By Julius Leonen
and Mario J. Mallari
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has maintained that the National Bureau of Investigation will continue its probe into the abduction and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo despite the widow’s call for the NBI to desist from the ongoing investigation.
During the second preliminary investigation into the kidnap-slay case last Thursday, Jee’s widow Choi Kyungjin asked President Rodrigo Duterte to instruct the NBI to remove itself from the probe.
In a chance interview yesterday, Aguirre told reporters that the NBI has already obtained enough evidence to pursue the case and that the bureau may no longer be able to withdraw from the investigation.
“It was already discussed at the NBI. They are not, more or less at this stage, likely to withdraw from this case. They already have leads that they should pursue,” he stressed.
Aguirre said he will no longer issue a separate order for the NBI to continue with its probe, “because I have already issued it. It’s no longer necessary.”
Also, Aguirre told radio dzMM in an interview that he already consulted the NBI and its principal officers who had said “they have already gathered so much evidence from the persons who had surrendered to them.”SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, who was tagged as an alleged mastermind, and Jerry Omlang, an errand boy at the NBI Headquarters who participated in the operation, are currently in the custody of the NBI.
“They have documentary and real evidence, such as the cracked container of Jee Ick Joo’s ashes. It’s with the NBI now. After all, the NBI would withdraw if the President wants to, but the NBI had decided to pursue the investigation,” Aguirre said.
“The investigation has already gone so far (for them to withdraw), and let’s take note of Senator (Panfilo) Lacson’s advice regarding the two investigating teams,” Aguirre said. “The teams should continue with what they’re doing keep the case strong.”
Jee’s wife no longer trusts NBI
In a letter to Mr. Duterte dated February 3, Choi said she no longer trusts the NBI to carry out an impartial investigation following the news that several high-ranking NBI personnel may have been involved in the case.
Choi had also informed NBI Director Dante Gierran that she is withdrawing the complaints she had filed at the agency.
Aguirre has recently ordered a reshuffle of several top officials at the NBI.
“With the news that several high-ranking NBI personnel might also be involved, the NBI and PNP have agreed to conduct a joint investigation of the case. However, I am afraid that this will only further delay the speedy resolution that you promised,” she said.
Choi said this after she learned from reports that Police Supt. Rafael Dumlao III, who was alleged by Sta. Isabel and Omlang as the real mastermind in Jee’s killing, said there are NBI agents or personnel involved in the kidnap-slay scandal.
“In this regard, I would like to request that instead of this joint NBI-PNP task force, the investigation be carried on by the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) for the simple reason that I do not trust the NBI to carry out an impartial investigation,” she stressed.
Sta. Isabel and Omlang, however, insisted that no NBI agent nor personnel took part in the brutal kidnap-slay of the South Korean businessman.
More Korean police desks
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP), in coordination with the Korean National Police Agency (KNPA), is eyeing to add seven more Korean police desk to cater to cases involving South Koreans in various parts of the Philippines.
Currently, the PNP has seven Korean police desks scattered all over the country where there are concentrations of South Koreans. The assistance centers were put up in coordination with the KNPA.
Among the areas where there are huge numbers of South Koreans are Cebu, Boracay, Angeles City, Davao City, Subic and Baguio City.
PNP Director General Ronald de la Rosa said the KNPA is inclined to establish three to seven more police desks.
In Pampanga, de la Rosa said the provincial government, headed by Gov. Lilia Pineda, vowed to hire more interpreters dedicated to the Korean community in the province.
Last Oct. 18, Jee was kidnapped by elements of the PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG), allegedly led by Sta. Isabel, at his residence in Angeles City.
Jee was subsequently taken to Camp Crame where he was allegedly strangled to death by Sta. Isabel.
Despite killing Jee, the group of Sta. Isabel demanded P5-million ransom. The victim’s family paid but to release was made. The suspects asked for additional P4.5 million, prompting Jee’s wife to report to the PNP.
The chief PNP assured the Korean community of their safety while in the country.
“We give them reassurance, by all means, that they will be safe here in our place,” said de la Rosa.