Religious targets of kidnapping

| October 14, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—At least 15 church people have been kidnapped in Mindanao since 1993. They included eight foreign nationals and seven Filipinos.

March 18, 1993. Spanish priest Fr. Bernardo Blanco was driving to his parish in Matarling, Basilan, when gunmen abducted him. He escaped after 48 days in captivity.

June 8, 1994. Abu Sayyaf bandits waylaid a bus and two jeepneys in Basilan. They seized 59 people, including Filipino priest Fr. Cirilo Nacorda and 13 teachers. Nacorda was freed after 61 days.

July 31, 1994. The Abu Sayyaf abducted American priest Fr. Clarence William Bertelsman, who was rescued after several hours.

March 11, 1996. Ernie Abella, a pastor of The Jesus Fellowship, was kidnapped in Davao City. He was released 24 hours later, after a “minimal” amount was paid.

Sept. 18, 1996. Ernesto Gordo Jr., an Episcopal priest from Tagum, was visiting his family in Upi, Maguindanao, when he was kidnapped. His body was found in March 1997.

July 3, 1997. Five gunmen flagged down a van driven by Protestant Pastor Winifredo Rio in Zamboanga del Sur and seized him. Ninety-six days later, they shot him dead, suspecting they were being encircled by soldiers in a place where they were supposed to receive a P50,000 ransom from Rio’s wife.

P7-M ransom

Oct. 27, 1997. Irish priest Fr. Desmond Hartford, acting bishop of the Marawi prelature, and Filipino priest Fr. Phil Quibranza were abducted in Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte. Quibranza was freed to relay to the authorities the kidnappers’ demand. Hartford was released 11 days later.

Nov. 18, 1997. Belgian priest Fr. Bernard Maes was on his way home from a farewell party for Fr. Hartford when four armed men abducted him in front of a church in Marawi. His kidnappers, believed to be former members of the Moro National Liberation Front, freed him two days later.

Sept. 8, 1998. Suspected Moro rebels seized Italian priest Fr. Luciano Benedetti and 12 Filipinos in Zamboanga del Norte. The Filipinos were released unharmed. Benedetti was freed on Nov. 16, reportedly after a P7-million ransom was paid.

Teachers found dead

March 20, 2000. Abu Sayyaf bandits seized Filipino priest Fr. Rhoel Gallardo and more than 50 students and teachers. Most of the hostages were eventually released. On May 3, 2000, the bodies of Gallardo and three teachers were found in Lantawan town.

Aug. 28, 2001. Irish Columban missionary Fr. Rufus Halley was shot dead in Malabang, Lanao del Sur, after resisting a kidnap attempt.

Oct. 17, 2001. Italian priest Fr. Giuseppe Pierantoni was abducted by armed men while saying Mass in Dimataling, Zamboanga del Sur. He was freed on April 8, 2002.

Jan. 28, 2003. Aglipayan priest Melvino Resurreccion, an anti-mining advocate, went missing in Surigao del Norte. He was recovered in a state of shock eight days later.

June 10, 2007. Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi was on his way to say Mass when he was kidnapped by Moro guerrillas in Zamboanga Sibugay. He was released after 39 days.

Inquirer Research
Source: Inquirer Archives

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Category: Mission Trip/Missionary Security

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