PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 13, 2011) – An American tourist who was reported missing and feared kidnapped in the southern Philippines has been freed Wednesday in Mindanao, officials said.
Officials said the 64-year old Milton Taylor was first reported missing in January 11 after he failed to return to his hotel room in Cagayan de Oro City. The Ohio-native, who arrived in Cagayan de Oro in December, was allegedly hunting for treasure when he went missing.
“Milton Taylor was safely released near the boundary of Piagapo town and Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province through the efforts of the provincial police efforts in coordination with the local government, the military and nongovernmental organizations,” Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a regional army spokesman, said without further details.
But local authorities initially suspected that Taylor went into hiding or had staged his own kidnapping after failing to pay his huge hotel bills. In his room, Taylor left his passport and other personal things, officials said.
“Initial military reports suggested it was a case of ‘kidnap me’ after Taylor acquired huge hotel debts and other debts from people he was working on this treasure hunting activities,” said an army official, who cannot be identified because he was not authorized to speak to media about the case.
Federal agents were also working closely with the local police to track down Taylor until news of his release broke out late Wednesday afternoon. There was no immediate statement from the US embassy in Manila about Taylor nor his mysterious disappearance.