I’m still at the healing stage that’s why I won’t be able to go back to the regular ministry yet,” said Soganub.
“But I miss saying Mass in the area and the work in the interreligious dialogue,” he added.
It was last May 23 when the Mautes abducted Soganub and some churchgoers when the extremist group attacked Marawi.
The attack prompted President Duterte to place the entire Mindanao under martial law.
After the priest was rescued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in September, Soganub stayed inside the military headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo where he underwent debriefing.
Soganub is the vicar general of the Marawi prelature, chaplain of the Mindanao State University, and acting rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral at the time of his abduction.