Freed former Italian priest won’t talk about captivity PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 10 April 2016 14:29

Kidnappers linked to the IS-aligned Abu Sayyaf have released a retired Italian catholic priest turned restaurateur they snatched on October last year.

Rolando Del Torchio was freed Friday night, six months after he was kidnapped in Dipolog City.

“On April 8, 2016 around 8:30 p.m., kidnap victim Rolando Del Torchio was recovered by elements of the Sulu police provincial office led by Sr. Supt. Wilfredo Cayat, Coast Guard, police maritime Anti-Kidnapping Group and the Joint Task Force Sulu) at Jolo Port,stated a police report.

Del Torchio was found aboard M/V KC Beatrice that was bound for Zamboanga City.

The former priest was brought to the AFP Trauma Center in Sulu  for medical check up.

Del Torchio appeared weary and thin when he arrived in Zamboanga City aboard a Philippine Navy seacraft and was brought to the Camp Navarro General Hospital for medical checkup.

Del Torchio asked for cigarette to stay calm and said he wanted to set aside his experience from captivity by the Abu Sayyaf , according to military official.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman of Westmincom, told reporters the military doctors declared the freed captive in stable condition but has lost weighs and appeared tired.

“He was saying he was tired and he wants to rest. He wants to set aside his bad experience,” Tan was quoted by Philippine Star as saying  when he asked if  Del Torchio is available for media interview.

According to Tan, Del Torchio said he is happy to be free and wants to see his family.

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After the medical check-up, Del Torchio was turned over to the custody of the AKG who accompanied him going to Manila aboard a private plane.

The military official identified the Abu Sayyaf group as responsible for Del Torchio’s captivity.

Tan declined to provide other operational details which Del Torchio disclosed during the debriefing as this may preempt any operation on the ground.

He also could not provide information as to how the victim was freed and could not confirm whether or not a ransom was paid.

“That will be answered by the AKG. The role of the AFP is to facilitate the safe transfer of the victim. The AFP strictly adhered the no ransom policy,” Tan said.

But sources on the ground revealed that the Abu Sayyaf group demanded P30 million but only P29 million was raised for the release of the victim.

Tan also explained that the recovery came after the AKG was reportedly tipped about the release of Del Torchio which prompted the authorities to conduct the search.

“They found Fr. Del Torchio alone aboard M/V Beatrice,” Tan said.

Tan revealed that a kidnap-for-ransom group (KFRG) which operates in Zamboanga City was responsible for the abduction of Del Torchio.

Gunmen seized Del Torchio at his pizza parlor named “Ur Choice” in Dipolog City, Zamboanga Del Norte on October 7, 2015.

Some of the kidnappers posed as customers when they snatched Del Torchio, who had been targeted by kidnap gangs linked to the Abu Sayyaf several times when he was still an active priest.

Born in Angera, Italy, Del Torchio was ordained as a priest in 1984 and served as a missionary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

He was assigned in Muslim-dominated Sibuco, Zamboanga Del Norte, in 1988 and stayed there until 1996, before moving to Dipolog and opening his pizzeria there.

Del Torchio’s release comes a week after Abu Sayyaf gunmen kidnapped 10 Indonesian and four Malaysian sailors in two separate strikes.

Aside, from the 10 Indonesians and four Malaysians,the Abu Sayyaf - notorious for beheading their hostages if ransom is not paid — are holding captives two Canadians and a Norwegian they abducted at a famous southern resort island of Samal.

Meanwhile, Tan said there are no reports yet about other kidnap victims, including Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Filipino Marites Flor and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, among others.

The military official said the Westmincom continuously conducts focused military operation for the safe recovery of the victims.

“The more that our troops right now are intensifying the operation with the release of the victim,” Tan said. — With report from Dan Toribio Jr.