Government troops rescued 12 Malaysian, Indonesian, and Myanmar nationals in seawaters off Maguindanao, after the foreigners were allegedly thrown off their boats by pirates, military officials said.

Members of the 38th Infantry Battalion and Marines rescued the foreigners off Datu Blah Sinsuat town past 3 p.m. Monday after seeing them floating in the sea, Col. Prudencio Asto, public affairs chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said.

“Lulutang-lutang sila sa dagat, nakita ng mga tropa natin na nasa taas ng bundok, so ni-rescue nila,” Asto said in a phone interview.

Col. Alexander Balutan, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, identified the foreigners as boat captain Zamroni Umur, Kyan Dpho Loin, Tie Sieng Huang, Marthen Lukas, Aris Ariynto, Runji Bin Chew, Rate Jusuf, Fredy Nak Nain, Razali Bin Mok, Inyoman Buda Artha, one S. Sutomo, and a certain Mulki.

The foreigners told troops that they left the Port of Miri in Sarawak, Malaysia, on July 24 on board the vessels Woodman 38 and Woodman 39.

Pirates, allegedly of Indonesian origin, seized the vessels on July 27 and told the crew to abandon ship on July 30, Balutan said.

“They (crew) were put into a life raft and thrown to the Celebes Sea. A Marine company then observed the floating persons 3 miles from their command post hence the rescue,” he said.

Following their rescue, the foreigners were harbored by troops in Datu Blah Sinsuat and turned over to immigration authorities in Cotabato City yesterday. (John Roson)

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