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Piracy In Sulu Sea Affects ARMM International Trade And May Setback Peace Process

  Feb 23, 2017    

(Polloc Port, Parang, Maguindanao, February 23, 2017). Piratical attacks in the Sulu Sea have began to affect international trade in Polloc Port that serves as the main gateway for international trade in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
 
According to ARMM Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) chairman Ishak Mastura reports have reached their office from the port management and ARMM investors that international shipping to Polloc has been put on hold due to piracy in the Sulu Sea. 
 
"While we mourn the tragic loss of life and empathize with those abducted, 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," Mastura said in reaction to the latest piracy incident. 
 
The latest piratical attack which happened this week was on a Vietnamese ship headed for Polloc Port. The bulk carrier Giang Hai was attacked by armed pirates in the Sulu Sea 20 nautical miles north off Pearl Bank in Tawi-Tawi province, which is part of ARMM. 
 
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, Reuters reports. 
 
Hexan Mabang, Port Manager of Polloc Port, said this latest act of piracy was what prompted several shipments of cement and other cargo to be suspended as shippers refused to charter vessels passing thru the Sulu Sea headed for Polloc Port and other Ports in Mindanao.
 
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.
 
Meanwhile Haron Bandila of the ARMM Business Council is worried about the effect of the piracy in the Sulu Sea to the ongoing peace process. He noted that the main peace process involves the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF which is based in Central Mindanao and whose leadership and forces are composed mostly of the Maguindanaon tribe. 
 
On the other hand the pirates in the Sulu Sea are from the Sulu archipelago composed of the Tausug and other island tribes distinct from the Maguindanaons.
 
"I am afraid that talking with just the MILF cannot resolve the piracy in the Sulu Sea. The MILF leadership and following are not Tausugs so how can they understand what the Tausug pirates want and bring them to the fold of the peace process?" Bandila remarked.
 
"We hope that the increasing piratical raids in the Sulu Sea including the abductions of sailors do not become a severe setback to the peace process, because it seems the peace process cannot address such security risks like this piracy" he added. (Source:RBOI)