Pampanga cops sacked for extorting money from Koreans

ANGELES CITY, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Seven members of the Angeles City Police in Pampanga have been sacked over a robbery-extortion case involving other Korean nationals in December last year.

According to Central Luzon Police head Chief Superintendent Aaron Aquino, apart from the 7 cops, Station 5 Commander Chief Inspector Wendel Arinas and Deputy Station Commander Senior Inspector Rolando Yutuc were also relieved from their posts.

The incident happened on December 30, 2016, but only reached police authorities this month – around the same time when news broke out about the kidnap-murder case of businessman Jee Ick Joo.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa first announced it in a press conference on Monday, January 23.

The 7 cops from Angeles City Police Station 5, according to Aquino, raided a house in Sunset Estate Subdivision – near the Friendship Plaza Subdivision where Jee was abducted on October 18, 2016 – and arrested several Korean nationals without warrant for allegedly conducting illegal online gambling operations.

The cops allegedly took the Koreans' shoes, golf clubs, jewelry, and cash amounting to P150,000. Then they took them to Station 5 where the cops asked for more money. 

Aquino said the cops were able to get an additional P300,000 after the victims asked their friend to withrdaw from his ATM and deliver the cash to Station 5.

The police officers:

One of the victims was a tourist. Upon his return to Korea,he  informed the Korean embassy of the incident, which forwarded the information to police. Neither he nor his companions want to press charges.

Aquino told Rappler: "Hindi sila lumapit sa pulis; sa embassy lang sila nagsabi, kaya late din namin nalaman. Takot na takot sila sa mga pulis dito (They didn't seek the help of the police; they only told embassy officials that's why we're just finding out about it now. They were very scared of our police)."

Angeles City Police Chief Senior Superintendent Sidney Villaflor has not responded to Rappler's numerous calls and text messages as of posting time.

Both Aquino and Villaflor were at the Senate in Pasay City on Monday to attend the investigation into the online gambling operations of Fontana Casino in Clark, Pampanga owned by tycoon Jack Lam.

Aquino said he had informed Villaflor of the case. 

Senior Inspector Rolando Doroja, the new Station 5 commander, said his first order of business upon assignment in January 7  was to meet the homeowners and security staff of the subdivisions covered by his area. The exclusive subdivisions where Korean nationals reside are located in Barangay Cuayan.

"Nalulungkot po ako na may mga kasamahan kami sa Station 5 na nasangkot sa alleged extortion, but they're still innocent until proven guilty. Ginagawa po natin ang lahat para po muling maibalik ang tiwala hindi lang ng mga bisita nating Koreano kundi pati mga kababayan nating Pilipino, maibalik muli ang tiwala lalong-lalo dito sa Station 5," Doroja told Rappler.

(I am saddened that my colleagues in station 5 are involved in this alleged extortion, but they're still innocent until proven guilty. We are doing all we can to restore the trust in the police not only of Koreans but also of fellow Filipinos.)

Doroja, however, is not spared from accusations of illegal operations. Rappler has learned that there was a formal complaint filed against him in December 2015 when he was the station officer-in-charge (OIC). 

A Filipina employee of a Korean businessman accused Doroja of searching their business premises without a valid warrant and confiscating both their mobile phones as well as their guests'.

In his defense, Doroja explained that he was acting on a tip that the establishment was a prostitution den. Although he admitted that he searched the area without warrant, Doroja said they entered the premises with permission from the employee.

"'Yung cell phone po, sinurender po ng mga Koreano sa kasambahay, then siya po mismo ang nagbigay sa akin ng authority na pumasok po para maverify kung may nangyayaring illegal activities," Doroja said. 

(The Koreans surrendered their cellphones to the Filipina employee, then she gave us the authority to enter the premises to verify if there are indeed illegal activities)

The complaint is still pending with the Office of the Ombudsman, according to police sources.  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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