Philippines: Red Cross hostage freed after 178 days in captivity

The Church, civil community of South Philippines,  and all those working for peace in the area are rejoicing at the news of the freeing of Eugenio Vagni, the Red Cross volunteer who was kidnapped on the island of Jolo by a group of soldiers from the Abu Sayyaf, and released after 178 days of captivity.

The release, according to Filipino media sources, took place between July 10 and 11, after an agreement that called for the release of several men (probably relatives of the soldiers) who were in Filipino prisons. According to other sources, there was no ransom or agreement, but after months of military pressure the soldiers decided to free their last hostage.  Vagni’s two colleagues Andreas Notter from Switzerland and Mary Jean Lacaba were released in April.

Vagni said that he was forced to hike through the forest, that he was sick, and that he almost contracted cholera. He also said he was “aware that my life was on the line, as they threatened to decapitate us,” he said.

Vagni was abandoned in the remote village of Maimbung Town, on the island of Jolo.

Once he was rescued, he was taken to military authorities in Zamboanga, where he underwent several medical examinations. His overall health condition is fine. 

The news of Eugenio Vagni's release was celebrated with “particular joy and satisfaction” by the Holy See, said Vatican Press Office Director Father Federico Lombardi, recalling the two appeals made by Pope Benedict XVI for the release of Vagni, in March and June.

Source: Fides

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