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Rescued Japanese children home soon

By ANTONIO L. COLINA IV

DAVAO CITY – The Japanese children rescued from the hands of traffickers in the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) last week are going home soon.

Alma Acera of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) in Davao Region confirmed the good news on Tuesday, relating the Bureau of Immigration (BI) is now processing the children’s exit clearance.

At least four parents arrived last Sunday in the city and more are expected to arrive within the week to pick up their children.

As of the moment, the children are staying at the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) of IGACOS.

Acera said the children, 10 males and 3 females, were rescued May 2 at Purok Camotes, Barangay Toril, in IGACOS.

Arrested during the operation were Japanese nationals Hajime Kawauchi, 61; his son, Yuya Kawauchi, 35; and their Filipino cohort, Lorena Mapagdalita, 56.

She said the victims were brought to the country by the Kawauchis in the guise of teaching them English, martial arts, and character-building via the fictitious “Davao Free School.”

The Kawauchis made it look legit enough Acera said, through multimedia advertising, placing spots on Japanese TV, and on social media.

Some of the children came on their own accord, while others were brought here by their parents, Acera added.

While here, the Kawauchis had the children moving one place to another; eventually constructing a building in Samal to house them.

Acera said father and son previously brought the children in Panacan before moving to Samal in October 2017.

All throughout, the children had no way of communicating with their relatives with the Kawauchis confiscating their mobile phones and laptops.

Acera said it was the Kawauchis who communicated with the children’s parents, sending them pictures of the children doing construction activities as part of their supposed “training.”

Meanwhile, the parents kept on sending money amounting to P50,000 to P100,000 a month as part of the children’s supposed monthly “allowance.” But Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 spokesperson Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz said that each victim was only receiving P1,000 a month from the suspects.

Acera believes the Kawauchis held some of their victims longer than expected as some of them have expired visas and passports.

They also continued to lure other victims with the latest arriving in the country only a week before they were rescued.

Driz said separate cases in violation of R.A. 10364 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and R.A. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act have been filed Monday against the suspects in a local court.
However, the charges filed in court against the Filipina was dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence.

Acera said they are looking forward to the cooperation of the Japanese government in convicting the suspects, including presenting the children during hearings and explaining to their parents the actions taken by IACAT 11.

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