President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said the police officers behind the abduction and killing of South Korean executive Jee Ick-joo will be punished.
In his speech during the groundbreaking of the Sarangani Energy Corp. power plant in Sarangani, Duterte formally apologized for the death of Jee and assured Koreans that those responsible for the crime will go to prison.
“I apologize for the death of your compatriot. We are very sorry that it had to happen,” the President said.
“But I can assure you, those responsible are known to us already and they will go to prison and I will see to it that they will be sentenced to the maximum,” he added.
Duterte, who had been very supportive of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said he believes that the killers are policemen.
“I am very sorry for that sordid incident. But I can assure you, I will see to it… Better if they escape from prison. I’ll send their heads to you. Police, you sons of bitches, I won’t let you get away with it. You will suffer,” the President said.
Jee was abducted from his home in Angeles, Pampanga on October 18 under the guise of a legitimate “Oplan Tokhang” raid.
The Korean was brought to Camp Crame, the headquarters of the PNP. The Justice department confirmed last week that he was strangled to death and his remains were cremated.
The victim’s wife paid a ransom of P5 million, thinking that Jee was still alive.
At the Senate inquiry into the case on Thursday, PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa said the prime suspect in Jee’s killing, SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, was also tagged in a kidnapping case in 2007.
Dela Rosa said Sta. Isabel was accused of being involved in the abduction of a certain Arlene Tan but the case did not prosper.
“There is a big possibility that similar cases have been happening in the past because SPO3 Sta. Isabel has been involved in abduction case in March 2007,” Dela Rosa said when asked by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd if the police force had recorded similar incidents in the past.
Senator Grace Poe urged the PNP to look into the financial status of the police officers involved in the abduction and killing of Jee.
In an interview at the sidelines of the Senate inquiry, Poe said the PNP should start with Sta. Isabel, Supt. Rafael Dumlao of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group and other policemen who took part in the operation.
It was learned during the hearing that Sta. Isabel had a net worth of P17.3 million.
The figure is lower compared to his net worth in 2014 which was P20.3 million.
Sta. Isabel owns five houses in Bagombong, Caloocan, a four-story commercial building in Cubao, Quezon City, and two vehicles.
“This really raises suspicion. If you remember he kept on evading answering questions about his monthly income. But eventually we learned that he is earning P8,000 a month as a police officer,” Poe said.
Poe also questioned Sta. Isabel’s numerous businesses, which included a lotto outlet, a Western Union remittance center and an insurance firm.
But the police officer explained that it was his wife, Jinky, who had been running the family business.
Poe meanwhile lamented the “breakdown in the chain of command” in the PNP as rogue policemen have been doing illegal activities in the guise of the administration’s anti-drug campaign.
Several groups have also accused Duterte of promoting a culture of impunity with his repeated promises to protect policemen.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara also raised the need for authorities to monitor the case and make sure those responsible will be punished, because failure to do so would have a negative effect on the country’s image.
South Korea is one of the country’s biggest sources of tourists, with approximately one million visitors a year.
Critics fear the police force is spearheading a campaign of extrajudicial killings while corrupt officers are using the campaign as cover for their own rackets.
Duterte said this week he would tolerate them earning “sideline” money, a euphemism for various corrupt activities, as long as that did not involve drugs.
WITH REPORTS FROM JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND AFP