In the Philippines, the passing of a martyr for peace

THREE YEARS since surviving the long and dark Islamist siege of Marawi, Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub, former vicar general of the Prelature of Marawi, the Philippines, has died. He was 59.

Father Soganub (2018)
Father Soganub (2018)

The cause of death was cardiac arrest, as confirmed by Bishop Edwin Dela Peña of the Prelature of Marawi. “Our dearly beloved Father Teresito Soganub died of cardiac arrest in his sleep early this morning, July 22, 2020 in his home in Noralah, South Cotabato,” the bishop wrote in a Facebook post.

Father Chito was among the hostages captured by the ISIS-inspired Maute group, which waged war and terror in Marawi for five months. His captivity lasted 117 days.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) extended condolences to the bereaved family and relatives. Thomas Heine-Geldern, ACN executive president, wrote to Bishop Dela Peña:

“Our relationship was not only professional, through our project work and media interviews of Father Teresito, but personal. His efforts in interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding, culminating in his extraordinary witness of great faith during his kidnapping, provided us with inspiration and a great affection for this man whom we came to know as Father Chito.”

“His stories, together with his works and advocacies, continue to inspire and encourage us still today to better fulfil our mission of helping our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you, Father Chito. May your valiant soul rest in peace”.

Long before the siege, Father Chito was already paving the way for interreligious dialogues between Christians and Muslims. Though he didn’t have an official assignment as a priest, the priest was active in Mindanao, where he continued his advocacy for peace. He was the President of Pakigdait (meaning “peace,” or “solidarity”), a pioneering organization pursuing interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding in Lanao.

In the last few years, ACN has supported several projects in the Prelature of Marawi to help the victims of the violence in Mindanao and to promote interfaith dialogue.

—Camilla Advincula & Maria Lozano