Firm denies trafficking workers found in cruise ship
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Fahrenheit Company Limited (FCL) on Wednesday denied illegally hiring 139 Filipinos for jobs in Guam, even as its president had yet to face the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on complaints of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.
Isagani Cabrera, FCL president and general manager, was being investigated after Coast Guard and NBI personnel found the recruits in a cruise ship bound for Micronesia at the Port of Orion in Bataan province on Tuesday.
FCL had yet to issue a statement addressing the NBI allegations, but company sources said the passengers had valid work permits and only the cruise ship, MV Forever Lucky, had documentary problems when the Coast Guard stopped it from leaving.
The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), through its chair and administrator, Wilma Eisma, described FCL as a “diversified company engaged in construction, land development, subcontracting, transshipment of agricultural and marine products, quarrying and mining.”
When asked, Eisma said FCL had not contacted the SBMA on the issue.
“I honestly prefer it that way because it is important that we conduct an impartial investigation and to work with the NBI,” she said.
Most passengers come from Southern Luzon provinces.
Some of them said they were recruited for their skills in preparing and cooking “lechon” (roasted pig) and many more people joined them when news about their hiring spread “like wildfire.”
Others said they were offered jobs abroad, like the United States territory of Guam.
The NBI took the passengers to Manila, said Orion Mayor Virgilio Isidro, who was at the port when law enforcers boarded the ship on Tuesday.
The Inquirer was barred from entering the port on Wednesday, with the NBI having taken jurisdiction over the case.
“We were there merely to observe and assist the NBI in securing or processing documents with regard to human trafficking and illegal recruitment,” Isidro said. —Reports from Allan Macatuno and Greg Refraccion
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