The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) joined the nation in appealing for the safe and immediate release of 79 -year old Irish priest Fr. Michael Sinnott as his abduction dampens the cause of persons with disabilities (PWDs) especially in helping the PWDs lead meaningful lives through productive employment or livelihood.
Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the DOLE agencies and personnel particularly those based in Pagadian City where Fr. Sinnot is also based as a member of the Missionary Society of St. Columban in this city, are extremely disheartened by his abduction.
Roque said Fr. Sinnot is a staunch advocate of PWDs' welfare having established the Hangop Kabataan Foundation, Inc. in Pagadian which assists physically challenged children and young adults, especially those with hearing and learning difficulties, gain the capability to rise from their disabilities and lead productive lives through the provision of community-based rehabilitation program and employment or livelihood assistance.
The DOLE also invests on the welfare and rehabilitation of the PWDs to build their capabilities for a productive re-entry into the economic mainstream.
Sec Roque received a report from the DOLE field office in Pagadian on the priest's active support of the TULAY or the Tulong Alalay sa mga Taong may Kapansanan, a program of DOLE that provides employment and livelihood facilitation services including skills training and upgrading to PWDs.
Fr. Sinnot, he said, had partnered with the DOLE in numerous TULAY activities in Pagadian, noting that the abduction of the priest, given his old age and delicate heart condition, poses a threat to his life and consequently the existence of Hangop Kabataan and his advocacy for the welfare of PWDs.
":Fr. Sinnot is Hangop Kabataan. Without him, the foundation and its assistance to PWDs would be adversely weakened," Roque said.
"In behalf of the PWDs especially the wards of Hangop Kabataan, we in the DOLE appeal to the abductors of Fr. Sinnot to free and spare him from further inconveniences of captivity that can lead to a deterioration of his health, putting his life at great risk."
Fr. Sinnott is an Irish priest of the Missionaries of St. Columban. He has been in the Philippines since the 1980s. He founded and served as coordinator of the Hangop Kabataan in 2008, a dwelling place for both Muslim and Christian children who need special attention. Despite his old age and his problematic heart condition, Fr Sinnott is known for being energetic and consistently attentive in all of his undertakings. He was abducted by unidentified men Sunday evening while strolling at the compound of Missionary Society of St. Columban in Pagadian City.