Some of abandoned Dynasty workers ‘decide to go home’

The Philippine honorary consul to the CNMI met again with affected overseas workers affected by the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino’s practical abandonment of them to a limited supply of food and fuel and a utility bill that prompted them to be cut off from power more than a week ago.

Honorary consul Glicerio Arago met with the overseas workers on Saturday at the Natibu Park, said his representative Ariel Mariano.

The meeting follows a first visit the previous Saturday, a day after the hotel barracks’ power was cut.

Arago flew to island around 8am for a meeting with about 60 people, mostly workers and their families, from about 10am to 4 pm, Mariano said.

Arago clarified with the overseas workers that it would still going to be their personal decision on plans and actions with the issue, said Mariano.

Most of the workers filled out forms, or Philippine government “Assistance to Nationals” form, on the kind of assistance needed from the Philippine government.

“Workers and families have decided to go home,” said Mariano.

Some requested legal assistance on labor and immigration issues, he added.

It was earlier revealed that the workers had been on Tinian without worker status since late 2014.

Mariano said there was a lot of discussion about labor and immigration procedures and a request was made for a U.S. lawyer to take look at their concerns.

Others also requested medical assistance for daily medication for diabetes and high blood pressure, he said.

It was also decided that donations would be carried through the United Filipinos Association on Tinian or UniFil.

Mariano said that UniFil president Rodney Cabarles explained all donations, coming from Saipan organizations for example, would be distributed through UniFil and would be going to all affected nationals, not just Filipinos but also Bangladeshi or Nepalese workers affected, among others.

As this developed, Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas said they would preparing the Tinian Gymnasium and Youth Center for affected workers who decided to move out of the barracks, for a targeted “move-in” today, Monday.

It was earlier reported that the workers barracks only had enough fuel to run power for three hours a day and would be out of fuel within a week’s time from the time their power was cut.

San Nicolas says they’ve called their work Operation Ayudu, which means “help” in Chamorro.

In an interview Thursday, he said a team in place was preparing the Tinian gym and youth center for the workers.

“It’s given us a great opportunity to go through this motion in case a natural disaster come up,” he said.

The windows, the doors, the lighting and fixtures of the gym need to be fixed, he also said. “This is a 25-year-old building. After the assessment, we figured there’s some things that need to be fixed. We have a couple days to do that and we are doing that as we speak.”

San Nicolas said they reached out to the Dynasty and gave out registration forms to find out how many are coming, their names, if they have allergies, among other information they need to know as hosts.

He added he would be meeting with the local American Red Cross chapter on Friday, who would be bringing in pallets of donations.

Businesses and lawmakers have already sent donations, he added.

They expected mosquito coils, canned goods, and mosquito tents, and anticipated about 10 pallets coordinated through the local Homeland Security and the Red Cross, according to the mayor.

“We are anticipating all,” the Tinian mayor said, when asked how many would be moving from the Dynasty. Altogether there about 200 affected workers, he said, with several living outside in the community right now. As for those at the Dynasty, San Nicolas said there were about 148 people.

He said, though, others may find other places to stay.

“They have a lot of young kids. Some in high school. There’s about 45 dependents of these employees,” he said.

The gym and youth center should be ready for former workers by Friday for a move in by Monday, he said.

“We’ve prepared registration form…so we can better coordinate for their arrival to the gymnasium,” he said.

Asked where the previous owners of the Tinian Dynasty management have been and he felt they have been “missing in action,” San Nicolas said the chairman of their board was “gone” and “he’s not here.” And as far as upper level management goes, he knew of Sterling Lundgren, a communications agent, or go between previous Dynasty owner Hong Kong Entertainment and the expected new owners, Tinian Entertainment Corp.

“[Lundgren has] been very open and frank with me and with our team and I appreciate that. He has a very good attitude,” San Nicolas said.

Still, asked if he felt like the HKE abandoned these employees, San Nicolas said, “I would prefer that chairman Wai Chan be here to face the music. But he’s not here.”

TEC awarded gaming license

Meanwhile, Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission on Friday awarded a conditional casino license to the Tinian Entertainment Corp., a move seen as a first step in getting the currently defunct Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino up and running again.

TEC aims to open the casino by December of this year and are still in the early stages of acquisition. The previous owners of the hotel were Hong Kong Entertainment.

Tinian Entertainment Corp. is a subsidiary of Chinese Strategic, which is closely associated with Chen.

Chinese Strategic, a Hong Kong stock exchange trading company, is one of the initial investors with Mega Stars for the purchase of HKE, which currently owns Tinian Dynasty.

Sen. Jude Hofshcneider (R-Tinian) says investor Tim Chen, of the Chinese Strategic Holdings Ltd. is very serious in his investment and had conformability to move forward with the project.

“It’s great news for the island of Tinian,” said Hofschneider. “The light at the end of the tunnel has become brighter.”

The Tinian Dynasty has been indefinitely closed for months now, with earlier announcements that they would reopen unrealized.

Saipan Tribune earlier reported that the hotel, which suspended operations last March, was closed due to “low occupancy” and lack of “charter groups.”

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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