Zamboanga (AsiaNews) – “During the 39 days, I was constantly moved from place to place. I prayed for my capturers every evening”; Fr Bossi revealed during a press conference organised in Zamboanga, immediately after his release from 39 days of captivity in the hands of a group of abductors.
So far, the Philippine authorities have supplied contradicting versions of those responsible for the sequester. Western Mindanao police director Chief Superintendent Jaime Caringal maintains that the authors of the kidnapping were separatists from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); while a close adviser to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo suggested that Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic extremist group known to have ties with Al-Qaeda, might be responsible for the abduction.
“I used to smoke a lot prior to the abduction – confessed the 57 year old PIME missionary – then one day when I was climbing a mountain together with the abductors I felt very week, so I said to myself, if I want to survive I would not smoke anymore, and so I didn’t!”.
“Often – continued Fr. Bossi - my abductors used to tell that I had been captured for a ransom for the group that belongs to Abu Sayyaf group”. They also told him names of themselves but he could not remember them, but he could “register their faces”.
According to Jaime Caringal, who personally followed the case and claims to have mediated with the abductors for the hostage release, Fr. Bossi was freed yesterday evening at 9 pm local time in the city of Karumatan, on the orders of MILF leader commander Khidi. The police chief excluded the payment of a ransom, but instead described negotiations for the release of Fr. Bossi as “frenetic”.
“Fr. Bossi was released without any payment of any ransom. What the Church in the Philippines did was pray for a positive outcome”; reaffirmed Msgr. Pedro C. Quitorio, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) spokesman. Archbishop Romulo Valles of Zamboanga said the abduction of Fr. Bossi had been a matter of great concern, adding that his release had “overjoyed whole church”.
Benedict XVI had followed the entire case with great trepidation and was immediately informed yesterday evening in Lorenzago, the Italian Alpine region where he is currently enjoying a period of rest, of the PIME missionary’s release. “The Pope – said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi – prayed each and every day for the release of Fr. Giancarlo Bossi. The news of his release brings great joy to the entire Church and also for the Holy Father. Our prayers have been answered”.