'Missing' cop tagged in Korean kidnap case was in Crame all along

MANILA, Philippines – He's the subject of manhunt operations led by several police units but Senior Police Officer 3 (SPO3) Ricky Sta Isabel on Thursday, January 12, said in a television interview that he has been at Camp Crame – the national police headquarters – all along.

Sta Isabel has been tagged in the kidnapping of a South Korean businessman in Angeles City back in October last year. Police investigators earlier identified the suspects in the apparent kidnapping through security camera footage taken during the abduction.

Speaking to ABS-CBN News, Sta Isabel denied any links to the kidnapping of the Korean businessman. (READ: Manhunt on for cop linked to kidnapping of Korean businessman)

"'Di ako nagtatago, handa ako humarap sa kahit anong kaso gusto nilang isampa sa akin (I'm not in hiding. I'm ready to face whatever case they want to file against me)," said the cop, who has been in the police service for more than two decades.

He was reassigned to the Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit of Camp Crame almost a month after the businessman went missing.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa earlier announced the deployment of several police units to hunt down Sta Isabel, who was reportedly nowhere to be found. But Sta Isabel said he never went into hiding.

Dela Rosa's orders came after the man’s wife and Korean embassy officials personally sought his help. The police said the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) have both been tapped to look for the cop.

The Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG), which Sta Isabel used to be part of, was also tasked to look for him.

The businessman's abductors demanded a P5-million ransom, which his family paid. They are asking for another P4.5 million. An earlier Inquirer report said the cop supposedly used the police's anti-illegal drugs campaign as a cover in the abduction.

But Sta Isabel insists he was not involved in the case and pointed out an initial police report that said 3 unidentified Korean nationals took the businessman.

"May sindikato diyan sa AKG. Sila 'yung kumuha ng ransom at 'yung sinasabi nila (There's a syndicate in the AKG. They took the ransom that they are talking about)," said the cop.

Amid an apparent manhunt against him, Sta Isabel filed his resignation from the PNP on Thursday. Still, he insists he's going to face any possible cases against him. – Rappler.com