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Piracy halts vital ARMM port

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The usually robust port serving as an international gateway to and from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has been immobilized due recent attacks by pirates on international cargo ships.

According to Polloc Port manager Hexan Mabang, maritime trade has come to a standstill after pirates waylaid several cement and cargo vessels along the Sulu Sea.

ARMM Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) chair Ishak Mastura noted that the recent attack on a Vietnamese ship headed to Polloc Port was more like the last straw that forced companies to defer operation.

“We are deeply concerned that the bane of piracy in the Sulu Sea has affected our international trade leading to revenue losses for the ARMM regional government, which owns and operates Polloc Port,” said Mastura.

The bulk carrier Giang Hai was attacked by ASG in the Sulu Sea, about 20 nautical miles north of Pearl Bank in Tawi-Tawi province, which is part of ARMM.

Mastura said the vessel was carrying 4,500 tons of cement from Indonesia destined for Polloc Port, when it was approached by motor boat with heavily armed men, who tried to cross the route of the vessel.

One crew member was killed seven crew members were abducted who were Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Dutch, German and Japanese nationals.

Seventeen of the 25-person crew were rescued by the Philippines Coast Guard, which then pursued the attackers.

Christopher Lu a local investor registered with RBOI-ARMM who was expecting a cargo shipment of wood chips and sundry bulk cargo from Malaysia and Indonesia said that their shipper refused to proceed after learning of the latest attack. (NONOY E. LACSON)

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