Suspect in Zambo fishermen’s slay arrested
Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - January 12, 2017 - 12:00am

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Police have arrested one of the suspects behind the execution of eight local fishermen at sea here last Tuesday.

Arrested was Midzfar Yuno Nuño, 32, of this city’s Barangay Sangali, according to Chief Insp. Ramon Bautista, commander of the Zamboanga City police station 2.

Bautista said Nuño was nabbed early Tuesday night in his house after the police received information from witnesses and the personal accounts of a survivor.

“The suspect is notorious and among the suspects extorting from fishermen in the area,” Bautista said.

Another man was also invited yesterday for questioning, according to Bautista.

Police also seized illegal drugs and explosives from Nuño, who was charged with possession of illegal drugs and explosives.

Nuño is detained at Zamboanga City police station 3 based in Barangay Sangali.

The suspect denied involvement in the killings of the eight fishermen and claimed that he was at home and had not gone out to sea.

Bautista, however, said investigation disclosed that prior to the massacre of eight fishermen off Siromon Island near Barangay Dita, the group of Nuño reportedly hijacked another fishing boat and extorted money from the fishermen.

He said the incident occurred about an hour before the same group intercepted the other fishing boat and executed eight fishermen while seven others managed to escape.

The remains of the fishermen – their hands tied and with gunshot wounds in different parts of their bodies – were recovered on board their fishing boat.

Bautista said the arrest of Nuño would lead the police to the arrest of the remaining suspects.

He said extortion and revenge are the possible motives of the suspects after two of their gang members were killed during a police operation last November following reports of fishermen being victimized by an extortion gang.

The police said the suspects operated in the vicinity of Zamboanga City and extort monthly protection money and a share of the catch from the crew of both small and large fishing boats.

Security strengthened

 Meanwhile, security operations in the Sulu Sea will be strengthened to address the spate of attacks and kidnapping cases at sea when security forces from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines meet next week, security officials revealed.

The discussion for the specified security tasks of the three nations came with the latest declaration of the International Maritime Bureau that the Sulu Sea between eastern Malaysia and the Philippines has become dangerous for merchant shipping due to kidnapping threats from the Abu Sayyaf and pirates linked with the militants.

The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia last year forged a tripartite agreement to strengthen security to address the spate of cross-border kidnappings and attacks of merchants at sea.

But the roles of the security forces of the participating countries were not specified, said Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman for Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom). 

Tan said Westmincom had already done their part in securing the Sulu Sea but measures have to be intensified with the increasing attacks largely blamed on groups linked with the Abu Sayyaf.

He said that more patrol boats would be deployed to secure the vast coastline of the city.

Tan said the tripartite discussion next week would focus on the role of each country and its specific task in helping address the threats.

“The discussion will set roles and tasking and make the task more specific for each country,” Tan said.

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