Government troops foiled an attempt by gunmen onboard three motorized boats to hijack a cargo ship off Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), said the cargo vessel MV Anabelle was plying the sea waters off Siocon from Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte enroute to Zamboanga City on Tuesday morning when its crew noticed three motorized boats with undetermined number of armed men about to board their vessel.
The captain immediately radioed for help.
The WestMinCom, through the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, immediately ordered all naval vessels patrolling the area to proceed to the last reported location of MV Anabelle, while two Philippine Air Force helicopters were deployed to fly over the area.
The captain of MV Anabelle said the pursuing motorized boats immediately fled the area upon sensing the arrival of the Navy ships and the helicopters.
The cargo vessel with 21 crew, was then escorted by Navy Patrol Craft 395 to Zamboanga City while the Littoral Monitoring Station Pilas continued to monitor its course until it was able to dock safely.
“Our naval assets are all ready to render necessary assistance to deter hijacking and abduction at sea,” said Rear Admiral Rene Medina, commander of the naval forces in Western Mindanao.
Last February 22, Petinglay said, Navy ships thwarted an attempt by suspected Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists to hijack the Vietnamese cargo ship MV Dong Hae Star off Tawi-Tawi province near the Sabah border.
The bandits immediately aborted their plan upon sensing the arrival of the naval ships and air assets.
“The moment we receive calls for help, WestMinCom will be fast on our tracks to foil any attempt of terrorism or piracy,” Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., WestMinCom commander, said.
“Our sailors plying these waters should be vigilant all the time since these threats are always present. It is only when all of us will do our share of fighting this common enemy that we will surely defeat and disallow the bandits to continue sowing fear and terror in our seas and our communities,” he added.