12 Malaysians rescued by Philippine Marines along Moro Gulf

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 August) — Twelve Malaysian nationals were rescued Tuesday afternoon by joint forces of  the Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT 1) and Civilian Auxiliary Forces Geographical Unit of the Army’s 38th Infantry Battalion near the shores of Barangay Pura, Datu Blah, Sinsuat town in Maguindanao.

MBLT 1 executive officer Lt. Col. Chute Adecer said they were informed by fisherfolk in the  village facing the Moro Gulf, about strangers being carried by the waves,  shouting for help.

Adecer said they immediately conducted search and rescue operations.

The first two rescued victims said they were actually 12 “so we continued to find them” and that all 12 have been accounted for, Adecer told MindaNews.

In the initial investigations conducted by the Marines, the Malaysians told them that their ship was hijacked by pirates on July 29.

The pirates allegedly commanded them to jump out.

It is not clear from the reports what the Malaysian nationals’ nature of employment is although based on initial reports, they do not appear to be fisherfolk.

Maj. Gen. Ray Ardo, chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told MindaNews  that  he is still waiting for a more detailed report. But initial reports he received said that at around 3:40 p.m. Tuesday, personnel from the Pura Detachment of the 38th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Pura, Datu Blah Sinsuat led by Cpl. Baylon and personnel from the 51 Marine Company rescued 12 Malaysian nationals from two vessels namely Woodman 38 and Woodman 39, who had allegedly left the port of Miri in Sarawak, Malaysia on July 24.

Ardo said the report added that the Malaysians claimed to have been captured by suspected pirates on their way to Indonesia to get their cargo to be delivered to Davao at around 8:30 p.m. on July 29 but were allegedly thrown overboard by the pirates.

The report did not indicate where the two vessels were seized, how many were the persons on board, what the cargo was.

The local government of Datu Blah Sinsuat town is taking care of the rescued Malaysians.

Town officials and the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and MBLT 1 are set to turn over the rescued individuals to the members of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) which is headed by Malaysia. The IMT, based in Cotabato City, works as peace monitors on the ongoing peace process between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (with reports from Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)