Firm denies claims of illegally trafficking Filipinos; raps dismissed

MANILA The Fahrenheit Company Ltd. (FCL) on Friday denied involvement in the illegal recruitment of 139 Filipino workers on board a cruise ship bound for Micronesia.

On July 3, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) operatives rescued 139 individuals from a human smuggling attempt on board the FCL-owned cruise ship, M/V Forever Lucky, bound for Micronesia at the Port of Orion in Bataan.

In a statement, FCL President Isagani Cabrera categorically denied accusations of human trafficking, human smuggling, or illegal recruitment.

We are in the business of port operations and other related businesses for the past 20 years. We have been operating as a law-abiding and responsible business entity. We would not sacrifice our untarnished reputation just to be involved in illegal activities, especially in something as grave as human smuggling," Cabrera said.

M/V Forever Lucky was not even scheduled to depart anywhere since at that night of July 3, there were some repairs being done in the ship," Cabrera said.

FCL noted that the case against Cabrera, along with four FCL workers, was downgraded to illegal recruitment because there was "no compelling reason or evidence to charge them for human smuggling or human trafficking."

The case filed against these individuals was for alleged violations of Republic Act No. 8042, or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), in a decision handed last July 9, already dismissed the case for lack of probable cause.

"There exists no probable cause to indict respondents of the crime charged against them, the resolution read.

"There is now a dearth of evidence with regard to the alleged acts of the respondents pertaining to the alleged illegal recruitment. This office (the DOJ) has thus, no recourse but to dismiss this case," it added.

Cabrera said the NBI only got nine complainants, who are not employees directly involved with Fahrenheit Co. Ltd.

He said the nine complainants were on-the-job (OJT) trainees from Sainte Trinite Academy who were fulfilling their internship training.

How could we be involved in illegal recruitment when we are not even actively recruiting people for work abroad? There is not a single time when we, or the company, have even asked for any form of payment or fees in exchange for overseas employment," Cabrera said.

"So, the unfortunate events which happened were a big surprise to us since for the past two decades, we have been operating our business smoothly and efficiently, he added.

Cabrera said the nine complainants already submitted their Affidavit of Desistance.

The DOJ said in its resolution that: A perusal of the respective affidavits of the complainants in this case shows not only a misapprehension of the facts which transpired previously but also shows manifest lack of intention on their (complainants) part to pursue the case.

We are law-abiding citizens. We are providing decent employment to our workers here in the port. It is unfair that these accusations were leveled against us but it is now the right time to set the record straight, said Cabrera. Truth is on our side.

Last July 10, ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III filed a House of Representatives resolution seeking congressional probe into the illegal recruitment of Filipino workers on board the cruise ship. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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