File photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler
At the end of a hearing that saw clashing narratives between cops and investigators, it was former national police chief Senator Panfilo Lacson who showed a video with a narrative that might be difficult to dispute.
On Thursday, January 26, during a hearing into the death of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo at the hands of police, Lacson showed closed circuit television (CCTV) footage of several men placing illegal drugs on desks of an office building right before raiding it.
“These are police officers,” noted Lacson as the video kept playing.
The men, wearing baseball caps and hoodies, are seen in the office with one cop apparently putting something from his bag and onto the desks. Lacson said this happened in October 2016.
Lacson, a Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduate, said this isn't an isolated case. The only reason it's not in police blotters is that the victims are too scared to report them, he said.
When national police chief Ronald dela Rosa asked where the incident happened so they could investigate, Lacson declined to give an answer. Sources privy to the case said it happened in Metro Manila.
After the hearing, Dela Rosa ordered Albert Ferro, the chief of the police’s anti-illegal drugs group, to meet with Lacson to get details of the incident.
“Sabi ko kailangan ma-restore ang trust muna (Like I said, the police needs to restore the public’s trust). There was a time the Filipino Chinese community… they were reporting kidnapping cases. Pero ngayon nawala nga yan. So kailangan ma-restore ang trust before ma-solve ang issue na ganito (But that’s not happening anymore. So you need to restore the public’s trust before these issues can be resolved),” explained Lacson in a chance interview after the hearing.
The abduction and murder of Jee is only the latest in a string of controversies to hit Philippine police as it wages a popular but controversial war on drugs.
The South Korean businessman was abducted from his home in Angeles City on October 18 by cops who apparently did it in the guise of an anti-illegal drugs operation. He was killed – inside Camp Crame, the national police headquarters – and cremated the same day he was kidnapped.