Zamboanga (AsiaNews) – In the search for Fr. Giancarlo Bossi – the missionary priest from the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missionaries kidnapped in Mindanao June 10th last - “the idea is being put forward to open new channels linked to civil society and NGO’s working on the ground”. Fr Sandalo, regional superior for PIME in the Philippines reported the move to AsiaNews. Following a meeting between those heading the search, the missionary explains that the “army and Philippine police have requested help that goes beyond the military option, having recognized that sheer force is not enough”. “We have put forward the idea of forming a group, comprising people of outstanding moral authority and well known locally, with the aim of studying the possibility of opening up negotiation channels with the kidnappers”, he adds.
12 days on from the abduction what is most worrying is the lack of reliable information regarding Fr. Bossi’s whereabouts or the identity of his abductors. The setting up of new channels – they underline at PIME – is not an alternative to the joint task force of the army and Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Fr. Sandalo underlines that “the military operation will continue, the army has committed itself to facilitating and easing meetings with informants who may be able to shed light on the case or supply valid information to establish contact”. PIME immediately clarified that should this new group of mediators establish contact with the kidnappers, the Institute “is not willing today for information”; in order “to avoid the creation of a chain of people presenting false information or continual requests”. The reference point in all negotiations will remain Ipil prelature.
Meanwhile a large number of military personnel continue to patrol the area west of Mindanao. Today the blog set up by PIME missionary brothers also gave an update on the search in the area. “Family men, soldiers, police, members of MILF and of (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units) are all cooperating together in the search for Fr. Bossi. But also the ‘tanod’ this humble class of people made up primarily of small farmers and fishermen who keep the peace and order in the zone (Barangay), even the smallest and most anonymous of them. Maybe it will be these people who free Giancarlo. Our people, the Philippine, from Mindanao, made up of Christians Muslims and dozens of indigenous; they are great people, sparing no effort in the search for our companion”.
Support and prayers for the Italian missionary are many. Yesterday evening two candle-light processions were held in Zamboanga and Abbiategrasso, Fr. Bossi’s home town.