THE Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) has formally asked the House of Representatives to conduct an investigation into the killing of a South Korean shipping official by police right inside Camp Crame.
In a letter to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, VACC founding chairman Dante Jimenez urged the House to focus on the means used by the suspects in getting rid of the body of the victim.
The VACC expressed alarm over authorities’ findings that South Korean executive Jee Ick Joo was killed by his kidnappers, who later demanded ransom, to eliminate evidence.
Jee and his househelp were abducted by a group of armed men including members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) last October 18 in Pampanga.
Investigators found that Jee was killed by strangulation by Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Santa Isabel in a car parked inside the Camp Crame headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
His remains were then brought to a funeral parlor owned by a retired policeman in Caloocan City, then cremated in a nearby crematorium.
“This is clearly a move on the part of the suspects to permanently conceal the crime,” Jimenez said in his letter to Alvarez.
The VACC chief said the case of Jee showed that kidnap-for-ransom syndicates were carrying out their criminal
activities with impunity, and were becoming more creative in evading prosecution.
Such modus operandi will have serious repercussions on the country’s “system of laws,” he said.
A full House inquiry, Jimenez said, would help legislators in crafting measures to prevent criminal syndicates from undermining the government’s anti-crime efforts by using the principle of “corpus delicti,” or concrete evidence of a crime such as a dead body, as a defense in court.
In Jee’s case, it was reported that after the body of the victim was cremated, the ashes were flushed in the toilet.
The VACC said it would request the government to temporary suspend the operations of all crematoriums until clear guidelines are crafted against their use to conceal murders.
On Sunday, Sen. Panfilo Lacson also called for a congressional probe and warned that the repeated involvement of police officers in criminal activities was an indication of a breakdown in police discipline that, if not addressed immediately, could eventually lead to the collapse of law and order.
“If this will not be stopped, there is a big possibility that we are heading that way (breakdown of law and order),” Lacson told radio station dzBB.
“I want to know if Jee’s case is the only one or there have been many victims who were also victimized by this group but decided not to file a complaint anymore…I’ve been hearing about similar cases since August and one of my friends has been a victim,” Lacson added.
No need to quit
Lacson said he saw no need for PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa to quit even if the killing happened right under his nose.
But de la Rosa should lessen his “extracurricular” activities such media appearances and focus on his job as head of the national police, Lacson said.
“I believe that he can recover, he can bounce back as long as he focuses on his job. I want to give him a chance simply because I know him quite well,” Lacson said.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Friday called for the PNP chief’s resignation, saying there was a need to restore respect to the office of the PNP chief and save President Rodrigo Duterte from embarrassment.
But the PNP chief said he would not resign unless the President tells him so. As for those criticizing him for watching a Bryan Adams concert last week, de la Rosa said the life of the Korean victim would not be brought back to life if he did not watch the concert.
Lacson retorted: “He’s (de la Rosa) missing the point entirely.”
“The issue is not about bringing back the life of the victim if he did not watch the concert, the issue is there is a problem in the PNP so that should be his priority,” the lawmaker, a former PNP chief, said.
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said that if the PNP chief had no intention to resign, he must start coming up with ways to reform the PNP, initially by getting rid of misfits and reshuffling top officials.
“Start with acknowledging that problems do exist. Then follow it up with an action plan on how to solve them. Don’t answer with excuses or alibis. This is not the time to be a denial king,” Recto said.