SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Maritime units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Zamboanga City area stepped up theiroperations to scour the waters off Basilan island after a foiled hijacking of a local cargo vessel last Friday.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), said a distress call was received from government agencies seeking assistance over an attempt to seajack marine vessel MV Kudos, a Philippine flagged cargo vessel at the vicinity of Coco and Sibago Islands in Basilan.
The WestMinCom immediately activated the Anti-Kidnaping Joint Task Force under Rear Admiral Rene Medina, commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao, who deployed five Navy vessels with elements toward the targeted area.
Similarly, Capt. Ronnie Gil Gavan, commander of the Philippine Coast Guard Southwestern District dispatched two of its watercrafts as augmentation.
“We immediately alerted all units and deployed our assets to thwart the attack on MV Kudos on Sibago,” said Rear Admiral Medina.
Meanwhile, two aircraft were dispatched by the Philippine Air Force to conduct aerial survey and patrol.
At about 11:25p.m. on Friday, the troops, with Coast Guard personnel, established radio contact with the crew of MV Kudos and Navy troops aboard fast crafts promptly conducted maritime ban and counter action operations at the reported location.
The Philippine Coast Guard personnel provided medical assistance and first aid to some crew who suffered minor bruises from broken objects when the armed group fired upon them in the attempt to seize the vessel.
No one among the crew of MV Kudos was abducted.
“We were pleased that the crew did not lose their presence of mind. Their raw courage enabled them to pour hot water on the pirates who were attempting to climb the vessel,” said Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., WestMinCom commander.