ZAMBOANGA CITY -- An 80-year-old Irish priest who was kidnapped and held hostage in Mindanao for a month last year has returned and resumed his missionary work in Pagadian City.
Father Michael Sinnott of the Missionary Society of Saint Columban (MSSC) arrived in Pagadian City, the capital of Zamboanga del Sur province, last Friday after a two-month vacation in Ireland following his release from captivity last November.
Zamboanga del Sur provincial government spokesman Allan June Molde said Sinnott immediately proceeded to the MSSC charity house that he founded upon arrival and vowed to continue his missionary works.
"It's very nice to be back, and I'm looking forward to going back to my work in Pagadian," the priest said shortly after his return.
He said he wanted "to do the little bit I can for as long as I can."
The Irish priest was kidnapped in the evening of October 11, 2009 by gunmen who barged into the MSSC compound in Gatas Disrict, Pagadian City while he was strolling at the compound’s garden.
The kidnappers had demanded a $2 million ransom for his release.
Sinnott, however, was freed by his abductors at dawn of November 12, 2009 and was turned over to government peace panel chairman in the village of Sangali, 25 kilometers east of Zamboanga City.
His release came on the same day US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Manila, but Malacañang said it was just coincidental.
Security officials blamed Sinnott's kidnapping on members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Muslim separatist rebel group that has entered into peace talks with the government.
The rebels denied involvement, with one of their leaders claiming that his group applied "pressure and moral authority" on the gunmen to release the Columban missionary.
Sinnott, according to reports, was the third Irish missionary to be kidnapped in Mindanao since 1997, when Fr. Des Hartford was held by Moro rebels for 12 days.
In 2001, Father Rufus Hally, a missioner from Waterford, was shot dead during an attempted abduction.
As of this posting Tuesday, Sinnott's superiors have not said if he will be allowed to resume his missionary duties. (Bong Garcia/With AP/Sunnex)