(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
MANILA/MARAWI CITY, Philippines - The Philippines ruled out negotiations on Tuesday with Islamist militants holding hostages and occupying a southern town, after reports that a rebel leader wanted to trade a Catholic priest for his parents being held by police.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said there would be no deals with the Maute group militants holed up in Marawi City because that was against government policy, and anyone trying to bargain had no authority to do so.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Abdullah Maute, one of two brothers who formed the militant group carrying their name, had told religious emissaries on Sunday that he wanted his mother and father freed in return for Father Teresito "Chito" Soganub, vicar general of Marawi.
The authorities believe Soganub and more than 100 other Christians are being held by the Islamic State-linked insurgents as human shields.