Kidnappers, presumably the Al Qaeda related Abu Sayyaf, kidnapped a priest in TawiTawi province in the southern Philippines, and when he resisted, killed him and took a teacher hostage to enable them to escape.
The Sun-Star reports:
Father Ramon Bernabe, OMI Provincial said Father Roda, who headed Notre Dame of Tabawan for the last 10 years, was praying in the chapel, as he used to do every night, when armed men barged in and tried to take him. “He struggled and resisted being taken away, and explicitly said that he preferred to be killed right there and then,” Bernabe said.
Father Roda was active in health and education in the area, and worked closely with local Muslim leaders, who condemned the murder of this innocent man. He would be the third priest killed in the last 11 years by terrorists.
The kidnapping may have “merely” been to supply money for the more militant groups in the area, or it may have been hatred for outsiders by the more militant groups.
Lately, the government’s negotiations with the MILF was going well, but talks have recently broken down. The Philippine military worries that outside radicals from Indonesia and Malaysia will start working on the frustrations of the locals to mount larger operations against civilians both in Mindanao and in the general Philippines.
The government has been aggressive at going after the more radical groups in the last year or two, and a joint “training” operation of the Philippine military with American troops is scheduled(the training will include building infrastructure such as roads and holding medical clinics).
At the same time, thanks to America’s “war on terror”, a lot of “insurgent” groups (both communist and Al Qaeda related) have found their money supply being cut off from left wing European sympathizers (for the NPA here in the Philippines or FARC in Colombia), or from “Islamic charities” for the various Islamic groups.
Hence the kidnapping attempt that ended up with Father Roda’s death. Was he being kidnapped because Abu Sayyaf needs money? Or was it just a general hatred of non Muslims or Muslims who don’t follow the correct version of Islam? Or was the hatred because Father worked in education, and Alqaeda linked militants frequently kill teachers in many countries.
The priest had received threats from Abu Sayyaf, and a previous kidnapping attempt was thwarted when he was not at home when the thugs came for him.
So why did he stay? One suspects that he felt it was his duty to continue his work with locals. Everyone is replaceable, but outsiders need to establish trust to work in development.
The same reason is given by Italian priests in the southern Philippines, who insist they will stay despite the danger. Yet although I admire those who work and are willing to risk their lives to better people in war zones, I am less supportive of the Italian’s priests’ bravado.
You see, if Father Roda is kidnapped and martyred, he will be a defeat for those who hate.
But if an Italian priest is kidnapped, that country’s hysterical types will insist on paying a huge ransom (yes, I know: the Italians denied paying a ransom for the last priest. And if you believe that statement, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you).
Publically saying you will be staying unarmed in a dangerous area is like putting up a sign “Priest here…2 million dollar ransom available”. And those receiving the money will use that money to buy bombs, pay men to join their war, and kill a lot of Filipinos.