The Philippine Navy, through the Naval Task Group (NTG)-Tawi-Tawi, has successfully transported 15 Filipino survivors of a maritime incident from Sabah to the southern tip of the Philippines via the province of Tawi-Tawi, officials announced Wednesday.
Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr., Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) commander, said in a statement that the 15 Filipinos are residents of Tawi-Tawi who were rescued Monday by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in Bukit, Lawa-Lawa, Sabah.
Seven of the 15 Filipinos are personnel of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) while the rest are crewmen of the vessel.
Adaci said the group departed on January 6 from Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi, aboard the wooden-hulled M/L Dayang Jubaira Express bound for the municipality of Turtle Islands.
However, he said that the wooden-hulled vessel drifted and ran aground along the shore of Bukit, Lawa-Lawa after its engine conked out.
The incident transpired while the seven TESDA personnel were on the way to conduct a livelihood seminar in Turtle Islands town, which is located within the Sulu Sea at the south-western tip of the country, at the edge of the international treaty limits separating the Philippines and Malaysia.
Col. Nestor Narag, Director of the Maritime Coordinating Center-Tawi-Tawi of the Joint Task Force INDOMALPHI (Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines), immediately coordinated with his Malaysian counterpart in Tawau-Malaysia after learning from a relative of the 15 Filipinos that the MMEA rescued them in Lawa-Lawa, Sabah.
The Joint Task Force INDOMALPHI was activated in June 2017 to address cross-border security and other concerns involving the three countries that share common maritime borders.
The Malaysian authorities handed over on Monday the 15 Filipinos to Philippine counterparts represented by Narag at the maritime border of Sabah and Tawi-Tawi.
From there, the Philippine Navy vessel transported the 15 Filipinos to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, and formally turned them over Tuesday to the municipal and provincial government officials.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Romeo Racadio, Joint Task Force Taw-Tawi commander, commended the successful recovery and repatriation of the 15 individuals through the concerted efforts of concerned stakeholders including the MMEA.
Source: Philippines News Agency