Philippines suspects body found could be Chinese adventurer

MANILA (AP) — Philippine military officials said yesterday the headless body of a man and a boat have been found in the south and authorities were verifying if he could be a Chinese adventurer who went missing while rowing across the Pacific Ocean last year.

Regional military commander Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana said the head of the man found in the southernmost province of Tawi Tawi may have been severed by strong waves as the body drifted in the high seas for a long time.

Ransom-seeking Abu Sayyaf militants have taken hostages in the far-flung region in the past and decapitated some of them, but in the case of the remains found in Tawi Tawi, Sobejana told The Associated Press there was no sign of beheading.

Military officials said in a report that the body clad in a blue dive suit was found by a villager on the shores of Kinapusan island in Tawi Tawi’s South Ubian town on April 24 and notified marine personnel, who buried the remains in the area.

An ocean-going white rowboat with red and blue stripes and marked “88” was found nearby, a regional security official, Colonel Arturo Rojas, said in the report.

Military officials have tried to verify the identity of the man with officials in nearby towns and Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts. They suspect the body was that of a Chinese adventurer who went missing when his boat flipped over in November last year off Marshall Islands.

The recovered rowboat was strikingly similar to the one used by the Chinese man in pictures seen by Philippine military officials, according to the report.

Sobejana said the military will help relatives of the Chinese man if they want to travel to the Philippines to try to identify the remains.