Filipinos Freed from Yap After ‘Miscommunication’
A group of Filipinos detained in Yap have been released with their tugboat after the island’s Supreme Court dismissed the case against them.
The 16 men were arrested and charged with immigration violations earlier this month when the boat, owned by the Philippines company Fahrenheit, arrived in Yap.
In July, another Fahrenheit boat, Forever Lucky, was intercepted by the Philippines coast guard before it could reach Yap to assist with the 2018 MicroGames.
The tugboat, Ocean Support, was sent to Yap instead but its entry permit was for the other boat so it was detained on arrival.
The incident prompted Yap’s Governor, Tony Ganngiyan, to send a letter to the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, Peter Christian, asking him to step in and free the vessel and its crew.
In his letter to the Mr Christian, Mr Ganngiyan asked that the tugboat be released for “humanitarian reasons as well as our future urge for foreign investment”.
“We know that it is not their intention to violate any national or state laws but perhaps due to miscommunication between the State and National Government relevant offices,” Yap’s government information agency quoted the letter as saying.
A Supreme Court court order shows on Friday the arrest warrants were recalled and the tugboat released.
Local media reports in the Philippines said the Forever Lucky had 139 Filipino workers aboard when it was detained in July and that it prompted the arrests of several Fahrenheit employees on human trafficking charges.
However, the company denied all wrongdoing and said the human trafficking charges were later dismissed.
In a statement, Yap’s government information agency said accusations of illegal activity by Fahrenheit were falsely reported.
There is no evidence the arrests of the Ocean Support crew were in any way prompted by media reports relating to Forever Lucky.
The Philippines Coast Guard and Department of Justice did not respond to requests for comment.