PHILIPPINE National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Tuesday ordered seven policemen placed under restricted custody robbing and extorting money from three Korean golfers in Angeles City on Dec. 30, 2016.
“There were three Koreans who arrived here just to play golf… [T]heir houses were raided by policemen on the pretext that they were involved in illegal online gaming,” Dela Rosa said.
After the raid failed to establish any evidence against the Koreans, the lawmen robbed them of their personal belongings including their shoes, Dela Rosa said.
After they were robbed, the three Koreans were then brought to police station where they were made to pay the policemen P200,000.
The incident surfaced after the Koreans filed a complaint before the Police Region Office 3 headquarters in San Fernando City, Pampanga.
The three visiting Korean golfers hurriedly left the country after that.
Dela Rosa identified the seven policemen as PO3s Arnold Nagayo, Gomerson Evangelista, and Roentjen Domingo; PO2s Richard King and Ruben Rodriguez; and PO1s Jayson Ibe and Mark Joseph Pineda, all assigned to the city’s police station.
Also ordered relieved was Chief Insp. Wendel Arinas, commander of Station 5 and his deputy Senior Insp. Rolando Yutuc for command responsibility.
Dela Rosa said the affidavit of the three Koreans will be used for the filling of an administrative case against the accused lawmen for their eventual dismissal from the police service.
The three robbery victims bring to five the number of Asian visitors to have fallen victim to crooked policemen.
Just last week, authorities uncovered the kidnap and murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo, who was abducted at his house by rogue policemen and later strangled right inside Camp Crame.
On Tuesday, Dela Rosa said all personnel in the Anti-Illegal Drug Group and Anti-Kidnapping Group would be subjected to a background investigation.
“If they have problems, we’ll remove them,” Dela Rosa said.
The office of the AIDG was tainted after one of its officers, Supt. Raphael Dumlao, was implicated in the Jee case.
Dela Rosa organized the AIDG soon after he was named PNP chief last July 1.
There would also be a reshuffle in the AKG because of the slow resolution of the Jee case, Dela Rosa said. The chief of the unit, Senior Supt. Glenn Dumlao, will retain his post, however.
Dela Rosa urged law enforcers to give their full commitment to their mission and remember to put the “PNP before self.”
“I will redeem myself, you will see in the next days,” Dela Rosa said, saying there would be a top-to-bottom revamp of the police organization to cleanse the ranks of scalawags and intensify the fight against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.
He said the President has prevailed upon him to stay in office as PNP chief despite calls for his resignation over the Jee case.
Malacañang on Tuesday apologized to the family of Jee, who allegedly died at the hands of rogue, and scored Senator Leila de Lima for suggesting that President Rodrigo Duterte tolerated impunity within the PNP ranks.
“We wish to take this occasion to express the condolences and sympathies of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Filipino people to Mrs. Choi Kyung-jin, the widow of Jee Ick Joo, the South Korean who met untimely death in police custody,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“We apologize to the South Korean government and the South Korean people for this irreparable loss,” he added.
The Palace likewise vowed that Manila will do everything to deliver swift justice for Jee.
“We commit the full force of law to ensure that justice is served and not delayed. To the Korean people, please accept our sincerest and deepest regrets,” he said.
PO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, the policeman accused in the killing, allegedly led a group of men who forcibly took Jee and his Filipina househelp from his house in Angeles City, Pampanga, in October last year, in the guise of an anti-illegal drugs operation.
The Korean was brought to Camp Crame and strangled before his remains were brought to a funeral home in Caloocan, the Justice Department confirmed last week.
The kidnappers demanded a ransom from the victim’s wife and she initially paid P5 million, thinking he was still alive.
The incident has shocked and angered the South Korean government, with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se demanding those behind the crime be brought to justice. The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier promised to the South Korean government speedy resolution of Jee’s case.
A witness said it was Sta. Isabel who strangled Jee inside Camp Crame on the same day the victim was kidnapped. Although Jee’s body was never found, government authorities were able to locate the funeral parlor where his remains were taken.
Several groups have also accused Duterte of promoting a culture of impunity with his repeated promises to protect cops from prosecution if they are charged with murder for killing a drug suspect. Critics likewise cited Jee’s death as proof that the Duterte administration and PNP chief Dela Rosa have lost control of the police.
In the same briefing, Abella described as “over imaginative” De Lima’s claim that President Duterte’s equivocal support to Dela Rosa has created culture of impunity among the PNP ranks.
“I think it’s not fair. The culture [of impunity] is there. It was existing even before the President came in. In fact, that’s exactly why we came in to address that particular culture,” Abella said.
The incident has also fueled suspicions of human rights groups that the police are using the Duterte administration’s controversial drug war as a smokescreen for other crimes like kidnap-for-ransom.
Abella, who reiterated that there is systemic corruption within the government, said that these incidents maybe part of the operations against Duterte.
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