A Filipino pirate leader and one of his men were killed following a clash with a combined team of soldiers and policemen in a remote area in Libangan town in Zamboanga del Sur, southern Philippines, the Philippine military said Thursday.
Army spokesman Ernesto Torres said the government forces clashed with the pirates, headed by a certain Camel Lao, alias Ruben, resulting in the killing of Lao and one of his men. Not a single soldier or policeman was killed or wounded in the clash.
Government forces have been deployed to pursue the remnants of the pirate group who were able to flee, the official said.
Piracy in Zamboanga del Sur is said to be rampant, hampering the development of the province which is fast becoming a center for seaweed production.
Seaweed is converted into carrageenin, a basic material for natural preservatives.
Seaweeds from Zamboanga del Sur however could not be shipped to Cebu, where a modern carrageenin production facility is located, because pirates abound the province's seas.
As early as 2002, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered a campaign against the pirates.
The President specifically directed Transport Secretary Leandro Mendoza, who has supervision over the Philippine Coast Guard, to clean up the pirates in the province, acknowledging that the province's economic growth is affected due to the piracy problem.