RP Authorities Verify New Photos Of Kidnapped Italian Priest

July 7, 2007 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 

One of three photos released by MISNA international missionary news agency Friday July 6, 2007 with a statement claiming the photos are ‘proof that Father Giancarlo Bossi is alive.’ Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi, was seized by gunmen in the volatile Zamboanga Sibugay province in the southern Philippines on June 10. The Italian government sent an envoy this week for talks with Philippine authorities, on efforts to secure Bossi’s freedom. The Italian Foreign Ministry Friday was analyzing the photos for authenticity. (AP Photo/MISNA, HO).

 Editorial cartoon from PIME blog.

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 07 Jul) – Philippine authorities are verifying photographs of a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest as security forces continue searching for the Milan-born hostage in the jungles of Mindanao.

The 57-year old missionary Giancarlo Bossi was kidnapped June 10 by rogue members of the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, headed by Akiddin Abdusallam in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

The photos were sent through cell phone on Thursday to a Spanish priest, Angel Calvo, Bossi’s best friend in Zamboanga City. “I saw one photograph and we are trying to authenticate this,” Army Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Bossi’s congregation, the Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME), also has copies of the photographs. “There are now pictures of the captivity of Father Giancarlo Bossi,” it said on a statement posted on a blog dedicated to Bossi.

“Taken in an undisclosed place where there are trees of a young forest. He is wearing the same clothes he wore on the day of his kidnapping. The cinelas (slippers) are red and new.”

“There is rubber shoes too left on the ground. Containers of water suggest that they are hiking up in some higher places, may be mountains, where the air is much thin and cooler. Other things are inside these pictures, but we do not care! We will never put them in this Blog. They make us sad. We like other pictures; those of the day of his liberation!” it said.

Italian lawmaker Margherita Boniver arrived in a private jet in Zamboanga City late Friday to work with local authorities for the safe release of Bossi.

The lawmaker, accompanied by Italian Ambassador to Manila, Rubens Fedele, met with top security officials, but details of the conference were not made public.

Boniver said she met with President Gloria Arroyo in Manila and senior military officials and assured her that the search for Bossi is going on. “I am really thankful to President Arroyo for all the efforts,” she said on Friday.

The PIME said the kidnapping of Bossi has brought fears to many people. Bossi is the third Italian missionary kidnapped in southern Philippines the past decade.

“The mentality to abduct people has taken home in different places in our country. Somehow we feel that kidnappers are all over us, near our homes, families and children. A sort of evil that threatens all of us.”

“On the other hand this threat calls us to strengthen our courage, the courage to overcome the fear in our souls. It is funny to hear how foreign people see us: as a country gripped by Islamic rebellion, kidnappings and killing media people: for money and revenge. We have to overcome this image of the Philippines. We should demonstrate that violence has no place in our culture,” it said.

PIME did not say whether the kidnappers have demanded any ransom for Bossi’s release.
But the MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, previously, said the kidnappers were demanding “tens of millions” of pesos in exchange for Bossi’s safe release.

Kidnappings-for-ransom has become a lucrative business for rebels and criminal syndicates in Mindanao, where many areas are underdeveloped and job opportunities are scarce. Sometimes gangs kidnapped civilians and hand them over to rebels in exchange for a cut in the ransom. Poverty has been blamed for many kidnappings in the South.

Rogue MILF rebels kidnapped Father Luciano Benedetti, 52, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998 and held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.

In 2001, renegade MILF rebels and members of the bandit group called Pentagon Gang also snatched Father Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.

The priest was freed after six months in captivity in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers. (Mindanao Examiner)

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