Concerns about the fate of the Irish priest remain high because of his age, 80, and especially his health: he has had four bypasses and needs constant medical care.
“From what priests involved in abductions in the past say, we know that these groups move constantly to avoid detection,” Fr Lovett said. “For Fr Sinnott this is further complication given his health conditions.”
In the meantime, the leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) denied reports that the separatist group was responsible for the abduction.
According to Major General Ben Dolorfino, Western Mindanao Command chief, Fr Sinnott’s kidnappers made a call to his colleagues at the Columban Society in Pagadian City, but he did not provide any details about the conversation, saying he was “not authorised to reveal the content.”
Fr Lovett is convinced that his fellow brother is in the hands of a “breakaway faction of the MILF”. For him, the statement by the group’s spokesman, Eid Kabalu, who denied any involvement in the abduction, is credible.
“It is about money. The kidnappers want ransom money,” the Far East director said. “This is the most likely scenario. There is nothing to suggest that other factors are involved, including political claims or pro-autonomy demands in the region.”
Contacted about ongoing negotiations to free the Irish priest, Fr Lovett said, “the Irish government is doing what it can, but we are counting on the action of the bishop, police and local government, who know what to do in case of abductions.”
He stressed that “we do not want any bloodshed”, adding that it is presently impossible to foresee “what is going to happen next.”
The Columban missionary confirms that the institute will not pay any ransom, this despite being targeted and having lost a fellow brother in the past.
“If missionaries are targeted, that is because kidnappers know that in the end a ransom will be paid, and it will make our work impossible to continue,” Fr Lovett concluded. (DS)