Will you agree with IHS Markit’s report that the seas around the Philippines were the most pirated, followed by Nigeria and India?
Let’s deliberate on piracy, a dreadful security issue affecting our Filipino seafarers today.
The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) revealed that most pirate attacks in the Sulu-Celebes Sea and eastern Sabah region are claimed by the terrorist group of the Philippines Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Since March 2016, there have been 11 incidents with nine actual incidents and two attempted incidents of abduction of crew from ships while underway in the said region.
The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is the most violent of the Islamic separatist groups operating in the southern Philippines and claims to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. Split from the Moro National Liberation Front in the early 1990s, the group currently engages in kidnappings for ransom, bombings, assassinations, and extortion, and has had ties to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). – Nat’l Counter Terrorism Center
Earlier this week, pirates botched 8 helpless fishing crewmen 42 kilometers east of Zamboanga City Island.
The police said the fishing boat was on its way back to Sangali from Sibatuk Island when five gunmen aboard two motorboats locally knows as ‘jungkung’ accosted them, taking their cash and valuables, including mobile phones, and then opening fire. – Reuters
The Southern Philippine waterways are pirate infested. There’s legacy of lawlessness by militant groups like the Abu Sayyaf particularly in Sulu Sea.
During the 10th ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting held in Laos last Nov. 2016, Malaysia warned other participating countries that Sulu Sea should not become the ‘new Somalia’. Consequently, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Manila agreed to conduct joint maritime and air patrols to combat pirates.
However, none of the three nations are strong at maritime policing or naval capability. The Philippines is by far the weakest link and the security situation in Mindanao is deteriorating, not improving, a CNBC.com verbatim report says, in reference to National War College Prof. Zachary Abuza’s statement.
The ReCAAP ISC advises all ships to re-route from the area. If not possible however, ship masters and crew are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area and report immediately to the following Centres:
- Operation Centre in the Philippine Coast Guard District Southwestern Mindanao for monitoring and immediate responses in any eventualities. (Sat phones: +63 929686 4129/+63 916626 0689, VHF: Channel 16 with callsign “ENVY”, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) when transiting nearer to eastern Sabah. (Tel: +60 89863181/016, Fax: +60 89863182,VHF: Channel 16 with call-sign “ESSCOM”, Email: email@example.com)
Furthermore, shipping industry is advised to adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the “Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia”.
What are your thoughts about the rise of ‘New Somalia’ in Southern Philippines? Share your thoughts by writing a comment below.