ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/21 July) –Day 1 of the “At Sea Events” of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao’s Exercise “Pagsasama” 2013 on Saturday turned into an actual rescue operation as the participants rescued 38 local tourists who were stranded at the Greater Sta. Cruz Island due to inclement weather.
Among those rescued were two infants and eight Philippine Army personnel, NFWM commander Rear Admiral Isabelo Gador said in a statement on Sunday.
Pagsasama’s “At Sea Events” Day 1 consisted of the Maritime Interdiction Operation Exercise (MIOEX), Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX), and Gunnery Exercise (GUNNEX).
Gador immediately ordered the deployment of the two Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPACs) “to respond to the situation” after he received reports that local tourists were stranded at the Greater Sta. Cruz Island.
The Greater Sta. Cruz Island, approximately located 1.9 nautical miles south of this city, is a favorite picnic ground both for local and foreign tourists since its beach is known for its pinkish sand.
“The supposed simulation of conducting search and rescue turned into actual rescue operations,” Gador added.
The local tourists were stranded after the Coast Guard suspended Saturday the voyage of all vessels in this city due to inclement weather brought about by the Low Pressure Area (LPA) that hit Mindanao.
Day 2 of the “At Sea Events” culminated Sunday with the Amphibious Operations and Civil-Military Operations activities.
Exercise Pagsasama, which started July 17 and ends July 22, is designed to test the readiness and interoperability of Western Mindanao PN Reservists and PN Affiliate Reserved Units (PNARUs) with the PN regular force in case of national emergencies. (MindaNews)