Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

Confidence Expressed For Priest’s Rescue Even If MILF Cannot Assist

ICC Note: PIME and the Philippine government believes Fr. Bossi can still be rescued without the MILF, though it will be with greater difficulty.

6/24 Philippines (UCAN) – Officials of the Italian Embassy and kidnapped Father Giancarlo Bossi’s congregation have expressed confidence in government efforts to free him even if the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has to dropped out.

Mario Alberto Bartoli, first secretary at the Italian Embassy, told UCA News officials there are “sure” the Philippine government “will continue to exert all efforts in order to assure the safety of the priest and his liberation.”

The secretary spoke with UCA News on June 21, the date the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) mandate between the MILF and the government expired.

AHJAG, created on May 6, 2002, is a group of military and MILF representatives designated to “isolate” and “interdict” kidnap-for-ransom groups, rogue or “lost command” rebel units and other criminal elements operating in Mindanao, the southern Philippines .

The MILF, currently involved in peace negotiations with the government, was established in 1977 to fight for creation of an Islamic state.

According to the May 6, 2002 Joint Communique between the front and the Philippine government, AHJAG is to focus particularly in areas near or within communities under MILF control.

As Philippine authorities briefed Manila media, Bartoli said embassy officials have not considered the implications of the cessation of the AHJAG mandate for operations to free Father Bossi…

PIME Philippine Superior Father Gianni Sandalo…expressed his belief that the military is strong and competent enough, even though he acknowledged the task ahead of them was “complicated” because the kidnappers had not yet identified themselves…

On June 21, Marine Major General Benjamin Dolorfino, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) National Capital Region command, told Manila reporters that the expiration of the AHJAG mechanism is “definitely a setback.”

Cooperation between the government and the MILF will “suffer,” explained the AHJAG co-chairperson, because without the memorandum “our mandate as a member is already unclear.”

Without an official mandate, Dolorfino said, the military will “refrain” from communicating with their MILF counterparts since “it might result in untoward incidents” for which the military could be held “liable…”

However, he assured that the government’s search operation for Father Bossi “never stops,” even though the military and MILF troops wait for a renewed official mandate.

Also on June 21, according to Dolorfino, MILF peace-panel chairman Mohaquer Iqbal issued a memorandum saying the MILF Central Committee is giving its AHJAG delegation “special authority to continue the joint rescue operation with its counterpart in the government against the kidnappers” of Father Bossi.

The general expressed his hope the government peace panel also will act on the mandate for the AFP….

(Full story)