MANILA - Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday described as "wishful thinking" the remarks of an international human rights group against the Philippine government following the killing of a South Korean businessman by policemen.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday the kidnapping and killing of Ick-joo Jee by police officers was "an ominous indicator of the breakdown of rule of law under President Rodrigo Duterte" in the wake of his war on drugs.
HRW said Filipino policemen have been emboldened and believe they can get away with murder since Duterte promised immunity for men in uniform who kill in the name of his drug war.
Aguirre, however, said Jee's death was an "isolated" incident, and stressed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is committed to act on any complaint involving law enforcers who abuse their authority.
"The fact is that the perpetrators are being brought to answer for their crimes. The National Bureau of Investigation will dig deeper into the incident to further expose those who are involved," Aguirre said in a text message.
On Thursday, the DOJ indicted before an Angeles City, Pampanga trial court SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel and several others for kidnapping for ransom with homicide in relation to Jee’s case.
Police officers, led by Sta. Isabel, kidnapped Jee last October 18, in a raid in his residence over his alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
Sta. Isabel reportedly strangled Jee to death inside Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP), and received ransom of P5 million from Jee's wife Choi Kyung Jin two weeks later. According to authorities, Jee was killed on the same day he was kidnapped.