Pampanga governor offers P300,000-bounty for Korean fugitive

PAMPANGA, Philippines – The governor here has ordered a manhunt for the capture of a Korean inmate of the Pampanga Provincial Jail who was able to escape from 5 jail guards who were escorting him in nearby Tarlac province on Wednesday, October 16.

Governor Dennis Pineda also offered a P300,000-reward for the capture of Park Wang-yeol, 41, who was committed by the court to the Pampanga Provincial Jail in 2016 for illegal possession of firearms.

Park, who is also facing a murder case at the City of San Fernando Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 47 here, was being escorted by 5 jail guards for his supposed arraignment for illegal possession of firearms at the Tarlac City RTC Branch 64 when he escaped.

A statement issued by Pineda on Thursday, October 17, stated that the Tarlac City court reset Park's arraignment for another date. On their way back to Pampanga, the Korean and the 5 jail guards stopped by an eatery along the national road in Barangay San Rafael, Tarlac City.

The jail guards, who were supposed to be guarding Park closely, reportedly proceeded to a table to order food and allowed the Korean inmate to go by himself to the bathroom.

"After a few minutes, they discovered that the prisoner has fled using the ventilation window of the comfort room," the statement said.

Pampanga Provincial Administrator Charlie Chua said Pineda offered the P300,000 reward after Consul Lee Jin-soo of the Korean Embassy personally visited the provincial capitol on Thursday to request for the immediate capture of Park.

Chua said the Korean consul also requested that appropriate charges be filed against the 5 jail guards escorting Park.

Pineda ordered on Thursday the preventive suspension of the jail guards he identified as Randy Sibug, Clarito Mendoza, Danilo Gonzales, Danigen Aragon, and Carlito Layag – all with the rank of prison guard 1.

The 5 men have been ordered restricted inside the provincial jail while they are being investigated for the escape of the Korean inmate.

Pineda said the jail guards will be charged with infidelity in the custody of prisoner.

"At my instruction, the Pampanga police have been tracking down the whereabouts of Park," the governor said.

Park is the primary suspect in the murder of 3 Koreans, including a woman, in Barangay Maliwalo, Bacolor, Pampanga, on October 11, 2016.

He was being sought by the law after the gruesome murder was discovered but continued to elude arrest until November 17 of the same year, when Bureau of Immigration (BI) agents were able to arrest him in Paranaque City.

The Korean Embassy actively lobbied for his arrest and even requested the Interpol to issue a "red notice" against him.

But on March 6, 2017, while being detained at the BI detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Park and another Korean detainee were able to escape by forcibly opening the rooftop of their cell and scaling the fence.

He was rearrested by BI agents and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group operatives on May 27 of the same year in Tarlac City. A .38 caliber handgun was found in his possession. – Rappler.com