Two Malaysian shipping vessels allegedly seized by a group of pirate syndicate were discovered by the Philippine Coast Guard late afternoon Wednesday along Sarangani Bay.
Coast Guard Spokesman Lieutenant Commander Armando Balilo said that the Coast Guard Station-General Santos which is under the PCG-South Eastern Mindanao District of Commodore Lino Dabi discovered two unidentified vessels near Port Kiamba in Sarangani while conducting seaborne patrol.
When the Coast Guard GenSan personnel approached the two vessels, composed of a tugboat and a barge, they immediately verified the identity of these vessels and found out that the two were actually similar to the MT Atlantic-3 and Barge Atlantic-5, both Malaysian-flagged shipping vessels which were recently hijacked somewhere within the territorial waters of Indonesia by a group of pirate syndicate allegedly based in Southern Philippines.
“The Coast Guard GenSan were just conducting seaborne patrol operations along Sarangani Bay when they noticed two suspicious shipping vessels which were unfamiliar and new to them, kasi mukhang bagong dating lang sa lugar. When they saw that the crew members of both vessels were conducting operations which were quite unusual in their eyes, agad-agad na sinita sila ng mga tao namin,” Lt. Cmdr. Balilo said.
The Coast Guard spokesman pointed out that according to Commodore Dabi, his men noticed that the crew members of both vessels that time were apparently changing the appearance of both vessels by painting and changing their names.
Commodore Dabi said that his men noticed that apparently “pinapalitan ng mga crew members ng pangalan at kulay ‘yung dalawang barko, pero kita pa ‘yung lumang pangalan at mukhang kasisimula pa lang nilang pintahan kaya napansin agad ito ng mga tao natin,” Balilo added.
Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo had already reported the incident to the Regional Cooperation Against Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea (ReCAAP) in Singapore while the arrested crew members were brought to a police station in Sarangani for further investigation.