Watanabe’s lawyer: Pasay court ‘impliedly’ denies bid to junk case

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 02 2023 05:20 PM | Updated as of Feb 02 2023 05:21 PM

Deportation of alleged robbery ringleader can’t proceed unless pending case resolved 

MANILA — The deportation proceedings of a Japanese national suspected to be the ringleader behind a string of robberies in Japan hits a snag as a Pasay City court on Thursday “impliedly denied” the prosecution’s motion to dismiss a case against him, his lawyer said. 

Yuki Watanabe, whom Japanese police believe to be “Luffy”, the head of a Japanese robbery group, is facing a charge for violence against women and their children filed by his former wife, a Filipina.

He is one of 4 Japanese whom Tokyo had asked to be deported to Japan.

The Department of Justice had given “guidance” to move for the dismissal of cases involving the 4 Japanese and mentioned 3 hearings on the motions in different courts on Thursday and Friday.

Lawyer Eljun Rico, who represents Watanabe, confirmed to ABS-CBN News the motion to dismiss was raised during Thursday’s hearing in Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 109.

“It was raised but it was impliedly denied because the proceedings proceeded,” he said.

Rico said Watanabe, and another Japanese also facing a similar charge, Tomonobu Saito, attended the hearing virtually, while 2 Filipinas, who refused to speak to the media, physically attended the hearing.

According to Rico, the former wives of Watanabe and Saito testified while the prosecution is expected to present 2 more witnesses each against Watanabe and Saito on Feb. 7.

President Bongbong Marcos is expected to leave for Japan on Feb. 8 for an official working visit.

The DOJ had hoped to resolve the deportation issue of 4 Japanese before the President leaves for Japan.

Remulla on Wednesday said 1 Japanese in BI custody was cleared of charges and could be deported, but Tokyo requested that all 4 Japanese fugitives be deported at the same time.

There is no word yet if the Japanese government will change its request given the outcome of Thursday’s hearing. 

The Justice department and the Immigration bureau has yet to comment on the new development.

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Watanabe lawyer: Pasay court ‘impliedly’ denies bid to junk case 


Watanabe’s lawyer pushed back against suggestions from the justice department that the cases the Japanese fugitives are facing were simulated.

“It is unfair for the prosecution to say that because the accused were indicted,” he said.

“We even conducted preliminary investigation in this case, we had hearings at the prosecutor’s office, my clients were indicted, it is now in court, a warrant of arrest was issued and our client posted bail,” he explained.

Remulla earlier said it was suspicious that partners of the Japanese fugitives who filed VAWC cases continued to visit and even kiss them.

Rico said he had no personal knowledge of the justice secretary’s claims but assuming they’re true, he said even estranged husbands and wives could be civil to each other.

“I don’t have personal knowledge to that but assuming that is true, then domestic problems… even ex-husbands and wives can be civil in nature especially when they need support,” he said.


Rico also refused to confirm if Watanabe is indeed “Luffy” or is involved in the robberies in Japan.

Rico said he also no personal knowledge regarding the cellphones confiscated from Immigration detainees.

But Watanabe supposedly told him he would face the cases in due time.

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