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Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Philippines 37 3 Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Philippines Eduardo Ma R. Santos Introduction Southeast Asia, with its complex littoral regions where the mixture of overlapping jurisdictions, thousands of miles of coastlines, and a challenging environment, has provided a fertile area for the growth of transnational threats like terrorism, human and drug trafficking, and piracy. The Philippines is not spared from these threats to the maritime security of the region. In fact, the country’s situation is compounded even more by the unresolved disputes in the South China Sea. This chapter will focus on piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Philippines, which for the past twelve years have victimized approximately 4,000 persons and 1,500 vessels and have seized hundreds of million pesos in properties. As such, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) continues to list the Philippines as an area prone to piracy and armed robbery against ships. The IMB definition of piracy and armed robbery as “an act of boarding or attempting to board any ship with the apparent intent to commit theft or any other crime and with the apparent intent or capability to use force in the furtherance of that act” is adopted in this chapter. This definition thus covers actual attacks whether the ship 03 PMaritime Terrorism Ch 3 9/28/06, 2:22 PM 37 38 Eduardo Ma R. Santos is berthed, at anchor or at sea. Petty thefts are excluded unless the thieves are armed. As it will be shown, piracy significantly affects the Philippines’ maritime shipping and fishing industries, considered to be significant sectors of the country’s economy. The Philippines, being an archipelagic country, depends on its sea routes as the primary economic links within and without the country and the maritime shipping industry plays a vital role as the country’s primary conduit for trade and commerce. Rampant piracy could pose a disruption along these links, which could have severe economic repercussions for the country or and further exacerbate the already critical national economic situation. Factors and Trends, 1993–2004 Factors The country’s problem of piracy and armed robbery is more complex since they are motivated by a number of factors. These factors, whether taken separately or in combination, contribute significantly to their prevalence, especially of piracy. Among these are the following: 1. Historically, piracy has long been practised along the country’s southern waters as a legitimate means of livelihood. It has its roots from ancient times when traditional rulers resorted to piracy as an instrument of warfare. Piracy has been endemic in the Philippines for so many years. In fact, piracy was once a favoured vocation at the time of the Spanish effort to colonize Mindanao and Sulu. Piracy was Sulu’s weapon against Spanish aggression. Even worse, there are local communities where piracy is viewed as the only means of survival. These underlying economic conditions that have existed for generations helped spawn a culture of piracy. 2. The inherent littoral configuration of the country. The country is characterized by waters dotted with many small islands, coves and islets and narrow channels, which are ideal hideouts for pirates with swift motorboats. Moreover, the country’s rich fishing grounds host a number of fishing fleets that are attractive targets for pirates. 3. The current socio-economic instability that will certainly bring more economic uncertainties which in turn could force more people to resort to this relatively simple criminal activity with the prospect of high financial returns. 4. The insurgency and separatist problems has presented piracy as a viable means of raising funds for the rebels. Piracy has been 03 PMaritime Terrorism Ch 3 9/28/06, 2:22 PM 38 Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Philippines 39 especially attractive to Southern Philippine secessionist and terrorist groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) due to their ethnic affinity with seafaring and access to weapons. Moreover, the general sense of lawlessness spawned by insurgency and separatism contributes to the prevalence of piracy, particularly in the waters of the Southern Philippines. 5. In the current security milieu, there is a growing concern that terrorists may merge with pirates to carry out seaborne terrorism. Given the propensity of the MILF and the ASG to engage in piracy and their inter-relations with regional terrorist networks like the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the threat of piracy assumes a new dimension. 6. The...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9789812305909
Related ISBN
9789812304179
MARC Record
OCLC
646981209
Pages
266
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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