THE Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday filed criminal charges against two policemen and a number of “John Does” for the killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo right inside the police’s Camp Crame headquarters.
Indicted for the crime of kidnapping for ransom with homicide were Senior Police Office (SPO) 3 Ricky Santa Isabel, SPO4 Roy Villegas and Ramon Yalung. Also charged were John Does identified only as “Pulis,” “Jerry,” “Sir Dumlao” and “Ding.”
Prosecutors used the testimony of Villegas and Police Office (PO) 2 Christopher Baldovino, who were part of the group that took Jee from his residence on October 18, 2016; and Marisa Morquicho, Jee’s househelp who was also allegedly abducted.
“SPO4 Roy Villegas and PO2 Christopher Baldovino executed their respective sworn statements narrating in detail their knowledge of the incident involving the victim and pointing to respondent Santa Isabel and his co-conspirators as the abductors who killed the victim,” said the resolution signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas and approved by Office in Charge-Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Lilian Dorris Alejo and Prosecutor General Victor Sepulveda.
Villegas said Santa Isabel strangled Jee and eventually killed the Korean national. Santa Isabel then ordered Jee’s remains brought to Gream funeral parlor in Caloocan City.
Prosecutors gave credence to allegations that the respondents demanded an P8-million ransom, and obtained a P5-million partial payment from Jee’s wife, Choi Kyung Jin.
Villegas and Baldovino earlier claimed the raid at Jee’s residence in Angeles City, Pampanga was legitimate after they were made to believe that the Korean was involved in illegal drugs.
The DOJ also recommended a preliminary investigation against the respondents in connection with the illegal detention of Morquicho.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd told reporters there was no plan to get Santa Isabel as state witness. Santa Isabel is under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Aguirre said only persons who “do not appear to be the most guilty” were qualified to become state witnesses.
Speaking to reporters in Malacañang, Philippine National Police Chief Ronald de la Rosa said he would oppose a move to make Santa Isabel a state witness, saying the latter was “most guilty” in the killing.
De la Rosa said he was “very offended” with what happened to Jee. “If I had my way, I will kill the policemen involved. But I cannot do it, it’s illegal,” de la Rosa said.
“I am very sorry that this crime happened and those involved are my people,” he added.
‘Person of interest’
A retired police officer, considered a “person of interest” because he allegedly received P30,000 a few days before his funeral parlor’s embalming of the dead body of the kidnapped Korean national last year, fled the country on January 10, The Manila Times has learned.
A Caloocan barangay (village) official who requested anonymity said retired policeman Gerardo Gregorio Santiago, owner of Gream Funeral Services, went to Canada with his wife on January 10 to visit their daughter.
This was the reason Santiago was not found at the funeral parlor Wednesday night by the NBI and Caloocan City police.
Santiago, who is also chairman of Barangay Bagbaguin, took an official leave.
Santiago allegedly did not report to authorities that the body of a killed South Korean national was brought to his funeral parlor.
The NBI reported on Thursday that five employees of Gream processed Jee’s body.
Jee was allegedly transferred to and cremated at St. Nathaniel Crematory on C-3 Road in Caloocan City.
The same barangay official said Santiago owns Gream Funeral Services, but not St. Nathaniel.
The South Korean Embassy on Thursday urged Philippine authorities to conduct a comprehensive probe into the case.
“We call upon the Philippine authorities to thoroughly conduct the investigation so that the facts of the matter should be brought into light and that those responsible must be brought to justice,” it said in a statement.
“We are very much shocked that an innocent Korean businessman became a victim into the heinous crime committed by group led by police officers under the pretext of performing duties,” it added.
with NELSON BADILLA, CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO