Three years since surviving the long and dark Marawi siege, Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub, former Vicar General of the Prelature of Marawi, passed away on July 22. Fr. Chito was 59 years old.
The cause of death was cardiac arrest, as confirmed by Bishop Edwin Dela Peña of the Prelature of Marawi. “Our dearly beloved Fr. Teresito Soganub died of cardiac arrest in his sleep early this morning, July 22, 2020, in his home in Noralah, South Cotabato”, he wrote on a Facebook post. The estimated time of his passing was between 5:00 to 6:00 AM.
Fr. Chito was among the hostages of the ISIS-inspired Maute group, which waged war and terror in Marawi, Philippines for five months. His captivity lasted for 117 days. Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need sent his condolences to Bishop Edwin Dela Peña: “Our relationship was not only professional, through our project works and media interviews with Fr Teresito, but personal. His efforts of 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 who we also came to know as Fr Chito. We are ever grateful for his presence during our celebration of the Red Wednesday in the Philippines in 2018, where he willingly shared his heart-wrenching experiences not only in captivity but also with God.”
“These stories, together with his works and advocacies, continue to inspire and encourage us still today to better fulfill our mission of helping our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.”
“Thank you, Fr. Chito. May your valiant soul rest in peace”. Long before the siege, Fr. Chito was already paving the way for interreligious dialogues between Christians and Muslims.
Albeit not having an official assignment as a priest, Fr. Soganub was active in Mindanao, where he continued his advocacy for peace. He was the President of Pakigdait (meaning “peace”, or “solidarity”), a pioneer organization of interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding in Lanao. ACN has supported several projects in the Prelature of Marawi to help the victims of the violence in Mindanao and to promote the interfaith dialogue in the last years.