Kidnappers in Philippines Request Medicines for Hostage Priest

Uncertainty Over Identity of Group That Captured Missionary

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ROME, OCT. 31, 2001 ( Father Giuseppe Pierantoni´s kidnappers in the Philippines have asked for shoes and medicines for the missionary.

The priest was kidnapped Oct. 14 on the island of Mindanao. According to the Misna missionary agency, the Diocese of Pagadian has succeeded in contacting the group of kidnappers, who made the request Monday through an intermediary.

The kidnappers made their request to Bishop Zacharias C. Jimenez of Pagadian. The missionary was also said to need medication for amebiasis, an intestinal disease caused by amoebas, which he contracted a long time ago in Mindanao.

Misna sources said that Bishop Jimenez hopes to verify the report before sending the items.

Military sources have alternatively accused the Moorish Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Abu Sayyaf of the priest´s kidnapping. The first is a rebel group that signed a peace pact with Manila; the second is a terrorist group linked to Osama bin Laden.

Bishop Jimenez believes that the culprits are common delinquents, former MILF members who only want ransom money.

The government says it will not negotiate for Father Pierantoni´s release. Defense Minister Angel Reyes said the task of the authorities is to «find those responsible and free any hostage.» Last Friday, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo warned that «no ransom will be paid.»

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