11/12/2009, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Joy for the release of Fr Sinnott

by Santosh Digal
After release, the priest speaks of his 31 days of captivity. The kidnappers would never have killed him they were just looking for the ransom. Fr. Sinnott wants to stay in the Philippines.
Manila (AsiaNews) - "We thank all those who worked for the release of Fr Sinnott and we hope that such incidents do not recur in future", says Msgr. Angel Lagdameo, president of the Filipino bishops' conference, on the release of Fr Michael Sinnott. After 31 days of captivity, the Irish missionary St. Columban was released this morning in Sangalo (Mindanao-Zamboanga), thanks to the intervention of members of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front).

Fr. Sinnott was kidnapped last October 11 at his home in Pagadian (Zamboanga) by a commando of seven armed men. To escape they Philippine army the kidnappers forced Fr. Sinnott, elderly and with a serious heart condition, to hike for a month in the jungle province of Lanao del Norte, located 150 km from Zamboanga.

"Immediately after the kidnap I was bundled onto a boast and brought to Lanai – says Fr. Sinnott - and here I was entrusted to two guards". "After crossing the swamps – he continues – they led me into the forest". He says that as his only shelter in the jungle were branches and he had a hammock as a bed, but he adds he was treated well by his kidnappers.

"I was kidnapped for ransom - said Fr Sinnott - the kidnappers always promised me that I would not be killed”.   The priest adds that "despite what has happened to me I still want to work in the Philippines."

Fr. O'Donoghue, regional superior of the Society of St. Columba, said "This morning we learned with joy and gratitude of the news of the release of Fr. Sinnott", and that "in the coming days, we will decide where to assign him. For now he needs to rest and regain his strength".

In recent weeks the Columban missionaries in Pagadian and Zamboanga had organized prayer vigils and peaceful demonstrations to demand the release of the priest, involving Christians and Muslims.

In recent years, 13 foreign missionaries have been kidnapped or killed. Fr. Sinnott is the third priest of Irish order to be kidnapped. In 1997 Fr. Des Hartford was kidnapped by a group of Islamic rebels and freed after 12 days of captivity. A few years later in 2001 another missionary from Waterford, Fr Rufus Hally was killed during an attempted kidnapping. In 2007, MILF had brokered with the kidnappers for the release of PIME missionary Father Giancarlo Bossi, who was kidnapped in Zamboanga and freed after 39 days of captivity.

 

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See also
Free after a month the priest kidnapped in Philippines
12/11/2009
Church and government will not yield to the kidnappers' ransom demand for F. Sinnott
02/11/2009
Philippine military and Moro Muslims together to liberate p. Sinnott
28/10/2009
Search operations for abducted Irish priest underway in Mindanao
12/10/2009
Irish priest kidnapped in Mindanao alive
13/10/2009


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