Irish priest snatched

October 11, 2009 10:08 pm 

MANILA, Oct. 12 – An Irish priest was snatched by still unidentified suspects in Pagadian City on Sunday night and military intelligence personnel are hot on trail of the victim and his captors, a military spokesman reported Monday.

Citing initial information, AFP Western Mindanao Command spokesman Maj. David Hontiveros named the victim as 78-year-old Michael Sinot of the Columban missionary.

Hontiveros said Sinot was snatched by at least six suspects who entered the Columban House in Gates District in Pagadian City at around 7:20 p.m.

“The suspects forced the priest onto a mini-van and headed towards Sta. Lucia (district), where they burned the mini-van and transferred to a boat then fled,” he said.

“Intelligence operatives are hot on the heels of the six kidnappers,” he added.

Hontiveros could not immediately say the group affiliation of the suspects. “None yet. As soon as we determine it, we’ll inform you,” he said.

The official also could not say since when Sinot has been in the country. “I’m not sure. If he is with the missionary, maybe he is here long ago but we’ll try to find that out,” he said.

In its website, the Columban missionary said Sinot was snatched “as he was taking an evening stroll in the garden” outside his home.

However, it said five suspects staged the kidnapping around 7:30 p.m.

“Four of the five armed men burst into the garden and bundled Fr. Michael into a pickup truck and drove to a local beach. The vehicle was abandoned and burnt, (and) Fr. Michael was taken away in a speed boat,” it said.

The group said Sinot is a native of Barntown, Co, Wesford and was ordained in 1954.

Three years later, following studies in Rome, Sinot was first assigned to the Philippines, specifically in Mindanao. In 1966, he was assigned to the theology staff in Dalgan Park, Navan.

In 1976, he was again assigned to Mindanao “where he has served in a variety of pastoral and administrative roles.”

Since 1998, the missionary group said Sinot has been “involved” with the Center and School for Special Children which the victim established.

“The Bishop of Pagadian, Manny Cabajar and Fr. Pat O’Donoghue are in in touch with the local authorities following up the kidnapping. We request your prayers for the safe return on Fr. Michael,” it added.(PNA)

LDV/VR

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