Lloyd Van Vactor, the United Church of Christ missionary on the Phillippine island of Mindanao who was kidnapped March 9, was released thinner but unharmed two-and-a-half weeks later. His abductors were Moros—Muslin Filipinos—who had demanded about $68,000 in ransom, which the UCC said it would not pay.

Van Vactor is president of Dansalan Junior College in Marawi City, a school started in 1950 to continue the work begun by literacy expert Frank Laubach and whose student body is 95 percent Moro. Moro faculty at Dansalan, other area Moro leaders, and Libyan Ambassador Mustapha Driza negotiated the release without ransom.

Only after his release did Van Vactor learn that his wife, Maisie, had suffered an intestinal obstruction and undergone emergency surgery, then had developed cardiac complications and died during his captivity.

The Moros have pressed their demands for autonomy for more than a century under Spanish, American, and national Phillippine administrations. President Ferdinand Marco’s efforts to pacify the Moros have failed as have previous attempts—a situation Marcos blames on agitation from Arab nations.

Van Vactor’s abduction was the third by Moros in the last several years. The others kidnapped were British Wycliffe Bible translator Eunice Diment, in 1976, and a Japanese tour guide. The effect on missionary activity in the area of unrest, centered on Zamboanga City, has been to withdraw workers from more exposed outlying areas and cluster them in population centers. Besides the UCC and Wycliffe, the Christian and Missionary Alliance is active in the area.

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