10/14/2015, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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“Reserve” over Del Torchio kidnapping: A video appeal by Davao kidnapped

Mayor of Dipolog, where former missionary was kidnapped, asks press to stop publishing further details about the case. There are fears that sensitive information may end up in the hands of kidnappers. Regional superior in the Philippines: "We have not received any ransom demand." Four people seized by Islamists a few days before Del Torchio appear in videos with kidnappers, demanding an end to the military operations against the terrorists.

Manila (AsiaNews) - Evelyn Uy, Mayor of Dipolog, the city where Rolando Del Torchio was kidnapped on 8 October, has asked all media to "stop publication and broadcast of details about the kidnapping" of the former PIME missionary, "according to the wishes of the family and close friends”. The authorities, read the letter published two days ago, "are investigating and conducting operations for Mr. Del Torchio’s release. Given the nature of the operations, the family fears that sensitive information may inadvertently go to the kidnappers and prejudice the outcome of the investigation”.

Fr. Giovanni Re, PIME regional superior in the Philippines states that "there are no new developments on the case. We must keep in mind the letter from the mayor and maintain reserve so as not to hinder the investigation. "

Meanwhile, the three foreigners (two Canadian and one Norwegian) and the Filipino woman abducted in Davao City before Del Torchio, on 21 September, have appeared in a video posted by Islamic extremists. The hostages are seen sitting on the ground, surrounded by masked men armed with submachine guns.  In the video they appeal to the Philippine authorities to stop military action against militants and call on the Canadian government to open negotiations for their release. "But only when you have fulfilled our demands - says one of the kidnappers - can we talk about negotiations."

The Philippine authorities are convinced that the kidnappers of three foreigners and Filipino woman belong to Abu Sayyaf, one of the Islamist groups active in the guerrilla war against the government in Mindanao. Their stronghold is the southern island of Jolo, where presumably prisoners are being kept, although there is no confirmation of this.

It is not yet clear who kidnapped Del Torchio. A few days ago Cleve Taboso, Police Superintendent Dipolog, cited some footage of CCTV cameras of the kidnapping, identifying members of the "Commander Red Eye". The "Red Eye" is a local gang linked to Islamic extremism and Abu Sayyaf, which has carried out kidnappings in the past.

John P. King is cautious: "There has been no confirmation that the kidnappers of Del Torchio are the same of the other hostages. For now there has been no ransom demand. " Even Evelyn Uy, Mayor of Dipolog, has warned against "inaccurate data" that were given "to feed the public", making explicit reference to the images of the abduction of Del Torchio.

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