Pasay court to rule on withdrawal of pending case vs Japanese fugitives soon

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2023 03:33 PM

MANILA — A Pasay City court will rule anytime soon on the motion to withdraw pending cases against 2 Japanese fugitives linked to a series of robberies in Japan.

Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 109 Judge Christian Castañeda will decide the fate of Japanese Yuki Watanabe and Tomonobu Saito, who are both facing violence against women and their children (VAWC) charges.

The prosecution has sought to dismiss the cases so that the Bureau of Immigration can deport them. 

It filed motions to withdraw the VAWC cases, which the court heard Monday. 

“The motion now was submitted for resolution. The court, at any time, will render a resolution,” Watanabe’s and Saito’s lawyer Eljun Rico, told the media on Monday.

“[If] the court will grant the motion and the case will be dismissed or the court will deny it and proceed to trial,” he explained.

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Japanese police identified Watanabe as Luffy, the alleged ringleader of the Japanese robbery group, who supposedly orchestrated the robberies while under detention in a Philippine Immigration bureau facility.

The DOJ earlier confirmed he is among the 4 Japanese subject of deportation, along with Kiyoto Imamura and Toshiya Fujita. The agency has yet to name the 4th Japanese.

Rico confirmed to ABS-CBN News that his client, Tomonobu Saito, is among those to be deported. 

Watanabe and Saito were both arrested in 2021. Both are accused of being involved in fraud and robbery cases in Japan. They are also facing VAWC cases filed by their former partners before the same court. They share the same lawyer.

Both of their former partners were present in court during Monday’s hearing.

Asked how the court would probably rule on the pending motion, Rico refused to preempt the court but said granting the motions to withdraw would work in his clients’ favor.

Meanwhile, an inter-agency committee will convene at 4 p.m. Monday to decide on the final details of the deportation.

The DOJ is fast-tracking the dismissal of the pending cases and the deportation of the Japanese fugitives ahead of President Bongbong Marcos Jr.’s working visit to Japan on Wednesday, Feb. 8, to minimize distractions.