~from Asia News (Deo gratias!)
Zamboanga (AsiaNews) – “I want to return to Payao to greet my people, tell them that I am well and above all embrace the children again. My heart is and will remain in Payao. They say that a priest must also be a father and so as the father of my community it is my duty to return to my people, to my children”. Fr Giancarlo Bossi dries his tears as he tells of the difficult days of his captivity: his abductors kept him under constant armed surveillance as they sought to evade strict police controls. During his first press conference Fr. Bossi wore a simple black robe and spoke haltingly, deeply moved, about his period of sequester by abductors who claimed to “belong to the fundamentalist militants of Abu Sayyaf”.
Speaking alternatively in English and the local dialect, the Italian Missionary confirmed that the kidnappers “treated him well” despite moving constantly to evade military troops. He was fed rice and salt, dried fish. “I had a problem with the food, that's the reason why I lost a lot of weight, 15kg. But never mind, I will have a chance to increase my weight again.” He confirmed that he was moved within Lanao, without clarifying if it was in the North or South of the province. In order to keep up with his abductors he, a self confessed chain smoker, was forced to give up cigarettes: “One night while we were walking, we have to climb a mountain and my breathing was heavy: I told myself if I want to survive, I have to keep my breathing. Better stop smoking and I stopped smoking”.
Fr. Bossi says he is not afraid and adds that if his superiors “permit him” he will certainly “return to Payao: as soon as possible I will be among my people again”. Answering a journalists question as to what he would like to do most now, he said “As a free man, I can enjoy life again” and “go around and meet people again, it was a very incredible experience”. He also recalled how he felt when told about the 14 Marines in Basilan who died when their unit was ambushed as they returned form a mission to check reported sightings of the Italian priest. “I felt so sorry,” Bossi said. “In a way, I feel responsible for their deaths.”