(via The Manila Times) ZAMBOANGA CITY: Abu Sayyaf militants raided a convent in the remote southern Philippine island province of Tawi-Tawi and killed a Catholic missionary during a kidnapping attempt, officials said Wednesday.
Fr. Rey Roda of the congregation of Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), was killed outside his convent at the compound of the Notre Dame High School, where he also served as its director, in the village of Likud Tabawan in South Ubian town late Tuesday.
Villagers tried to rescue the priest, but failed. Policemen who rushed to the school clashed with the militants who took one teacher hostage, Omar Taub.
“There was a firefight and Fr. Roda was resisting the kidnappers and he was shot and killed,” Fr. Rito Daquipil, head of the mission in Tawi-Tawi, told The Manila Times.
He said the priest’s hands were tied when his body was recovered slumped outside his convent. “We are all sad. Fr. Roda was a good man and loved by everybody. He was there doing missionary work with our Muslim brothers and sisters for the past 10 years,” Daquipil added.
Roda was praying when the gunmen, about 10 of them, armed with rifles and handguns, seized the priest and dragged him outside the chapel, Daquipil said, quoting a report from the village.
He said the body of the priest would be sent to the mission headquarters in Cotabato City.
The military launched a massive search on Wednesday to capture the attackers and rescue the teacher.
“We condemn the killing of Father Rey Roda. The Abu Sayyaf has no respect to religion and even an innocent priest is killed,” said Army Maj. Eugene Batara, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.
He said troops were searching for the hostage. “Gen. Allaga ordered troops to rescue the hostage and neutralize the terrorists,” he said, referring to the chief of the Western Mindanao Command, Lt. Gen. Nelson Allaga.
It was not the first time that the Abu Sayyaf killed a priest. In 2002, militants also kidnapped, tortured and killed Claretian priest Roel Gallardo in Basilan province, south of Zamboanga City.
In 1997, the Abu Sayyaf also assassinated a Catholic bishop, Benjamin de Jesus, in Jolo town in Sulu province. He was shot several times outside his church.
The Abu Sayyaf, which means “Bearer of the Sword,” was originally fighting for a separate Islamic state similar to Afghanistan, but resorted to banditry and kidnapping after its Libyan firebrand founder, Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, was killed in 1998 in a clash with policemen in Basilan province.
By the way, thanks to Dave in Texas for sending me this great "postcard" of Vanessa Dobos, "the Real Miss America" who has seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan. If my daughter or sister had to go out and defend Women's Rights and Press Freedom in this here World War, I would want her to have equipment like this, too.
Hey Vanessa, wanna come visit the Archipelago? We sure could use your help right about now.