The Philippines is hoping to deport the suspects behind a string of robberies in Japan by the second week of February in time for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s visit to the country, a senior Philippine government official said Monday.
Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla made the remarks during a press conference, at a time when Japanese police have been requesting the transfer of the suspects from Manila where they are currently being detained.
Remulla said the process is "being expedited" given the significance of the case.
According to Remulla, many of those detained are seeking to escape deportation by having cases filed against them. He said the government will investigate whether the cases have been concocted to avoid deportation.
The Japanese police have sought the transfer of Yuki Watanabe, alias "Luffy," the suspected mastermind of the robberies, and three other men after obtaining arrest warrants on suspicion of theft in connection with a scam targeting elderly people in Japan.
Watanabe has been charged in the Philippines with violating a law on violence against women and children, and the case is complicating the handover.
The transfer will be discussed by the Philippines and Japan on Tuesday at the earliest, according to a Japanese government official.