8 killed in two separate piracy incidents in Zamboanga del Sur

March 30, 2010 10:24 pm 

MANILA, March 30 — Eight persons were killed while six others were injured in two separate clashes with pirates off Zamboanga del Sur, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Tuesday.

Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, PCG commandant, said four fishermen were reported missing and the PCG joined the search and rescue operation of the government authorities.

The PCG is conducting investigation and determining if the Filipino pirates are working in connivance with foreign counterparts.

Reports said that five of the eight fatalities were fishermen. The other fatalities were said to be pirates.

Reports reaching the PCG headquarters in Manila revealed that the first incident occurred near the municipality of Pitogo, Zamboanga last March 24.

The fishermen were on a fishing expedition on board the fishing banca F/B Jayhalyn when encountered by armed sea pirates riding on three motorized pump boats.

Reports said the fishermen were some 10 meters away when the pirates reportedly strafed the fishing boat.

Killed in the incident was a certain Bogard Pacquiao, 26. His unnamed companions were injured and another one remained missing.

The injured fishermen were taken to the provincial General Hospital, Pagadian City.

However, Edgar Serana, died at the hospital.

The second incident occurred in Payao Structure near Pagadian last Saturday. Two fishermen who escaped from the hands of the armed pirates reported the incident to the PCG.

They reportedly left Pagadian City aboard two fishing bancas F/B Don Mars and F/B Jaya 1.

Upon reaching the Payao Structure, they spotted three unmarked motor pumpboats with approximately three armed men on each boat, or a total of nine persons.

Sensing that they were pirates, the fishermen avoided them. But the pirates reportedly fired warning shots causing them to stop fleeing.

The armed men told the fishermen to turn over fish catch for the day.

The fishermen said they have yet to catch any, the pirates approached them and boarded their fishing boats.

They proceeded to the vicinity of Payao structure where they spotted two other watercraft, the motorized pump boat Ja1 1 and an unmarked fishing boat.

A shootout ensued between the armed men and the caretakers of the Payao structure and this resulted to the killing of three pirates.

The four other pirates fled. Three of the fishermen reportedly also died.

Two of the fishermen managed to swim to safety but four others were missing.

Lieutenant Commander Arman Balilo, PCG spokesman, said pirates have already evolved as they do not only resort to robbery but expanded their activities to kidnapping for ransom.

“They demanded ransom in exchange for the release of the victims,” he said.

Last November, nine armed pirates seized the M/T Marinero, which was towing the barge Salvmar-II in the vicinity of Siocon Bay, Zamboanga del Norte.

They abducted the ship captains, chief mate and chief engineer and took away the ship’s communication equipment.

Just last March 16, a Malaysian fishing trawler with its six crewmembers was reportedly hijacked by at least four armed men and brought to Tawi Tawi.

The suspects demanded P150,000 ransom. The PCG learned that the ship owner paid P50,000.

He said the PCG is still undermanned, numbering less than 6,000.

Balilo said they are now coordinating with other concerned government agencies such as the maritime police and the local government units to secure the country’s 37,000-kilometer coastline. (PNA)

DCT/JES

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