[19 October 2009] There are reports in some media outlets that the Columban Missionaries in the Philippine Region have requested the help of the US Government to secure the safe release of Fr. Michael Sinnott [in photo]. I would like to clarify that the Columban Missionaries here in the Philippine Region did not in any way make such a request. Nor did we ask the Columbans in the US Region to make it for us.
The Columbans in the US Region, upon hearing of Fr. Mick’s abduction and on their own initiative, did send a letter to the Philippine Ambassador to the USA, Mr. Willy C. Gaa, to express their concern at the abduction of Fr. Mick and to respectfully convey this concern to the Philippine Government together with their request that “all peaceful measures be taken to locate Fr. Sinnott and negotiate his release”. Their letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton conveyed the same concern and request. This kind of concern is similar to what many others around the world have done and is something that we deeply appreciate.
As we, here in the Philippines, know, before any of these requests were made, the Philippine Government had not only expressed those same concerns but had acted swiftly on them. The task force that was set up immediately and chaired by Governor Cerilles is clear evidence of this. And I am very much aware of how, in a very short time, all possible resources of government were made available to ensure the good health of Fr. Mick and to obtain his safe release. I want to express again my sincere gratitude to all those involved and, indeed, to all those others who are doing everything possible to help. It is very heartening to me and to all Columbans to know this level of commitment to ensure Fr. Mick’s welfare.
I would be very concerned if people were to misinterpret what the Columbans in the US intended by their request. It is one of fraternal concern for their brother priest and should be seen as that and that alone. It would be most unfair to the Philippine Government and to the Columbans in the US if it were to be construed as anything else, especially a lack of interest or effort on the part of the government or government agencies here.
Rev. Patrick O’Donoghue
Missionary Society of St. Columban