Ex-Italian missionary released in Sulu

Editha Z. Caduaya

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Ex-Italian missionary released in Sulu
(3rd UPDATE) Suspected Abu Sayyaf members release a former missionary who runs a restaurant in Dipolog City

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – After 6 months in captivity, an Italian missionary turned businessman was released in Sulu on Friday evening, April 8, after protracted negotiations with his kidnappers, sources from the police and intelligence community told Rappler.

Rolando del Torchio was kidnapped 6 months ago, on October 7, 2015, at his pizza restaurant in Dipolog City, by gunmen who were later identified by authorities to be rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The 57-year-old Del Torchio was eventually brought to Sulu, which is the bailiwick of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

Intelligence sources told Rappler that local policemen led by Sulu police chief Senior Supt Wilfredo Cayat “recovered” Del Torchio at the port of Jolo at 7:30 pm Friday. 

Photo sourced by Rappler

Policemen and members of the Coast Guard accompanied him in a ship bound for Zamboanga City, a separate police report said. Torchio will be brought to the military’s trauma center in the city “due to poor health,” the same report added.

Ransom was paid for his release, according to intelligence sources. ASG members kept him in captivity in Sulu, they added.

Del Torchio was a former missionary of Vatican’s Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME). He was born in the town of Angera, northern Italy, and ordained priest in 1984. (READ: Priest-turned-chef talks about Benedict, Church)

In 1988, Del Torchio was assigned in Muslim-dominated Sibuco town, Zamboanga del Norte. He stayed there until 1996. He then moved to Dipolog and worked with a non-governmental organization that helped farmers. 

Del Torchio liked Dipolog so much he decided to stay in Dipolog City, where he opened his own pizza house called UrChoice. – Rappler.com

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