News of the murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo by a rouge policeman exploded in social media culminating in the call for Philippine National Police Chief General Bato dela Rosa’s resignation.
According to news reports based on the findings of the Department of Justice, police officers arrested the businessman purportedly in line with this government’s war on drugs using a fake warrant of arrest. The officers demanded P8 million in ransom but Jee was killed by strangling on the very same day. Jee’s family paid P5 million without knowing that he was already dead. The murder happened inside Camp Crame, the PNP’s headquarters. The testimony of accused Senior Police Officer 4 Roy Villegas pointed to SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel as Jee’s murderer.
Tokhang, an operation conducted by the PNP to ferret out users and peddlers of illegal drugs in communities has been turned into a money-making scheme by the bad eggs in the police force. Tokhang for ransom is the name of the “game.”
The case of Jee Ick-Joo is just one. Teresita Ang See of the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order, in a separate report, has revealed that she knows of at least 11 cases of police officers involved in illegal activities using anti-drug operations as their cover. According to her, these officers extorted money or demanded ransom from Chinese nationals in exchange for them not to face drug-related charges even if the victims were not involved in drugs.
I personally know Ang See from way back as a courageous anti-crime advocate. Her credibility cannot be questioned. She is a respected leader of the Tsinoy community and, therefore, has access to important information pertaining to Chinese-Filipinos, and Chinese nationals in the country.
Ang See spoke of several cases of police abuse. In one, she said that the Chinese national arrived in the country on Nov. 6 and arrested on Nov. 7 making it impossible for the police to do preliminary work in ascertaining the victim’s involvement in illegal drugs. The victim’s family allegedly paid P1 million (of the demanded P3 million) on Nov. 9 to make the “case” go away.
In another case, the police stormed the victim’s store accusing him of selling fake goods. When this was disproven, the police “confiscated” goods with the threat that the victim could be charged with possession of illegal drugs and that they could claim that the store was a front for illegal drug trade. The victim was brought to the police station but released through the intervention of MRPO. Still, the rouge police officers demanded P100 thousand. The victim gave them P10 thousand.
Still in another case, a Chinese national was arrested and detained in the Ongpin police station. Ang See claimed that CCTV footages showed police officers withdrawing money from an ATM using the victim’s ATM card.
Certainly, because information on these cases are second-hand, it is important that an honest to goodness investigation is done. Ang See expressed willingness to help and this should be welcomed by those mandated to look into these problems.
The murder of Korean businessman Jee, as well as the abuses on Chinese nationals (if Ang See is to be believed) show that this war on drugs spearheaded by no less than President Duterte is being used by scalawags in the police force for their own illegal purposes dubbed as “tokhang for ransom.”
From the time that news about Jee’s killing broke until the South Korean government issued statement demanding justice for its national, President Duterte has yet to issue any statement on the matter. This is quite interesting given Digong’s unwavering support to the police force especially in relation with his “war on drugs.”
It will be remembered that despite the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that the late Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was killed by personnel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group inside his prison cell, the President still sided with the police and said that he would not allow any policeman to be jailed.
PNP Chief Bato said that the killing of Jee by his men in their police headquarters has put the country to shame. If the cases mentioned by Ang See get verified, Chief Bato’s headache is much bigger. This should also be the President’s problem. After all, Digong sees his friendship with China as important.
This administration is already being severely criticized by human rights groups because of the more than 6,100 killings, without due process, of suspected drug users and pushers in this fight against illegal drugs. Ordinary people are scared because anybody can be a victim of mistaken identity, and get killed. And now, foreigners are also abused and killed by rouge police officers.
Apologizing to South Korea is a correct move by General Bato. However, this is not enough. Jee, like the other victims of this war against drug must be accorded justice. Those criminals in uniform must face the consequences of their actions. South Korea’s demand for justice must be addressed by this government.
I will not be surprised if South Korea will caution its citizens who want to visit here. We must remember that Koreans make up the single biggest tourist group to the country. Also remember that South Korea is the Philippines’ fifth biggest trading partner. It is to our interest that Jee’s murderers get what they deserve.
I will not be surprised if other countries also issue warnings to their citizens about visiting the country. After all, if we can kill more than 6,000 Filipinos on mere suspicion of being drug addicts and/or pushers, how hard is it to extort money from, kidnap, or even kill foreigners?
There are many good men and women among our police force. But they are all overshadowed by those who choose to commit crimes while in uniform. We need Gen. Bato to clean the PNP of scalawags. We need President Duterte to stop his policemen from being the killing machines that a number of them have become.
The President must stop siding with the rouge men in uniform and order a stop to tokhang for ransom.
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