BI detention center undergoes improvements
MANILA, Philippines — Improvements are being made at the detention facility of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in Bicutan, Taguig City, after a surprise raid last week found unauthorized communication devices believed to have been used to coordinate robberies in Japan.
“I have instructed the new management of the BIWF (Bureau of Immigration Ward Facility) to implement improvements in the facility, and to ensure that no such incident occurs in the future,” Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said on Saturday.
“Those who are found to be remiss of their duty will definitely face administrative sanctions,” he added.
Tansingco earlier relieved 36 personnel of the facility, including the warden and reassigned them to other back-end offices pending investigation. Immigration Intelligence Officer II Leander Catalo was named the new warden of the detention facility.
The facility, located inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, is the only detention center for deportees in the country. It serves as a temporary holding facility for foreign nationals set for deportation.
In a surprise raid on Jan. 30, Immigration officers confiscated laptops, internet routers, cigarettes, sharp objects and more than P500,000 in cash from the detainees. Six iPhones were also confiscated from one of the four Japanese fugitives who authorities believe used the iPhones to coordinate crimes in Japan.
Immigration policy allows the use of cellphones by foreign detainees only for a certain period of time to allow them to communicate with their legal counsel or families, upon approval by the immigration chief.
But no such authorization was issued by Tansingco.
After the raid, Tansingco immediately ordered that foreign fugitives be held separately from other deportees as they require tighter security and regulations.
String of robberies
Yuki Watanabe, Kiyoto Imamura, Toshiya Fujita and Tomonobu Saito are the fugitives alleged to have run the criminal group called “Luffy,” named from the popular anime One Piece, which conducted a string of robberies in 14 prefectures in Japan.
Watanabe and Saito are currently facing charges before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 109 for violation of Republic Act No. 9262, or the Violence Against Women and Children Act.
These cases were filed by their respective partners but the Department of Justice believes the charges to be “fabricated” in the attempt to delay their deportation.
Imamura and Fujita are already cleared of charges and are ready to be deported.
According to Justice Secretary Boying Remulla, several Japanese police officers are coming to the Philippines over the weekend to escort the Japanese fugitives to Japan after the remaining two cases are dismissed.
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