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No Truth, Report that a Catholic Priest was held hostage in the Kolambogan Siege

 

August 18, 2008


Iligan City – There is no truth to an earlier report over the radio and which was circulated in text messages that a Catholic priest, Fr. Reggie Quijano, was held hostage by the armed group believed to be elements of the MILF that entered the municipality of Kolambogan, Lanao del Norte, at early morning of this day.

 

Fr. Quijano is the parish priest of Kolambogan and head of Pakigdait Incorporated, an NGO based in Lanao del Norte that is engaged in peace-building at the grass-roots level.


According to the report, which proved to be utterly false and apparently concocted by malicious elements out to foment a religious conflict between Muslims and Christians in the province, Fr. Quijano and a group of priests were held hostage by MILF elements when the latter captured and took over the municipal hall of Kolambogan. The Church where Fr. Quijano holds services is near the municipal hall.

 

There was even a report that Fr. Quijano was killed by his alleged captors or was caught in crossfire.

 

All of these reports, however, were proven to be baseless rumors when Fr. Quijano was interviewed live on Radio DZRH this morning. Fr. Quijano belied all the reports that said he and several other priests were made hostage by the MILF.

 

Meanwhile, another group of priests, this time from a Protestant denomination, the Philippine Independent Church, also denied a similar report that they were held captive by the MILF during the same incident. Interviewed over the same DZRH, the spokesman of the group explained that they sought cover from the fierce firefight between the MILF and government troops but there was no truth that they were taken hostage as alleged earlier by some media men who were out to sensationalize the whole incident by creating false reports.

 

The siege on and subsequent capture of Kauswagan and Kolambogan by guerillas believed to be MILF elements paralyzed all forms of activity and traffic along the Iligan-Pagadian-Zamboanga- Ozamis national highway.

 

The attack came in the heels of the controversy surrounding the aborted signing of the MILF-GRP Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last August 5.

The MOA-AD was used by Filipino politicians, media, big business interests, some elements of the Church, and Mindanao settlers to viciously attack the peace negotiation, whip up an anti-Moro hysteria, and demonize anew the MILF, the Bangsamoro people, Islam, as well as members of the international community such as Malaysia and the United States of America for having been active in the peace process to resolve the conflict in Mindanao on the basis of justice.

 

The MILF leadership meantime revealed that it did not sanction nor had prior knowledge of the attacks on government forces and installations in Lanao del Norte. It attributes such attacks on the initiatives of ground commanders, assuming that they were responsible for these attacks, whose extreme frustration at the turn of events in the peace negotiation has impelled them to make tactical decisions at their level of commands.

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August 21, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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