The Daily Manila Shimbun


Duterte apologizes for the death of South Korean inside Camp Crame

January 26, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte apologized on Thursday for the murder of a South Korean businessman allegedly at the hands of policemen at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame.

"I apologize for the death of your compatriot," Duterte said in a speech during the switch-on ceremony of a power plant in Sarangani province where South Korean executives were in the audience.

"We are very sorry that it had to happen. But I can assure you those responsible are known to us already and they will have to go to prison," Duterte stressed.

Duterte said he would make sure those responsible for Jee's death would be sentenced "to the maximum."

A few days after it was confirmed that businessman Jee Ick-ju was dead three months after he was abducted in his home in Angeles City, Pampanga, government prosecutors last week found probable cause to file kidnapping for ransom with homicide charges against SPO3 Ricky Sta Isabel, SPO4 Roy Villegas, Ramon Yalung and several John Does

Policemen, reportedly suspected Jee as being involved in illegal drugs, was taken from his home in Angeles City, Pampanga on October 18,. Jee was allegedly strangled to death by these policemen inside Camp Crame the same day..

Jee’s widow, Choi Kyung-jin, told a Senate hearing through an interpreter, that she will not leave the country until justice has been served.

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa said he is surprised how some policemen have become so brazen to commit these crimes.

“All indications point to an elaborate web of criminal activity by some police personnel operating under the cover of legitimate police operations,” said dela Rosa in his opening statement at the Senate hearing.

Lacson said incidents like this casts a shadow over the illegal drugs campaign which  was begun by Duterte.

In Camp Crame, a group of Koreans laid flowers and offered prayers near the office of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group. This was supposedly near the place were Jee was allegedly strangled to death Oct 18, the day of his abduction.

Despite being “afraid” and “little bit worried”, Charlie Shin, executive vice president of the United Korean Community in the Philippines, said:”The government is starting to do something. We are still waiting for the Philippines to solve this problem.”

He was allegedly a victim of kidnap for ransom under the guise of "tokhang,"  which is government's campaign on illegal drugs.

If only there is death penalty in the country, Duterte said the perpetrators would be executed through hanging.

Duterte has been pushing for the revival of death penalty.

Lacson said this “tokhang” for ransom which claimed Jee is not isolated as the representative of the local Chinese community showed 12 cases which happened last year.

Sta. Isabel, one of the suspects in the Jee kidnap-slay case, insisted he was innocent and pinned the blame on his superiors. He pleaded with Lacson to be allowed to play a voice recording where his conversation with Superintendent Rafael Dumlao was recorded.

Lacson refused, pointing out that Sta. Isabel had to get the permission of those persons whose conversation he recorded.

Dumlao and the other officials insisted Jee was not a target of their illegal drugs operations. They presented Sta. Isabel’s statement of assets, net worth and liabllities for 2015 showing he had P14 million in assets while his monthly pay was P8,000. Sta. Isabel said his wife was a good businesswoman.

Dela Rosa said that their case against Sta. Isabel, who has not even given his counter-affidavit, is “overwhelming” but the issue is being muddled. DMS/Celerina Monte