Quantcast
Connect with us

Catholic priest kidnapped in Philippines

Published

on

PAGADIAN, Philippines – The kidnappers of an elderly Irish Catholic priest in the Philippines have released a video of their captive in which he says two million dollars must be paid for his release.

The video, a copy of which was seen by a local journalist in Pagadian city on Saturday, showed 79-year-old Father Michael Sinnott holding a copy of the October 22 issue of a Manila newspaper.

ADVERTISEMENT

“My kidnappers are led by commander Abu Jayad. They are asking two million US dollars as ransom money,” the priest said while standing in front of what appeared to be a bed sheet or table cloth in a forested area.

“We are living in the open, in difficult circumstances. I am still in good health even if I do not have the full medicines.”

It was the first time any proof had been made public that Sinnott, who needs medication for a heart condition, was alive since gunmen seized him from his mission office in Pagadian on Mindanao island on October 11.

Father Patrick O’Donoghue, the Philippine head of the Missionary Society of Saint Columban, who saw photographs taken from the video, confirmed that it was Sinnott and expressed relief that he was looking relatively healthy.

However, he stressed that no money would be paid to secure Sinnott’s freedom.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The Columban fathers do not pay ransom and we never have and I don’t think we ever would,” O’Donoghue said.

He said Sinnott would not want a ransom to be paid.

“I could see him wanting that money to be used in ways rather than ransom. That two million should rather be used for education, for the care of people with disabilities,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

O’Donoghue said he had no previous knowledge of the video and that he immediately relayed the news to a government commission that is in charge of recovering Sinnott.

The pictures from the video showed an unshaven Sinnott smiling slightly, while someone else’s hand from outside the frame helped in holding up the newspaper.

ADVERTISEMENT

In Manila, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner confirmed that the military had obtained a copy of the video.

“Our intelligence (agents) on the ground have a copy,” he told reporters.

However he said the military still could not verify who had really captured the priest.

ADVERTISEMENT

There have been conflicting reports about who is holding Sinnott, with the military initially saying he was kidnapped by a Muslim pirate active in the area.

Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro has also said he believes Sinnott is being held by rogue elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a separatist Muslim rebel group engaged in peace talks with the government.

The MILF has repeatedly denied any involvement. MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu told AFP on Saturday he did not know of any Abu Jayad, and had not been aware of the video before it was released to the media.

“We don’t know anything about a video that came out as proof of life,” said MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu.

ADVERTISEMENT

However he said the MILF leadership was aware of Sinnott’s general location and the likely identity of his kidnappers. But he said he would not reveal the details while the MILF pursued its own efforts to recover Sinnott.

The Irish government released a statement on Saturday saying: “The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Micheal Martin… spoke to the Sinnott family early this morning and they were very relieved to hear that there is further evidence that Father Sinnott is alive.

“Minister Martin also spoke to our Ambassador Richard O’Brien who has over the past three weeks been working closely with the government of the Philippines on behalf of the Irish government and has had meetings with representatives of the MILF and other agencies working in the area.

“Minister Martin said that no effort will be spared to secure the safe release of Fr Sinnott as soon as possible.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The area of the southern Philippines where Sinnott is believed to be held is a known stronghold of the MILF, while armed gangs and the Muslim Abu Sayyaf militant group are also known to operate in the often lawless region.

The Abu Sayyaf and other gangs have kidnapped priests and other foreigners in the region previously, then demanded ransoms for their release.

Sinnott has spent about 40 years in the Philippines, and is well-known in Pagadian for helping disabled children and other charity work.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump may come to regret his big celebration of a small dip in unemployment

Published

on

Though the unemployment rate remains in the double-digits, the official unemployment numbers are slightly lower than economists expected, prompting self-congratulations by President Donald Trump.

This article first appeared in Salon.

But experts say celebration is premature.

Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate fell from 14.7 percent in April to 13.3 percent in May as the economy added 2.5 million jobs. The high April number was the worst that the American workforce had seen since monthly record-keeping began in 1948, and almost certainly the worst since the Great Depression. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett predicted last month that unemployment would rise above 20 percent, a view that was widely shared by economists.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

DC mayor trolls Trump by lighting ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza: ‘We turned on the night light for him’

Published

on

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

It’s Donald Trump vs Joe Biden: Associate Press reports former VP has clinched the DNC nomination

Published

on

The 2020 general election campaign between two top parties has unofficially been set.

"Joe Biden formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Friday, setting him up for a bruising challenge to President Donald Trump that will play out against the unprecedented backdrop of a pandemic, economic collapse and civil unrest," the AP reported Friday. "The former vice president has effectively been his party’s leader since his last challenger in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders, ended his campaign in April. But Biden pulled together the 1,991 delegates needed to become the nominee after seven states and the District of Columbia held presidential primaries Tuesday."

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image