DOJ indicts cops for kidnap, death of Korean businessman

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended the filing of kidnapping for ransom with homicide charges against two police officers and several others in connection with the abduction and death of Korean business executive Jee Ick Joo.

Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta Isabel, Senior Police Officer 4 Roy Villegas, Ramon Yalung, and several John Does are facing kidnapping for ransom with homicide charges, according to the DOJ.

The DOJ in its 7-page resolution said that the respondents failed to provide evidence denying their participation in the crime.

It concluded that Jee was strangled to death while inside Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police.

Based on the DOJ's preliminary investigation, two unidentified men took Jee and house helper Marisa Morquicho from the Korean businessman's house in Pampanga on October 18, 2016.

Morquicho said in her affidavit that the men introduced themselves as police officers and ordered her to accompany them to Jee's room. They reportedly told her that Jee was involved in illegal drug activities.

When they arrived in Camp Crame, Morquicho said she was transferred to Sta Isabel's car and eventually released.

In his affidavit, Villegas said while inside Camp Crame, he heard Sta Isabel talking to a certain "Sir Dumlao" and overheard him say, "Sir, ang alam ko ay kilala 'nyo ang mga taong ito dahil ang pagkakaalam ko ay sanction 'nyo ito (Sir, what I know is you know these people because what I know is you sanctioned this)."

Villegas said Sta Isabel was the one who brought packaging tape and surgical gloves and ordered them to cover the head of Jee. He also reportedly told them to follow him, instead of "Dumlao."

The full name of "Dumlao" is not mentioned in the DOJ resolution. Superintendent Raphael Dumlao is Sta Isabel's team leader at the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG).

"He finally recalls seeing respondent Sta Isabel strangling and killing the victim," the DOJ said in its resolution.

After the victim was killed, Villegas said Sta Isabel called a certain "Ding" who agreed to receive the body in exchange for P30,000 and a golf set. The body was then brought to a funeral parlor in Caloocan.

The DOJ said Villegas "thought all along that the surveillance and police operations which he participated in are legitimate police operations."

"When he realized it, he did not resist and instead, he obeyed the instruction of respondent Sta Isabel for fear of his life and that of his family," the DOJ said.

Despite having no warrants issued against him, Sta Isabel earlier surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Jee's family reportedly paid a ransom of P5 million for his release two weeks after his abduction, but he had already been strangled to death on the same day he was snatched from his home.

Jee's remains were reportedly burned to ashes in a crematorium owned by one of the gang, a former police officer, said an official at Seoul's foreign ministry, citing the Philippine inquiry's findings. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com