10/08/2015, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Del Torchio kidnapping: "May not be Islamist groups"

Fr. Giovanni Re, PIME regional superior in the Philippines, says that "it is more likely to be groups looking for ransom, as often happens before elections." The area of Mindanao "is still one of the most dangerous. We take precautions but sometimes kidnappings occur even in quiet areas ". Some classmates of the former missionary describe him as "a person of great sensitivity and practical skills. Intuitive and resourceful ".

Manila (AsiaNews) - The kidnapping of Rolando Del Torchio "may not necessarily be linked to the conflict between the Islamic separatist groups in Mindanao and the government. We cannot say that it was made to boycott or to undermine the agreements reached. Also because in Dipolog [place of abduction ed] there are no conflicts between Christians and Muslims. It is more likely that the reason is not political, but economic, for a ransom", says Fr. Giovanni Re, PIME regional superior in the Philippines, commenting on yesterday’s kidnapping of Rolando del Torchio, a former missionary, now manager of '' Ur Choice Cafe.

In recent days, three foreigners (two Canadian and one Norwegian) and a Filipino woman were kidnapped on the island of Mindanao. "There are several kidnappings of Filipinos, even of non-rich people (teachers, small shopkeepers) - said Fr. King - happens often when elections approach [the next will be in 2016 ed]. Some say that the ransom is used to finance election campaigns".

Mindanao is "a very delicate, especially in certain areas and at certain times. We try to take every possible precaution to avoid such incidents - continues the priest - but, as this case demonstrates, they can also occur in non-hazardous locations. "

Rolando Del Torchio, 57, comes from Angera (Varese, Italy). Ordained a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in 1984, he worked in Naples for a few years and was then sent to the Philippines, to Sebuco on Mindanao, not far from where he was kidnapped.

As a missionary, he worked hard to defend the rights of farmers and tribals against landowners, often putting his own life at risk. In 2001, he asked to live outside the Institute, remaining in Zamboanga del Norte. Subsequently, he left the priesthood for personal reasons.

"Immediately on arriving in the Philippines – says Fr. Re - Del Torchio began working with farmers to teach them techniques (he was a land surveyor) and to create cooperatives. Most of the population of this area is rural".

These activities "allowed him to know the city of Dipolog and later, when he decided to leave PIME, after a few years in Italy he returned and opened a restaurant”.

Some classmates describe Del Torchio as "a person of great sensitivity and practical skills. Intuitive and resourceful ".

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