27 crew members of cargo ship repel gunmen in motorboats in Basilan
ZAMBOANGA CITY — Presence of mind and the will to escape harm saved a 27 crew members of a cargo ship from attacking gunmen off the coast of Basilan, authorities said Saturday.
MV Kudos 1 was sailing between Coco and Sibago islands when about a dozen armed men on three motorboats tried to board it in an apparent attempt at hijacking the vessel and kidnapping its crew, according to Capt. Joe Orbe, the commander of Joint Task Force 61 of the Naval Forces in Western Mindanao
Orbe said the ship’s captain, Chris Paul Maglimat, managed to send a distress signal even as he directed his crew to maneuver and try to evade the attackers.
Ronald Pabitay, the deck helmsman, said the men on one of the boats had managed to throw a rope onto the deck as they were trying to evade them.
“We switched off all the boat’s lights and we crawled near the location where their rope landed,” Pabitay said. “When our men heard someone trying to climb, we splashed hot water mixed with oil [on the men].”
The armed men, apparently surprised by the hot water and oil combination got mad and starting shooting at them.
They hit the glass windows of the boat and their bullets pierced the hull.
Pabitay said the men only stopped shooting when they heard the sound of helicopters and motorboats approaching.
The armed men sped and disappeared into the darkness, he said.
One of the crew members suffered minor injuries but not from bullets fired by the suspects, Lt. Cmdr. Alvin Dagalea of the local Coast Guard said.
“He got his injury from crawling over shattered window glass and not from bullets,” Dagalea said.
Orbe said the Navy was able to respond in 10 minutes time and their presence in the area also helped foil the attack.
But he credited the determination of the crew to resist for the failure of the armed men to board the ship.
“The presence of mind among crew members is also one factor that deterred the piracy and kidnapping attempt at sea. They could have taken the 27 crew members,” Orbe said. /atm