DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines – A destitute Japanese national who has been sleeping in open fields and eating guavas to tide him over in recent weeks in Sibulan, Negros Oriental, is seeking help from authorities for his return to Japan.
Masayoshi Kokubu, 45, a plumber from Yokohama Prefecture in Japan, recounted his harrowing experience to special investigator Jess Cañete of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) here and some reporters who struggled to communicate with the man who could barely speak English.
Kokubu admitted he is already overstaying his visit in the Philippines and does not have the money for the penalties, fines and an airline ticket back to Japan.
With the aid of an interpreter, Jean Gomez, a foreign languages teacher at a school in Dumaguete, Kokubu said his live-in partner, Rosalinda (not her real name), had dumped him in 2007 shortly after she had her baby that he had fathered.
According to Kokubu, he first arrived in the Philippines in 2000 and met a woman in Davao, but who originally hailed from Negros Occidental. He said he went with that woman to Negros Occidental after she claimed she was pregnant by him, only to find out later that he was not the father.
He then returned to Japan, and visited the Philippines again in 2002 when a friend, a Japanese national by the name of Miyami, introduced him to Rosalinda.
Kokubu said he had about P100,000 back then, which he used to build a house made of bamboo and nipa in Cansaguing, up in the mountains of Sibulan, squatting on property owned by the Teveses, he added.
He further narrated that he raised a few cows, hogs, goats and chicken, but he said he did not know where the proceeds of these farm animals went.
Kokubu has accused Rosalinda of dumping him for another guy, which he claims to have seen at the house of the woman’s parents where she had moved in.
When Rosalinda left him in 2007, Kokubu lived all by himself in his nipa hut but was given the chance to come see their child once in a while, he said.
At first, Kokubu struggled to survive on his own, landing a job with a local road contractor, but he claims that he was wrongfully accused of a misdeed that cost his job.
The Japanese national said that about three months ago, he abandoned the hut after some children and a few adults as well allegedly started stoning his house for no apparent reason.
He said he slept out in the fields and wandered around, subsisting on guavas and whatever food he could find.
Neighbors of Kokubu told CHR investigator Jess Cañete that they pitched in to give him whatever little extra food they had.
Cañete said Kokubu was sleeping on a bed made of indigenous materials in the past weeks.
According to Cañete, a friend had asked him to rescue Kokubu.
Cañete has taken in the Japanese national and has scheduled a dialogue between him and the estranged live-in partner, Rosalinda, on Monday.
In the meantime, Cañete is also preparing to submit a report to the Japanese embassy in Manila about Kokubu’s plight.
Kokubu claims he had called the embassy a few months back and asked for help but they allegedly turned him down, saying that he has to pay the penalties before he can even return to Japan.
Cañete said he has already informed the Bureau of Immigration authorities here about Kokubu and has requested them to allow him custody of the man even though he is already deemed an illegal alien, until all efforts are exhausted to have him return to Japan.
Kokubu said he does not have relatives in Japan, except for a brother, Kazuhiro, with whom he had lost contact a few years back.