Italian Missionary Kidnapped in Philippines Is Alive

Captors Demand That Priest Buy His Freedom

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MALABANG, Philippines, JAN. 22, 2002 ( The kidnappers of Italian missionary Giuseppe Pierantoni told a Philippine newspaper that their priest-hostage is alive.

The kidnappers have demanded the priest´s savings account in exchange for his freedom, a member of the kidnap-for-ransom Pentagon gang told The Manila Times.

Sources reported that Father Pierantoni is now in the town of Tungao, in Zamboanga del Sur near Sibugay, the purported headquarters of the Pentagon.

The Italian priest was kidnapped Oct. 17 by six heavily armed men in Dimataling, in Zamboanga del Sur.

In Cotabato City, a military spokesman said a woman physician kidnapped last week is still being sought in the area of Kabuntalan town in Maguindanao. The military said it has added troops to seal the possible escape routes of the kidnappers.

Major Julieto Ando, spokesman of the army´s 6th Infantry Division, said that Dr. Rosemarie Agustin is still being held by five to eight abductors and kept in a marshy portion of the town. One of the resident doctors of the Cotabato Medical Specialist Center here, she was seized by five men in front of her residence Jan. 15.

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