MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The murder of a Korean businessman inside the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame is a wake-up call that PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa should not ignore, senators said Friday, January 20.
The brazen incident, which happened 3 months ago but was only uncovered this week, indicates police abuse of the government’s war on drugs, Senator Panfilo Lacson, retired PNP chief and Dela Rosa’s former boss, said in a statement.
An embarrassed Dela Rosa admitted to media Thursday, January 19, that South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo was killed inside Camp Crame hours after he was abducted by cops from his home in Angeles City on October 18, 2016.
A Department of Justice (DOJ) probe showed that Jee was strangled to death at Crame before his remains were brought to a Caloocan City crematorium. At least 2 police officers have been indicted for the killing.
The Jee family’s house helper told DOJ investigators that she and Jee were brought to Crame by men identifying themselves as cops, on the pretext they were being investigated for illegal drugs.
“This is probably the most unwelcome wake-up call for Director General Ronald de la Rosa,” Lacson said. “Priority must be against those who take advantage of the president's all-out, mostly bloody war against illegal drugs.”
Remember Supt Marcos?
Even Senator Francis Escudero, who’s been largely quiet, issued a statement, calling the murder at Crame “not only embarrassing” but “outright wrong and unacceptable.”
He said this is what happens when the government handles with “kid gloves” abusive police officers, recalling how the Duterte administration defended a controvesial police official, Superintendent Marvin Marcos, who was linked to the killing of a mayor in jail.
President Rodrigo Duterte had come to the defense of Marcos despite a National Investigation Bureau probe declaring the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinoa Sr last year a “rubout.”
Senator Win Gatchalian said the Korean businessman's murder puts in doubt the “integrity of the police and the legitimacy of their anti-crime mission.”
He added: "I am one with the President in the fight against crime, but we must also face a brutal fact: we will lose this fight if the people lose faith in our police force. We simply cannot let this happen.”
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, an administration ally, said in a news briefing on Friday that it's "so sad, tragic, and inexcusable to use a government program to commit abuse."
Cayetano, however, came to Dela Rosa's defense. He said the PNP chief, like other heads of agencies, could not possibly keep a close watch over all of his personnel.
"Personally, I believe in command responsibility but command responsibility has several levels. I think any head of any agency that is being reformed, cannot keep watch over 125,000 personnel," he said in a mix of Filipino and English.
"I'm not calling for his courtesy or irreevocable resignation because I think he's doing a good job. I want to wait for the investigation. And I think it is certian people under him who have to take the responsibility because malayo pa hanggang pagdating sa kanya (there are a lot of layers before it reaches his level)," Cayetano added.
The DOJ has recommended the filing of kidnaping and murder charges against two police officers – Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta Isabel and Senior Police Officer 4 Roy Villegas – and several others for the killing of Jee.
The Duterte administration has been waging an intense war on drugs that has caused the killing of more than 6,000 Filipinos in 6 months, prompting criticism that the policy has emboldened the police and created a culture of impunity. – Rappler.com