MANILA, Philippines–There is that possibility that foreign fugitives are running criminal enterprises while inside detention, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said.
On Monday, Remulla met with representatives from the Japanese Embassy to discuss the deportation of four of its nationals believed to be involved in the string of robberies in their country while detained in the Philippines.
“Yesterday [Monday], we were able to agree that it was possible that criminal enterprises were being run from the detention centers through telephones that they had in possession,” Remulla said.
“This is what we are trying to look at now. [There is a] very serious breach of discipline within the ranks of the Bureau of Immigration, and this will be dealt with severely,” he said.
Remulla said they learned Monday that one of the four suspects even had six iPhones in his possession. At the same time, video recordings of the facility showed that the suspects were seen videotaping themselves.
“I think playing it for public consumption or even in their [social media] pages,” Remulla told reporters
“This reeks of corruption, and the people who are responsible for the behavior of all the people under detention will be dealt with severely once proven that they did not do their jobs in ensuring that the use of communication tools are only used for lawyers and family calls,” he warned.
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Based on information from the Japanese government, the suspects are using an encrypted messaging app inside detention to communicate with their cohorts in their country for the robbery operation.
As early as 2019, the Japanese government had already requested the Philippines to deport four of its nationals, including a certain “Luffy,” the alleged ringleader.
However, deportation was delayed because the four have pending cases in the Philippines–three of the four have cases of violating Republic Act 9262 or the Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC), while one has an estafa case.
Remulla said they believed that the cases were fabricated to prevent deportation.
“We are of the impression that these cases were invented or are not real cases…They were contrived cases filed against them just to keep them in the Philippines,” he said.
He said one of the complaints was filed by a Filipina girlfriend who regularly visits her Japanese boyfriend.
“She plants a kiss on his cheek and behaves sweetly,” he said, adding that “logic and experience” would show that a wronged woman would not act that way.
“These are modus operandi and will not be dealt lightly by the DOJ. We will file cases against these lawyers who do not respect the rule of law in our country,” he said.