MANILA – Two Japanese nationals who are alleged members of a crime ring behind a series of violent robberies in their home country were deported on Tuesday.
In a statement, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Norman Tansingco said Toshiya Fujita and Kiyoto Imamura, both 38, boarded a Japan Airlines flight past 9 a.m. under maximum security.
Fujita, apprehended by the BI Fugitive Search Unit in Barangay Anilao Proper in Mabini, Batangas on Feb. 21, 2021, has been tagged by Japanese authorities as a senior member of an organized fraud group engaged in a phone-based scam.
An arrest warrant was reportedly issued against him in Tokyo.
Imamura was arrested a day after Christmas in 2019 after attempting to depart from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 via a Cebu Pacific flight bound for Macau. He reportedly had a warrant of arrest in his country for theft.
Both faced local cases in the Philippines, which were subsequently dismissed.
They were deported for violating the terms and conditions of their visas for being fugitives, as well as being risks to public interest.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla also confirmed that Yuki “Luffy” Watanabe and Tomonobu Saito will be deported Wednesday, although the BI statement said they have yet to confirm who Watanabe is.
“One of them is Luffy. It’s only the Japanese police who can tell. One of the four is Luffy. I don’t know who among them but there were 24 cellphones and two tablets recovered that were already turned over to the Japanese police,” Remulla told reporters.
Watanabe is the alleged leader of the group, with their most recent heist resulting in the killing of a 90-year-old woman in Komae, western Tokyo.
He reportedly coordinated with his henchmen via smartphone using a messaging application to carry out robberies in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
Remulla said the Pasay Regional Trial Court Branch 109 has dismissed the remaining case of Violation Against Women and Their Children law (Republic Act No. 9262) against Watanabe and Saito.
The supposed complainants have not been appearing in the hearings, boosting suspicions that the case was contrived to prevent their deportation, the DOJ chief said.
“(T)he court upheld the grounds that we have been speaking about that these cases are looking like fabricated cases, done as a mere afterthought or only as a means of frustrating the government to deport the fugitives. And today is a good day for us,” Remulla said.
The possibility of a last-minute legal loophole to keep the two remaining Japanese is unlikely.
“Any motion for reconsideration has to be joined by the prosecutor or the Solicitor General. In this case, we don’t see it coming because any motion for reconsideration in this case have to be filed,” he said.
If there is no available morning flight, Remulla said the deportation would proceed even late at night, even with the arrival of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in Tokyo for his state visit.
“The arrest and deportation of these fugitives is a huge win for the Philippine government, as we will not rest until these international criminals are sent back and banned from our country,” the BI said. (PNA)