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Navy to secure tourists in Boracay

Friday, April 17, 2009 [ sunstar.com.ph ]

THE Philippine Navy has deployed two of its ships to secure thousands of local and foreign tourists who are expected to the favorite tourist spot Boracay island in Aklan Province during the summer.

Navy spokesman Salvador Sambalilo said BRP Bienvido Salting and BRP Abraham Campo are now stationed at Caticlan Jetty Port and Passenger Terminal in Malay, Aklan. They are under the operational control of the Naval Forces Central based in Cebu.

"They are supported by a team of Naval Special Operations Unit 5 belonging to the Navy's elite unit equivalent to the SEAL Team of the US Navy which caught the attention of the public in a recent rescue operation of a hostage drama in pirate infested sea lanes of Somalia," said Sambalilo.

"The Philippine Navy sent the two naval ships to Boracay Island, Aklan to ensure the security and safety of tourists during the vacation season... They are now guarding the waters of Boracay since March and are constantly on alert especially during the Lenten season," he added.

Sambalilo did not say if there is a threat to the security of the tourists that prompted the deployment of the Navy ships.

In 2000, Abu Sayyaf bandits swooped down on the Sipadan diving resort in Malaysia and seized 21 mostly Caucasian hostages. The hostages were later brought to Sulu and were later released by their captors after payment of ransom.

The following year, the Abu Sayyaf struck at the posh Dos Palmas resort in Puerto Princesa City and held 20 hostages, including three Americans, and brought to Basilan. One of three Americans, Guillermo Sobero, was beheaded by the bandits.

"The assignment of the ships to this popular tourist destination is in anticipation of the summer vacation where thousands of tourists are expected annually. This is to show to our local and foreign tourists that the government is determined in safeguarding and securing the peace and prosperity not only in the Island of Boracay but in the entire maritime resource of the country," said Sambalilo. (VR/Sunnex)

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