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Missionary who disappeared in Mindanao is alive and well

by Santosh Digal
ICC Note: Here is some resolution to the missing priest in the Philippines .

1/15/07 Philippines For full story go to…(AsiaNews) – The Catholic missionary who disappeared last December 31 in Mindanao, southern Philippines , is alive and well, reports Vicente Emano, mayor of Cagayan de Oro (Misamis Oriental province). For the mayor, it was “almost certain” the Misamis Oriental priest was still alive and well, and not in the hands of the New People’s Army” (the armed wing of the Filipino Communist Party).

Fr Lucio Bola, 46, who is employed by the Scalabrinian seminary in the village of Pardo in Talisay (Cebu), went home for the Christmas break to spend some time with his family on Mindanao Island , near Balingasag-Misamis Oriental, on December 30. He was last seen on Balingasag’s highway, probably waiting for a bus to another town.

Emano’s statement offers some hope that there may be a positive outcome after all to the mystery that has seen local authorities and the Catholic Church involved in fruitless search so far.

The mayor is almost certain that he knows where the clergyman is based on information from sources he has refused so far to discuss.

Cagayan de Oro’s first citizen explained that the last contact with the missionary dates back only a few days, i.e. after his disappearance. In fact, he phoned the Scalabrinian seminary in Cebu ( Central Philippines ) on January 2.

Initially police and the diocese of Cagayan de Oro speculated that he might have been abducted. Then rumours began saying that the priest might have joined the rebels in Misamis Oriental, a Communist rebel stronghold.

Mayor Emano, who has close ties to the missionary’s family, has suggested looking into the background of the Bola family as a possible lead.

Fr Lucio’s brother was murdered in 1980 suspected of being a member of the Communist movement.

The Philippines ’ National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in northern Mindanao , which is in charge of the case, complained earlier that the priest’s relatives have shown little interest in cooperating with the authorities.