Zamboanga (AsiaNews) Ten days into the search for Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, kidnapped June 10, the Philippine military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have formally interrupted their collaboration.
It was confirmed by Gen. Dolorfino: “As each year the mandate of the Common Action Group, set up between Manila and the rebel chiefs has expired. This is why at the moment we have parted ways, and are once again adversaries. We cannot collaborate until the group is reformed”.
The problem surrounds the appointment of a new government negotiator. Manila, five days ago had proposed Fr. Eliseo Mercato, ex president of Notre Dame Catholic University, but MILF opposed the decision: “It is not a conflict between Christians and Muslims – they explained – but between the government and a group ho wants independence. A priest or imam are useless in these negotiations
Fr. Sandalo – PIME superior in the Philippines – tells AsiaNews this interruption “is of no particular concern. There is real commitment from all sides to resolving this case; this is merely a technical hiccup”.
Meanwhile, the government decided to intervene on cooperation between the military and secessionist rebels to rescue kidnapped Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi. The operations are expected to resume Thursday night after Malacañang (the Presidential Palace) named an acting chief government negotiator to talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed with urgency the appointment of Mindanao State University (MSU) professor Rudy Rodil as officer-in-charge of the government negotiating panel, Major General Ben Dolorfino said.
In the meantime, the faithful of every religion continue to meet in prayer, asking for the safe return home of the missionary, Mindanao’s “gentle giant. Tomorrow in Pershing square, Zamboanga, there will be a public prayer meeting for the release of Fr. Bossi, starting from five in the afternoon. A large number of faithful are expected to attend, candles in hand to watch the setting sun.
In Italy, a silent candle lit procession will take place tomorrow in Abbiategrasso, the missionary’s home village. This according to organizers “aims to be an expression of support for the priest’s family and at the same time an occasion to come together and push for his immediate release”.
An initiative “which is added to the many moments of solidarity already organised by Father Giancarlo’s fellow citizens in recent days: daily prayer vigils, banners and posters on shop windows and lighted candles on windowsills throughout the village”.