PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday offered an apology and expressed his “deepest regrets” to the South Korean government and the wife of murdered South Korean executive Jee Ick-Joo.
In a statement read by presidential spokesman Ernesto, Duterte condoled with Jee’s wife, Choi Kyung Jin, and reiterated the Philippine government’s vow to deliver swift justice for the Korean national.
“We wish to take this occasion to express the condolences and sympathies of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the Filipino people to Mrs. Choi Kyung Jin, widow of Jee Ick Joo, the South Korean national who met his untimely death while in police custody,” Abella told reporters in a news conference.
“We apologize to the South Korean government and people for this irreparable loss. But we commit the full
force of the law to ensure that justice is served and not delayed,” he added.
Quoting Duterte, Abella said: “To the Korean people, please accept my sincerest and deepest regrets.”
Jee and his househelp were abducted by a group of armed men including members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) last October 18 in Angeles City, Pampanga. They allegedly used a fake warrant of arrest and invoked the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign.
Investigators found that Jee was strangled to death by Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Santa Isabel in a car parked right inside the PNP’s Camp Crame headquarters in Quezon City. His remains were then brought to a funeral parlor owned by a retired policeman in Caloocan City, then cremated in a nearby crematorium.
After killing Jee, the abductors still demanded ransom from his wife, who gave P5 million.
The President issued the apology after defending PNP chief Ronald de la Rosa amid calls for him to resign.
“I have not seen criminal intent, really, on the part of de la Rosa and the rest of the group,” Duterte said on Sunday in Filipino. “No one would want someone killed inside the camp. None.”
Malacañang on Tuesday rejected Sen. Leila de Lima’s allegation that Duterte had created a culture of impunity in the country amid his administration’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
Abella said corruption in the police had been a problem even before the Duterte administration. “In fact, that’s exactly why he (Duterte) came in, to address that particular culture,” he said.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon warned that the country was “heading toward a serious problem” following Jee’s killing and the mounting deaths as a result of the drug war.
“The country is heading towards a serious law enforcement problem when these killings remain unabated and unresolved and a culture of impunity among law enforcers perpetuates,” Drilon said in a statement.
“If policemen are always suspected of participating in gruesome crimes, then how can Filipinos trust them?” he asked.
“There seems to be a leadership crisis in the PNP and a breakdown of command at some levels, if not at all levels,” Drilon said.