It is highly likely that Rolando del Torchio was abducted by Jihadists. First of all, the abduction occurred on Mindanao, a hotbed of Jihadi violence for many years. Second, this poor man is a former Catholic missionary; missionaries have been especially targeted by Jihadists in the Philippines for many years.
This abduction shows the futility of negotiating with Jihadists. The Philippine government has been attempting to appease the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for years, so splinter groups and other independent Jihadist groups have carried on with campaigns of terror.
Even if MILF was willing to honor a truce with the Philippine government (highly doubtful), they are but one group of Jihadists operating in the Philippines. It is more likely than not that the Jihadist insurgency in Mindanao will escalate, rather than decline…
Unknown gunmen seized Rolando del Torchio, a former PIME missionary, in Dipolog City (Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao), where he owned the ‘Ur Choice Bistro Café’, an eatery near the Andres Bonifacio College.
Rolando Del Torchio, 57, comes from Angera (Varese, Italy). Ordained a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in 1984, he worked in Naples for a few years and was then sent to the Philippines, to Sebuco on Mindanao, not far from where he was kidnapped.
As a missionary, he worked hard to defend the rights of farmers and tribals against landowners, often putting his own life at risk. In 2001, he asked to live outside the Institute, remaining in Zamboanga del Norte. Subsequently, he left the priesthood for personal reasons.
Nothing is known about the kidnappers. Several Muslim guerrilla groups operate on the island of Mindanao. Some are engaged in talks with the Filipino government. Others abduct foreigners or locals for financial gain or to pursue their struggle against the authorities.
PIME has been present in Mindanao since the 1970s. One of Rolando Del Torchio’s colleagues, Fr Fausto Tentorio, was killed in 2011. Two other missionaries have been killed on the island. Private armed guards murdered Fr Tullio Favali in Tulunan, in the Diocese of Kidapawan, in 1985. Fr Salvatore Carzedda, who was involved in talks with Muslims, was assassinated in Zamboanga in 1992.
Two more missionaries have been abducted. Fr Luciano Benedetti was kidnapped in 1998 by a Muslim group but was released after about two months. A splinter group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) seized Fr Giancarlo Bossi in 2007 and released him after two months in captivity.