A motion by Japanese gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada to quash pardon coercion charges against him and his representatives following their May 2022 takeover of the Okada Manila integrated resort has been dismissed by a local court.
According to information from Okada Manila operator Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc (TRLEI), the Paranaque Metropolitan Magistrates’ Court, Branch 91, dismissed the petition last Tuesday, ruling instead that the allegations against the group are sufficient to constitute the criminal offense of serious coercion.
“The information in this case is sufficient with respect to both the offense charged and the alleged circumstances of conspiracy between the defendants to commit the offense charged,” reads the resolution.
Under Philippine law, severe coercion applies where a person is prevented by another from doing something that is not prohibited by law; when prevention or coercion is effected by violence, threats or intimidation; and where the restriction is not made by operation of law or in the exercise of a legitimate right.
Representatives of Mr. Okada stormed Okada Manila and forcibly took control of the property on May 31 in response to a Status Que Ante (SQAO) order issued by the Supreme Court of the Philippines ordering that the board of administration of TRLEI be temporarily restored to its status before the departure of Mr. Okada. eviction in 2017.
The Okada Group occupied Okada Manila for three months before the Ministry of Justice ruled that the SQAO did not give it the right to take control, leading the TRAL-backed board to reclaim ownership early september.
Charges later filed by members of the TRAL-backed board of directors allege that members of the Kazuo Okada group, namely Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco, Dindo Espeleta and attorney Florentino “Binky” Herrera, illegally settled in as board members of Okada Manila despite their absence. have the approval of the Supreme Court to do so.
Mr Okada was arrested last Monday after flying into Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport as the Metropolitan Magistrates’ Court ruled that a trial should now be held in relation to the serious coercion charges.
“On balance, the information in this case is sufficient and the motion to quash the defendant’s omnibus motion must necessarily fail,” reads the court’s resolution.
“Considering that the allegations have been sufficiently substantiated against the defendant in this case, the next logical step for this court is to verify the veracity of said allegations in a full trial to determine whether or not the defendants are guilty of the offense charged. in this matter,” reads the resolution.
TRLEI’s legal counsel, Atty. Winston Ginez, said in response, “The resolution issued by Paranaque’s MTC simply reflects what the DOJ has already said: that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Okada, Cojuangco, Espeleta and Herrera for serious coercion. Our legal team continues to study how the law can be applied to its fullest extent.