10/13/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Philippines, member of Abu Sayyaf arrested for killing of Fr. Roda

by Santosh Digal
The missionary, who was the pastor of Tabawan for 20 years, was killed last January 15 during a kidnapping attempt. In the past, he had received threats from fundamentalists, because of his work for the disadvantaged and for the promotion of interreligious dialogue. The arrest was made by a navy unit.
Manila (AsiaNews) - After ten months of investigations, security forces in Tabawan, in the southern province of Tawi-Tawi, have arrested a member of the commando group that, last January 15, killed Fr. Reynaldo Roda (in the photo) during a kidnapping attempt.

The arrest of Anni Sali, 46, originally from Siasi, a town on the island of Sulu, took place on Saturday, October 11, at two o'clock in the afternoon, during an operation conducted by a special unit of the navy.

According to some eyewitnesses, Sali was a member of the group that in the middle of January broke into the residence of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Tabawan; the gang, connected to the fundamentalist group of Abu Sayyaf, was supposed to kidnap Fr. Roda, the director of Notre Dame high school, but the kidnapping attempt concluded tragically with the death of the religious.

Fr. Reynaldo Roda, a missionary and for more than 20 years the pastor of Tabawan, was praying inside the convent when the group broke in, forcing him to follow them; the religious resisted, provoking the reaction of the criminals, who killed him with multiple gunshot wounds to the head and body.

The missionary was very active in promoting interreligious dialogue, and had founded a cooperative to support Muslim fishermen; he was greatly loved by the local community, so much so that some had tried to stop him from being kidnapped. Fr. Roda had received death threats from the terrorists in the past, but had always ignored them, preferring to remain close to his people. Over the years, he had promoted programs on behalf of the environment and social collaboration, and in the areas of education and interreligious dialogue.

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