Kidnapping, robbery charges eyed vs Korean tipster in Pampanga

TIPSTER? Thomas Jung, the Korean identified by Central Luzon Police as working with scalawag cops, attends the case conference with investigators on January 31, 2017, to file his statements as a witness. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

TIPSTER? Thomas Jung, the Korean identified by Central Luzon Police as working with scalawag cops, attends the case conference with investigators on January 31, 2017, to file his statements as a witness.

Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

ANGELES CITY, Philippines – The Central Luzon Police recommended the filing of kidnap for ransom and robbery charges against "Thomas" Jung (real name Jung Young Hun) over his involvement in the illegal arrest and extortion of  3 Korean tourists in December 2016.

Regional police chief Chief Superintendent Aaron Aquino told Rappler in a phone interview on Wednesday, February 8, that statements gathered from 6 of the 7 policemen point to Jung as a conspirator in the crime.

Jung was previously a witness in the case against local cops, being the one who helped the tourists produce the P300,000 to pay the police. However, Aquino hinted then that Jung may have been working as a tipster to corrupt cops and earning his share from illegal operations.(READ: Korean 'tipster' working with corrupt cops – Central Luzon Police)

Aquino said Wednesday that from the P300,000 paid by the Korean tourists, Jung got P30,000. 

The local cops pointed to their former station commander Chief Inspector Wendel Arinas as the mastermind, who got P135,000, while the 7 policemen got P17,000 each.

That there is a remaining P16,000 is prompting police investigators to look into the role of the tourists' house maid identified as Lucilyn Torres. Torres remains a witness in the case in the meantime.

Blaming former commander

Aquino said he has instructed the Pampanga Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to get Jung and Arinas' statements and consequently file similar charges against them. (READ: Korean returns to PH to file case vs extortion cops)

According to Aquino, PO3 Roentjen Domingo, the team leader of the police group, said Arinas was tipped off by one "alias Balong" of the tourists' whereabouts in Angeles. The group then raided the tourists' house on illegal online gambling allegations.

"Pero wala naman talagang illegal online gambling operations, dalawang laptop lang ang nahanap, for personal use 'yun probably. At saka wala silang warrant kaya paano nila masasabing legitimate?" Aquino said.

(There really was no illegal online gambling operations, they only found two laptops there which were probably for personal use. And they didn't have a warrant so how can they say their operation was legitimate?)

Aquino also said that Jung was not necessarily connected to the Korean victims who asked for his help in withdrawing money to give to the police.

"Jung is very well-known in the Korean community here. Kapag may Koreano na nagka problema sa pulis man o ano, si Jung agad ang tinatawagan," Aquino said.

(Jung is very well-known in the Korean community here. When a Korean runs into a problem here, whether it's police-related or not, they automatically call Jung.)

Sources from the Korean community told Rappler that Jung has been missing since he filed a statement as a witness on January 12. 

"To my knowledge, nasa Angeles pa siya, hindi rin naman natin siya puwedeng arestuhin kasi walang warrant. Pero kung nakalabas man siya ng bansa, ipapa-monitor natin," Aquino said.

(To my knowledge, he's still in Angeles, but we cannot arrest him without a warrant. But if he's been able to leave the country, we'll have him monitored.)

Jung's mobile number could no longer be reached.

The involvement of a Korean national in a crime committed against other Koreans is prompting questions on whether the same is true in the case of slain businessman Jee Ick Joo.

An unnamed police officer told the Inquirer that a "Korean mafia" is behind the murder of Jee.

"We are not investigating the Jee case that's why we cannot comment. Pero sa malalaking kaso ng pagpatay somehow mayroon e (But in big murder cases, somehow there's bound to be a Korean involved)," said Aquino, citing the case of 3 murdered Koreans in Bacolor, Pampanga in October 2016, where two of the suspects arrested were also Koreans. (READ: Koreans and crime in Angeles City)

Chief Inspector Lee Ji Hoon, the Korean police officer heading their own desk inside the CIDG office in Angeles, does not deny the existence of a Korean mafia in the country.

Since his deployment in the country in 2015, he has arrested 18 Korean fugitives. But according to him, there is no evidence so far that could indicate that a Korean mafia was behind Jee's murder.

"No mafia behind that case, as far as I know. And no correlation with online gambling in that case. [It's a] wrong direction [in the investigation], I think," Lee told Rappler in a text message. – Rappler.com 

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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