Fourteen Philippine marines were killed and ten beheaded searching for Father Bossi, an Italian missionary priest who was kidnapped by rogue MILF soldiers probably in cooperation with the Abu Sayyaf group.

Now the Italian
Prime Minister Prodi released a statement announcing the priest’s release. And the Pope, who prayed daily for his release, is full of joy.

But how many Filipinos will die because the ransom will enable these groups to buy more guns, make more bombs, attack more Christian churches, and kidnap more civilians?

Yes, I know. Western Mindanao police director Chief Superintendent Jaime Caringal. denies that ransom was paid.

But I also noticed that the priest was released to representatives of the Italian government, not to Philippine authorities. And Prodi thanked the Italian negotiators, not the Philippine General who is the liason between the local government and the MILF. This suggest that the negotiations were privately done between the Italians and the terrorists, and ransom was paid. And not just a small ransom: the kidnappers demanded a million dollars for his release, so I suspect the amount paid was near this amount.

Such payments have been done in the past by the Italian government. A previous kidnapping of an Italian priest resulted in the payment of 80000 Euros. True, the hostage negotiator ran off with the money, but the point was the Italians paid it, and then denied they paid any ransom for the priest’s release.
Italy has paid over 11 million US dollars to Iraqi “insurgent” groups for their kidnapped nationals. The Italian government originally denied this money was paid, but the Italian press confirmed that money had indeed changed hands, and the UK Times investigations found various European governments paid over 45 million dollars to ransom their citizens: money that has been used to kill thousands of Iraqi civilians.

So excuse me if I am angry that Prodi thanked the Italian negotiators, and the Vatican is “happy” about his release, but neither bothers to mention those killed searching for him, or the dozen families who lost brothers, fathers or spouses in the search. Nor did their statements bother to condemn those who did the kidnapping.

Nah, don’t condemn people as evildoers. You might hurt their feelings. Don’t be judgemental even if the Abu Sayyaf has a history of anti Christian attacks.
Now, you might say, I am a hypocrite because I was not the one kidnapped. How dare I judge.

True, but I have been a physician during a civil war where I might have easily been kidnapped or killed. We instructed our families that we knew the risk and did not want the US government to intervene if we were kidnapped.

You see, the dirty little secret is that as long as ransom is paid, it encourages more kidnapping, and enables thugs masquerading as “insurgents” and liberators to buy supplies to kill even more people. This is the lesson that Colombia learned, and it is why the Philippine government opposes paying ransom.

And so, dear Pope, how many more Philippine citizens will die because you encouraged the Italian government to pay ransom for your priest? I can see the Italians ignoring this, but you, after all, are supposed to be in charge of the worldwide church, and the last time I looked, that includes the Philippines.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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