Rolando del Torchio, a former missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was seized by at least seven still unidentified gunmen from a pizzeria he owns in Dipolog City.
Dipolog City Police chief, Supt. Ranie Hachuela, said four of the kidnappers posed as customers of the UrChoice Bistro Cafe in Barangay Miputak, before taking the 56-year old victim.
Del Torchio was forced into a waiting van by the gunmen before escaping towards the city boulevard that is less than a kilometer away then went away in a speedboat to unknown direction.
The police official said that a jacket, sunglasses and the cardboard boxes that were used by the gunmen in concealing their weapons were recovered from the pizza parlor.
Police and the military immediately launched a hot pursuit operation to rescue the victim, but the kidnappers managed to elude arrest.
Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, acting spokesman of the Western Mindanao Police Office said that Dipolog Mayor Evelyn Uy has convened a crisis management task group to negotiate for Del Trochio’s safe release.
Police officials said that Del Torchio was born in the town of Angera in northern Italy and was ordained a priest in 1984.
He was previously assigned in some areas in Zamboanga del Norte during the 90s before he left the priesthood and started a business in Dipolog.
The kidnapping of Del Torchio came little more than two weeks after gunmen seized three foreigners and a Filipina from a resort on Samal Island, Davao del Norte. (AHV/CBCPNews)