NBI, PNP now probing ‘Korean mafia’ involvement in S. Korean kidnap-slay case

MANILA -- Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday said that the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation are jointly looking into the possible involvement of an alleged "Korean mafia" in connection to the kidnap-slay of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo.

"Every angle and theory will be covered by the joint investigation. Wala pa naman tayong definite conclusion doon so I believe the investigation will continue," Aguirre told reporters.

NBI Director Dante Gierran and PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa met last week at the office of Senator Panfilo Lacson. The two have agreed to conduct a joint investigation to solve Jee's abduction and killing.

For the police, the team leader will be Senior Supt. Glenn Dumlao, head of PNP's Anti-Kidnapping Group and for the NBI, the team leader will be NBI Assistant Director Atty. Medardo Delemos.

Aguirre said they have already contacted the South Korean Embassy in Manila for information on the Korean mafia allegedly operating in the country adding that when he was still serving as chief legal counsel and vice president of the Clark Development Corporation in 2013, he also heard about the existence of the said syndicate.

"As a matter of fact, our office is coordinating and contacting the Korean Embassy na kung merong silang police attache or anything to that effect, baka makatulong to shed light on this Korean mafia if ever it exists. Kasi noong ako'y five months pa sa Clark Dev't noong 2013, narinig ko na yang Korean versus Korean," he explained.

Asked if there are other South Koreans involved in the incident, Aguirre said investigation is still ongoing and there is information the possibility of involvement of some Koreans.

"Meron mga information na talagang pupwedeng merong Koreans involved na syndicate. Masyadong premature to divulge," he said.

"Meron pero hindi mo maaaring i-divulge muna ngayon kasi matagal ko nang narinig yan koreans vs Koreans even tulad nung ako'y nasa clark development, cdc, for five months, march to august, meron na akong naririnig na ganyan," he added.

He noted there are lot angles are looking into but of course there is nothing final about this and it appears a lot of theory coming until the probe is not yet done and to get concrete evidence.

Asked if this was fueled by the claim of Supt. Rafael Dumlao, one of the accused in the case, that there are persons behind Jee's kidnap-slay that are more powerful than the PNP, Aguirre it is just Dumlao's theory and he has yet to present evidence to back up his claim.

"Ang sinasabi lang nya di ba mabigat ang kalaban nyo kasi malakas sila, maimpluwensya at marami pero wala naman syang sinasabi na Koreans ang nasa likod nitp. Kaya yun ay theory pa lang at dapat saliksikin pa ng investigating teams," he said.

Aguirre stressed that there is a need to explain why Jee was killed if the reason or motive was for him to be kidnapped and later ransomed by his family.

Asked if this would affect the case against the respondents, the DOJ chief said at the end it would still up to the court to weigh the evidence presented to it.

"It's up to the court but it is without prejudice to any additional evidence to show who are the other participants," he said adding that at this point, the investigations are going well.

Last Friday, the Department of Justice panel composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutors Juan Pedro Navera and Olivia Torrevillas conducted the first preliminary investigation on charges of kidnapping for ransom with homicide against former PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group - Pampanga (AIDG) head Superintendent Rafael Dumlao III and seven others.

Dumlao, the alleged mastermind of kidnap-slay case is the only respondent not present during the reinvestigation.

Present during the hearing were seven respondents in the case, namely, SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, SPO4 Roy Villegas, PO2 Christopher Baldovino, Gerardo Santiago, Jerry Omlang, Ramon Yalung, and Alan Gruenberg.

Instead, Dumlao sent his representative, lawyer Ricardo Moldez II, at the hearing venue due to "security reasons".

The panel of prosecutors gave the complainant the Philippine National Police-Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) together with NBI to submit all the documents in the current case as well as their pleadings within five days.

The DOJ panel set the next hearing on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. where the respondents are set to file their respective counter-affidavits in response to the accusations against them.

Also present in the hearing was Jee's wife Kyujin Choi, accompanied by her lawyer Bryan Bantilan, and Jee's maid Marisa Morquicho.

During the hearing, Bantillan asked the panel to include charges of carnapping and robbery against the respondents.

Bantillan, who also accompanied Choi during the proceedings, pointed out that during the abduction that took place on October 18, "personal property was taken and a motor vehicle also taken."

Jee's wife, Choi Kyunghin, 53, said his husband was forcibly taken by eight armed men on Oct. 18 from his residence and had not been located until now.

His family paid PHP5 million ransom money on Oct. 30 but he was never released.

The abductors asked for an additional PHP4 million but failed to produce proof that the victim was still alive, prompting Choi to seek police's assistance. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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