CBCP: No more abductions of foreign missionaries, please

The statement came two days after Bossi was released in what reports said was a result of a kidnap-for-kidnap approach allegedly used by military higher-ups. Government operatives reportedly snatched the wife and three children of the suspected leader of the kidnappers to force them to free their captive.

The 57-year-old Italian missionary was freed Thursday night in Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte to former mayor Hajarim Jamil of Tuburan, Basilan, who negotiated for his release. The priest was kidnapped on June 10 in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay.

"We hope that what had happened to Fr Bossi will not happen again," CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said.

The bishops said kidnapping should not be allowed to impact on the shaky peace situation.

"Let the same not happen again in our society of already precarious peace," the CBCP head said.

He said foreign missionaries serve local churches amid sacrifices and dangers.

The CBCP also expressed appreciation to those who facilitated his release.

"We welcome with joy and gratitude the release of the missionary, Fr Giancarlo Bossi, by his abductors," CBCP online quoted Lagdameo as saying.

On July 10, 14 Marines were killed in a clash with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Tipo-tipo, Basilan. An imam or a Muslim religious leader was also killed in the same area where the soldiers were killed.

Ten of the slain soldiers were beheaded, drawing condemnations here and abroad and prompting the government, MILF and International Monitoring Team to conduct a probe.

The government and MILF have been observing a ceasefire agreement since 2003.

Bossi said he was saddened upon knowing the Marines were on a mission to rescue him.

The CBCP condemned the incident as a heinous act and joined the appeal for justice in the restoration of peace.

Meanwhile, Fr. Luciano Benedetti, a PIME missionary now based in Western Visayas, said they are happy over the release of Bossi.

Benedetti, kidnapped in 1998, was the first Italian missionary to be held hostage in the country, CBCP online said

Benedetti said, however, there could be "board and lodging fees" paid but that nothing came from the PIME. Board and lodging is a euphemism for ransom.  

"Let us continue to pray and work for peace, harmony and authentic human development for all, and for a situation where incidents like this will no longer happen," Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Valles was also quoted by CBCP online as saying. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)