CBCP: No more abductions of foreign missionaries, please

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 July) — What happened to Italian priest Fr.
Giancarlo Bossi should not happen again as foreign missionaries are giving
great service to the people especially in Mindanao, the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines said in a statement posted on its website
Saturday.

The statement came two days after Bossi was released in what reports said
was a result of a kidnap-for-kidnap approach allegedly used by military
higher-ups. Government operatives reportedly snatched the wife and three
children of the suspected leader of the kidnappers to force them to free
their captive.

The 57-year-old Italian missionary was freed Thursday night in Sultan Naga
Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte to former mayor Hajarim Jamil of Tuburan, Basilan,
who negotiated for his release. The priest was kidnapped on June 10 in
Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay.

“We hope that what had happened to Fr Bossi will not happen again,” CBCP
president and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said. The bishops said kidnapping should not be allowed to impact on the shaky
peace situation.

“Let the same not happen again in our society of already precarious peace,”
the CBCP head said.

He said foreign missionaries serve local churches amid sacrifices and
dangers.

The CBCP also expressed appreciation to those who facilitated his release.

“We welcome with joy and gratitude the release of the missionary, Fr
Giancarlo Bossi, by his abductors,” CBCP online quoted Lagdameo as saying.

On July 10, 14 Marines were killed in a clash with the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front in Tipo-tipo, Basilan. An imam or a Muslim religious leader
was also killed in the same area where the soldiers were killed.

Ten of the slain soldiers were beheaded, drawing condemnations here and
abroad and prompting the government, MILF and International Monitoring Team
to conduct a probe.

The government and MILF have been observing a ceasefire agreement since 2003.

Bossi said he was saddened upon knowing the Marines were on a mission to
rescue him.

The CBCP condemned the incident as a heinous act and joined the appeal for
justice in the restoration of peace.

Meanwhile, Fr. Luciano Benedetti, a PIME missionary now based in Western
Visayas, said they are happy over the release of Bossi.

Benedetti, kidnapped in 1998, was the first Italian missionary to be held
hostage in the country, CBCP online said

Benedetti said, however, there could be “board and lodging fees” paid but
that nothing came from the PIME. Board and lodging is a euphemism for
ransom.

“Let us continue to pray and work for peace, harmony and authentic human
development for all, and for a situation where incidents like this will no
longer happen,” Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Valles was also quoted by CBCP
online as saying. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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