PEACETALK: Who gains from the kidnapping of a priest?

This happening in a remote place in Mindanao attained an international stature, when no less than Pope Benedict XVI had issued an appeal to his captors and his message was carried by major international news networks. As expected, reporters were quick to label the perpetrators of the crime as “Islamic militants” and renegade MILF forces led by a brother of a certain Kumander Kiddie.

The immediate and more visible effect of this kind of event is bit sober on account of a civilized norm and enlightened consciousness by the family and friends of the victim, but the deeper emotional impact on ordinary individuals are harder to fathom. The Christians were directly insulted with such an inhuman treatment of a Christian religious man who had not wronged anybody else or society. It always left the impression that some Muslims hated him because he happened to be a Christian priest.

In reality the Muslims all over the world, as well, are as affronted with the unjudicious use of the word “Islamic militants” to refer to the suspects of this despicable offense, which is against the teachings and morality of Islam as a religion of peace. The Muslims in truth have a moral duty to protect religious people of all faiths including Christian priests!   

Surely enough, as a consequence, the relation between the two communities that is painstakingly built by many dedicated and responsible people that include the religious groups of many faiths, interfaith bodies and civil society organizations including the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, that start from developing trust, confidence building and reconciliation, were the first to suffer. Also, some people say the peace process between the GRP and the MILF with all its promising result for unity and lasting peace is likely smeared by this single dastardly act.

This is the reason why, the CBCS, a network of more than a hundred Moro civil society organizations in Mindanao, feeling much dismay, had issued a press statement of sympathy to the victim and condemned this despicable act and appealed for the immediate, safe and unconditional release of Fr. Bossi. 

When such a thing happened as the kidnapping of a Christian religious man, we are always tempted to ask the question. Why could such a man be the subject of kidnapping? He is not rich, and certainly, the Catholic Church is known as not paying ransom money.  

When a crime is committed, it is likely done by someone who gains from it. Any rational mind will make this conclusion. Ironically, whenever such event bringing religious sentiments happens, the majority allows themselves to be carried by biases and prejudgment, which makes us susceptible to manipulation.  

On deeper reflection, we must also consider that any group who could gain from eroding the good relationship of the Muslims and Christians and interested in stopping the GRP-MILF peace process to preserve and protect or advance whatever political or economic interests they have are likely behind it. The direct perpetrators who were labeled as “Islamic militants” may have been only willing accomplices used in the process. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is a section open to anyone who wants to write his/her thoughts on peace in Mindanao. Maguid A. Maruhom is chair of the CBCS-RMC, Sibugay Region)