BI relieves warden facility head, staff

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has relieved the head and other personnel of its warden facility after six mobile phones were found on a Japanese detainee wanted in Japan, a bureau spokesperson said Friday.

INSPECTION. Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco (center) leaves the detention facility where four Japanese nationals suspected of being involved in an alleged string of robberies in Japan are believed to be detained in Taguig City on February 3, 2023. AFP

BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval told radio dzBB that the responsibility for the breach lies with the head of the warden facility.

The Department of Justice on Tuesday said that six iPhones were taken from one of the four Japanese nationals that the Japanese government had requested to be deported.

Sandoval said Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco did not authorize the use of cell phones in the facility.

Sandoval said Tansingco was set to visit the facility Friday to inspect it for further improvements.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the deportation of the four Japanese nationals may begin next week, following the dismissal of most of the cases filed against them in various Philippine courts.

Remulla made the statement after a Taguig court dismissed a “light threats” complaint filed against one of the Japanese nationals, Fujita Toshiya.

Remulla said that the four Japanese nationals, which include Yuki

“Luffy” Watanabe, the alleged leader of a Japan-based burglary gang that he reportedly managed from behind bars in the Philippines through cell phones, are facing 10 to 11 cases filed against them.

“I think we have already taken care of seven of them, seven cases. So,maybe three more cases to go. But at least, in the one week we’ve been doing it, we’ve been able to move forward with the process of deportation,” Remulla said.

“I don’t know if it’s Monday, or it’s Tuesday. But we will definitely start (deportations) next week. Whatever date it is, when we’re ready, when the tickets are there, when the escorts are there, then we start deporting, because they have to be escorted back to Japan,” he added.

Aside from the deportations, local officials are also formalizing the turnover of evidence to the Japanese government, including the cell phones confiscated, in accordance with the rules on transnational crimes agreed upon between countries.

The case of Toshiya was dismissed earlier Wednesday by Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 116.

Clerk of Court Merly Pagkalinawan said “the motion to withdraw (filed by prosecutors) stated the ground that there is a consistent absence on the part of the private complainant.”

“That is the reason why the motion is granted and it has the effect of dismissal of the case,” she added.

Pagkalinawan said the judge found no probable cause as there were no “overt acts” on the part of the accused.

The court official also said Toshiya and the complainant never appeared in court.

“None of the parties appeared, the complainant, the accused, even if there was counsel representing them, there were no appearances,” she said.

After they failed to appear for the second time, she said the courtissued a warrant of arrest that was later lifted when the case was dismissed.

The Japanese government has requested the deportation of Toshiya, Yuki Watanabe, Kiyoto Imamura, and Tomonobu Kojima. However, the DOJ said that they cannot deport individuals with pending cases.

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