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Report: Filipino workers on intercepted cruise ship promised Guam jobs

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) —  The government of Yap state in the Federated States of Micronesia was responsible for the contract with a Philippine cruise ship operator now facing an investigation for attempting to transport undocumented Filipino workers to Yap state, the Micronesian Games Organizing Committee stated in a response to The Guam Daily Post.

Philippine authorities last week announced that the cruise ship M/V Forever Lucky was intercepted while preparing to set sail for Yap with 139 undocumented Filipino workers, including masseuses, pig roasters and tattoo artists. The authorities called the investigation human smuggling in nature because the workers didn’t go through the required processing for overseas-bound workers.

The Philippine Coast Guard also determined that the ship wasn’t seaworthy to carry the number of passengers found on board, the committee confirmed.

Some of the workers who were interviewed by a Manila newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, said the recruitment for Yap-bound pig roasters spread like wildfire. A worker said applicants were told they would eventually land a job on Guam, the Philippine publication reported.

The cruise ship operator, Fahrenheit Co. Ltd., is based in the Subic Bay Freeport, and has a long relationship as a supplier of aggregate materials for construction projects in Yap and other places in the FSM, the company states. Its website states it also has a business license to do business on Guam, but an office location or contact number on Guam was not immediately available.

The Games’ organizing committee stated that with the support of the Federated States of Micronesia national government, Yap had signed a contract with Fahrenheit for the company to provide cruise ship accommodations, and food catering for Games participants.

The Guam Daily Post contacted Fahrenheit’s Philippine phone number and an email address for its cruise ship reservations, but there was no response.

Philippine-registered ship Forever Lucky was stopped Wednesday  for attempting to transport 139 undocumented workers to Yap last week.  Philippine Department of Transportation photoPhilippine-registered ship Forever Lucky was stopped Wednesday for attempting to transport 139 undocumented workers to Yap last week. Philippine Department of Transportation photo

Fahrenheit’s owners and its cruise ship Forever Lucky face a joint investigation by the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine Coast Guard for human smuggling. Its officers were being summoned as part of the Philippine investigation.

The ship was intercepted as it was preparing to set sail to Yap, where additional labor and accommodations were needed for the 2018 Micronesian Games, which is set to take place from July 15 to 27.

The interception of the ship and the workers has caused wrinkles in the preparations for the Micro Games.

Delegates were previously told they’d be able to make reservations to stay on the cruise ship as it was supposed to be anchored at Yap during the Games.

And the Games Coordinating Committee had expected the catering and feeding of all Games athletes would be provided by Fahrenheit.

The committee on Saturday began identifying local food caterers as an alternative. The cruise ship was supposed to have arrived last weekend.

With Guam’s delegation leaving for Yap in a few days, the Guam athletes are not taking any chances on accommodations, and have made alternative plans, said the delegation’s chef de mission, Joey Miranda.

The 100-plus members of the Guam delegation began arranging for alternative accommodations after news of the cruise ship’s troubles came to light, Miranda said.