Breaking News: URI Member Rescued from Hostage Situation

31 August 2017
Fr. Chito Suganob Speaks Out About His Hostage Experience

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      

Breaking News Update: URI Member Rescued from Hostage Situation

September 20, 2017, San Francisco, CA, USA – Four months after Father Teresito "Chito" Suganob was taken hostage by ISIS-Maute gunmen, we have received news of his rescue.

URI member Father Teresito “Chito” Suganob and his parishioners were taken hostage on May 23 from the Cathedral of St. Mary’s in Marawi City in the Philippines during a violent struggle between the militant group and the government. Despite playing no role in the conflict, they were used as human shields and threatened with death unless the government recalled the forces it had deployed against the militants.

In response, the United Religions Initiative (URI) and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines joined their voices in a worldwide appeal to free the priest and his parishioners. Vatican Radio amplified their voices, publishing “Philippine Church Leaders Appeal for Hostages” to the global Catholic community.

Despite facing terrible acts of violence, the URI community continues to advocate for peaceful action. “The success of this violence relies on its dehumanizing power - turning us against each other by separating the human family into warring tribes,” says URI Executive Director Rev. Victor Kazanjian Jr. “But always remember there are millions and millions more people around the world who are peace-builders than there are people-destroyers. The extremists and terrorists, the people-destroyers, are a small minority among us.” 

“Have no doubt, we will overcome the violence of a few,” Kazanjian insists. “Peace will prevail on Earth.”



The United Religions Initiative is a non-governmental organization (NGO) with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and the largest grassroots interfaith network in the world. It cultivates peace and justice by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities. We implement our mission through local and global initiatives that build the capacity of more than 850 member groups and organizations, called Cooperation Circles, to engage in community action such as conflict resolution and reconciliation, environmental sustainability, education, women’s and youth programs, and advocacy for human rights. Learn more at


Gaea Denker | Tel +1-415-762-2721 | Email [email protected]