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Unsuccessful search for missing missionary in Mindanao
by Santosh Digal

ICC Note: Here is an update on the missing missionary in the Philippines

1/9/07 Philippines For full story to go….(AsiaNews) – The search for a Catholic missionary gone missing on December 31 in the southern Filipino island of Mindanao has intensified. Local police but also members of the local Church are taking part in the operation. People are speculating that he was kidnapped by “some groups” but another theory suggests that he might be the victim of a settlement of scores. It seems the priest was involved in an argument with a neighbour involved in drug trafficking.

Fr Lucio Bola, 46, works at the Scalabrinian Seminary in Pardo village in Talisay, Cebu. He went home to Mindanao for the Christmas holidays on December 30, near Balingasag town, Misamis Oriental province. However, he has not been heard of since December 31.

Searches have been underway ever since but with no results so far.

Cagayan De Oro Mayor Vicente Emano said that he had the names of people who might be behind the priest’s disappearance, whom he considers a very likely kidnapping victim, but added that “they would be released only after they are checked out”.

Local media are suggesting that it might take a month before anyone can know Fr Bola’s whereabouts and the identity of those who are holding him.

The press has also reported that the missionary was involved in an argument with a drug dealer, a certain Eric Akyatan, a resident of Balingasag, who is being investigated by the Misamis Oriental police.

Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar Moreno announced the creation of an inter-agency team and is looking into the possibility of setting up a “National Watch” to look for Fr Bola.

The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro is also involved in the search of the missing missionary in conjunction with some Scalabrinian fathers whop have come from Cebu City for the emergency, this according to Mgr Elmer Abacahin, spokesman for the archdiocese.