MANILA, Philippines – Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 109 junked the cases against the two remaining Japanese fugitives in the country, paving the way for their deportation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Tuesday, February 7.
DOJ spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano confirmed to reporters the dismissal of the cases of Yuki Watanabe and Tomonobu Saito.
In the case of Watanabe, also believed to be known as “Luffy,” the Pasay RTC ruled: “WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Motion to Withdraw Information is granted. This case against Yuki Watanabe is considered withdrawn. The warrant of arrest issued against him is recalled and set aside.”
Meanwhile, in granting the release of Saito, the court also used almost the same wording present in the ruling on Watanabe. Both the decisions were made by Pasay RTC Branch 109 Presiding Judge Christian P. Castañeda.
The junking of the cases stemmed from the Motions to Withdraw Information filed by the Pasay City prosecutor’s office. The petition sought to retract the charges against the Japanese fugitives in relation to alleged violation of Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.
Among the grounds cited by the prosecutors was the “evidence on record is insufficient to sustain a conviction.” They also noted that based on verified reports, the charge was allegedly used to deliberately keep the Japanese fugitives in the country.
Since the cases have already been junked, Watanabe and Saito can now be deported back to their country. The Philippines and Japan have no extradition treaty so the Japanese fugitives need to have been cleared of their local cases before they could leave the country.
Remulla, during a presser on Tuesday, said the two remaining Japanese fugitives will likely be deported on Wednesday, February 8. The date coincides with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s trip to Japan.
Two other Japanese fugitives, Kiyoto Imamura and Toshiya Fujita, were already deported on Tuesday morning. All told, the four were said to be involved in a string of robberies in Japan – and Luffy was the alleged ringleader.
The request to deport the fugitives was made as early as 2019 – under former president Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. If the two remaining fugitives will be successfully deported to Japan, there will now be 13 Japanese under the Bureau of Immigration’s custody. – Rappler.com
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