According to the Philippine authorities, the crew were travelling in two cargo vessels, which took off from the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Officials said that the pirate attack occurred somewhere along the South China Sea. There has been a recent surge in the incidence of piracy in the region, although previously only the Strait of Malacca and the Strait of Singapore regions were considered as prone for pirate attacks.
Philippine fishermen had earlier spotted the sailors, who were exhausted and struggling to navigate their rafts. The naval authorities reached the spot in a short time, and evacuated the men to a nearby hospital. The officials said that the rescued crew included six Malaysians, five Indonesians, and one sailor from Myanmar. The crew told to the Philippine officials that their vessels were hijacked yesterday, on the way to the southern port city of Davao, from the Malaysian state of Sarawak.
The Philippine Navy told the media representatives that they are trying hard to locate the missing cargo vessels. The navy is currently investigating whether the armed groups operating in Mindanao has anything to do with the hijackings. Mindanao is heavily affected by insurgency, and a number of militants groups are currently active there, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Abu Sayyaf, and the New People’s Army (NPA).
The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships (ReCAAP) had warned the neighbouring nations in 2009 that piracy is increasingly becoming a serious threat in the region. Recently the South China Sea was named as one of the top ten piracy affected regions in the world. Most of the pirates belong to Malaysia and Indonesia. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre has informed the media that at least eight pirate attacks have occurred in the region, during the last 15 days.