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12 Asian seafarers left adrift by pirates rescued off Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Maguindanao fishermen on Tuesday rescued 12 foreign seafarers set adrift by pirates who seized their cargo vessels while the two boats were sailing in convoy from Malaysia to pick cargo in Davao City, authorities said Wednesday.

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Major Chute Adecer, executive officer of the Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT-1), said the seafarers—six Malaysians, five Indonesians and a Burmese—were rescued off the town of Datu Blah Sinsuat in Maguindao seven days after pirates seized the cargo vessels Woodman 38 and Woodman 39.

The vessels were on their way from Miri in Sarawak, Malaysia, to pick up cargo in Davao City.

“They are being documented in Datu Blah Sinsuat before they will be turned over to concerned government agencies,” Adecer said.

Colonel Alex Balutan, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, said the seamen told them they were attacked by pirates on July 24 while sailing to Davao City.

“They were on board the two vessels named Woodman 38 and Woodman 39 and were traveling in convoy when they were attacked by pirates,” Balutan said.

He identified the rescued seafarers as Camroni Umur, Kyan Dpho Loin, Tie Sieng Huang, Marthen Lukas, Aris Ariynto, Runji Bin Chew, Rate Jusuf, Fredy Nak Nain, Razali Bin Mok, Inyoman Buda Artha and two others named Mukli and Sutomo.

“They claimed that their vessels were taken by the pirates and they were forced to jump overboard,” Balutan said.

Col. Prudencio Asto, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the foreign seafarers were briefly taken hostage by the pirates.

“When their captors learned that Malaysian authorities were looking for them, they were ordered to jump off the boats,” Asto said.

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Balutan said that before the pirates sailed away, they threw two inflatable rafts into the sea, which the sailors paddled toward Maguindanao.

He said that on Tuesday, Datu Blah Sinsuat fishermen saw the two life rafts around 2 p.m. and towed them, using motorized bancas, to shore in Barangay (village) Pura.

Village officials then notified the Marines and Army soldiers stationed in the town.

Balutan said the Marines later took the sailors to the Datu Blah Sinsuat town hall for processing.—With a report from Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Maguindanao, Malaysian nationals, Philippine Army, pirates
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