By Nonoy Lacson
Suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf group have failed to seajack a cargo vessel on Tuesday morning, off the coast of Liloy and Siocon in Zamboanga del Norte after government troops immediately responded to a distress call of the cargo ship.
Armed men on board three motorized pumpboats were attempting to board the vessel, prompting the crew to call for help.
Armed Forces of the Philippines – Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) Commander Lt. Gen. Carlito G Galvez Jr, said Wednesday that Philippine Navy boats and Airforce helicopters immediately deployed in the seas of Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte were able to foil the ASG attempt to seajack a cargo vessel at around 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
Galvez identified the cargo vessel as MV Anabelle with 21 crew members and loaded with bags of cement navigating the sea waters off Siocon from Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte enroute to Zamboanga City.
According to Galvez, the boat captain gave a distress call and reported that three motorized boats with undetermined number of armed men on board.
The Western Mindanao Command through the Naval Forces Western Mindanao immediately directed all naval ships patrolling the area to proceed to the last reported location of MV Anabelle, while two Philippine Air Force helicopters were also deployed to fly over the said area.
The captain of said cargo vessel said the pursuing motorized boats immediately left the area upon sensing the arrival of the navy ships and the helicopters, Galvez said.
MV Anabelle was then escorted by Navy Patrol Craft 395 to Zamboanga City while continuously being monitored by the Littoral Monitoring Station Pilas until it was able to dock safely in Zamboanga City.
“Our naval assets are all ready to render necessary assistance to deter seajacking and abduction at seas,” Rear Adm. Rene V. Medina, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao told newsmen in Zamboanga City.