PCG bares new 'modus operandi' of sea pirates

May 24, 2010 8:06 pm 

MANILA, May 24 –Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant, said there is need for cooperation among neighboring countries in a bid to address sea piracy following the discovery of a new modus operandi.

Tamayo said the new modus operandi of sea pirates involves the seizure of vessels plying international routes and then sell them as “different” ships to buyers.

The new modus operandi was uncovered with the arrest of seven Indonesians who are now detained in General Santos City.

The PCG commandant said the case involving the arrest of Indonesia would serve as test case for a piracy case.

“Before we only filed armed robbery cases because pirates would only board vessels to take valuables and then leave the ships,” he said.

Tamayo said the sea pirates now resort to seizing of the entire ship.

He said they stepped up efforts in gathering intelligence information and are now framing measures to understand the pattern used in the modus operandi and counter the pirates’ illegal activities.

The PCG chief recorded three incidents, wherein foreign ships and their crews that travel along international waters would be abducted by pirates and brought them somewhere like in Mindanao.

Tamayo said the first incident involved the M/T Asta which was seized by pirates last Feb. 7. The pirates reportedly renamed M/T Asta as Roxy-1, which was later found in Surigao del Norte.

Last April 27, sea pirates seized the Malaysian tugboat called Atlantic 3 that was towing the barge “Atlantic 5.”

Atlantic 3 was renamed into Marlin VII. The tugboat and the barge were later traced to General Santos City.

In almost all incidents, Tamayo said the pirates would subsequently release the ships crew after seizing the vessels. The crews would be allowed to board a life raft near the Spratly Islands.

He also said piracies usually being carried out at night.

“In order to avoid detection, pirates would rename the tugboats or vessels,” he said.

After defacing the name tags of the vessels, the pirates would sell it to prospective buyers reportedly in the Philippines.

“So we are calling on cooperation among neighboring countries to stop piracy. This adversely affects our local shipbuilding industry,” he said.

Tugboats are being sold legally for about P20 million.

Tamayo said he would bring this matter to neighboring countries and initiate efforts to strengthen the ties.

“There is need to establish closer monitoring and information sharing with neighboring Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),” he said.

Tamayo called on neighboring countries to report similar incidents in their respective countries to Singapore-based Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia-Information Sharing Center (RECAAP-ISC).

He said the Office of Transportation Security (OTS), Philippine Navy (PN), Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-Marig), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) were asked to extend help to PCG. (PNA) RMA/JES

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