10/19/2009, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Mindanao: no claims Fr Sinnott’s abduction

by Santosh Digal
In Pagadian Muslims, Christians and Animists are asked to pray for the clergyman’s release. Fr Sinnott has been in his captors for more than a week, but there are confusing reports about where he is being held. The missionary involved in the liberation of Fr Giancarlo Bossi warns about the role of fake mediators.
Manila (AsiaNews) – There have been no contacts with the kidnappers of Fr Michael Sinnott, an Irish missionary abducted on 10 October in Pagadian (Mindanao) by a six men armed commando. He was seen the following day in Lanao del Norte, but since then police and the Church have continued their search operations and mediation efforts. In the meantime, Christians and Muslims are praying for the missionary’s health and prompt release. Yesterday Benedict XCI mentioned the clergyman in his address before the Angelus.

Also yesterday, parents and members of the Hangop Kabataan Foundation, a charity for disabled children founded by Fr Sinnott in 1998, held a prayer march in the city. They invited Christians, Muslims and Animists to pray for the rescue of the missionary, who has been involved for many years in inter-faith dialogue.

In Friday prayers, the local Muslim community also condemned the abduction of the Irish priest.

The local government today handed out thousands of leaflets, appealing “to your [the kidnappers’] kind heart that medicines be delivered to Father Sinnott, who currently has a serious heart ailment”.

According to police and the military, the St Colomban missionary is held by Latip Jamat, a commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), active in the city of Sultan Naga Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte). However, reports are confusing. The MILF in fact continues to deny any involvement in the abduction.

“They are in the province of Lanao del Norte,” said Benito de Leon, army chief in the area, “but there are other reports that place them in Zamboanga and others in Basilan.”

Fr Nador J. Jesulga, who was involved in the liberation of PIME’s Fr Giancarlo Bossi in 2007, warned against “fake mediators who allegedly claim to represent the abductors, because they want to take advantage of the situation for some ‘vested interest’ either for monetary gain or disrupt the dialogue process”.

For this reason, he suggests the authorities set up a task force to include military and police, as well as members of the local community and men of good will who want to see Fr Sinnott free.

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