06/25/2007, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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No contacts with kidnappers, search for Fr Bossi starts again in Payao

PIME missionaries in the Philippines have no news about any emissary from by Fr Giancarlo Bossi’s kidnappers despite a statement to that effect by the army general heading the search probe into the missionary’s disappearance. Search activities focus again on the area where he was kidnapped. A message of solidarity arrives from Dehonian missionaries.

Zamboanga (AsiaNews) – Father Bossi’s fellow clergymen in the Philippines “have had not any contact with his kidnappers and have not heard anything about an alleged emissary sent for his release,” this according to Fr Luciano Benedetti, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in Zamboanga, who spoke with AsiaNews.

Claims by the head of the search operation, General Ben Mohammed Dolorfino, that “an emissary has been sent to negotiate with us for Father Bossi’s release,” have so far not been substantiated.

“The search for Father Giancarlo is concentrating in the area where he was kidnapped, between Payao (his parish), the mangrove tree area near the Sibuguey River delta and Naga,” said Father Benedetti, who has been monitoring Father Bossi’s abduction case in the southern Philippines. Father Bossi was taken on June 10.

In the meantime expressions of solidarity for the abducted clergyman have been pouring into the PIME offices from around the world. After a silent torch-lit march on Friday in Father Bossi’s hometown of Abbiategrasso (Italy), and the prayer vigil in Zamboanga, Dehonian missionaries in the Philippines wrote to their regional superior to express “solidarity and concern for the dramatic Father Bossi is going through.”

In their letter the men religious say that they too had a similar experience to what happened to the PIME, namely the “abduction and long captivity of our own Father Pierantoni, something which makes feel close to you who helped us in every possible way and showed us affection and solidarity.”

Fr Giuseppe Pierantoni was abducted on October 17, 2001, as he celebrated mass in the church of Dimataling, in the southern part of Zamboanga Island, by alleged Muslim guerrillas (members of the Pentagon group). He was eventually released on April 14, 2002.

The Dehonian Fathers end their letter saying that “we shall continue to implore and hope that Father Giancarlo . . . will soon be home safe and sound.”

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