MANILA – The Department of Justice said Thursday it has found probable cause to file kidnap for ransom and serious illegal detention charges against several police officers linked to the kidnap-slay of a Korean businessman last October.
Ordered charged are SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, Ramon Yalung and several John Does, such as alias "Pulis" and "Jerry".
The victim, Jee Ick-joo, was forcibly taken from his residence in Angeles City, Pampanga on October 18, 2016, allegedly by a group of policemen led by Sta. Isabel.
His wife, Choi Kyung Jin, claimed Jee's abductors initially demanded P5-million ransom, which she paid. The kidnappers, however, did not release Jee and asked for another P4.5 million.
According to information obtained by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), who has protective custody over Sta. Isabel following his surrender to the agency, Jee was killed on the same day he was abducted and his remains cremated in a crematorium.
His abductors, however, made his wife believe that he was still alive for months as they extorted money from her.
The kidnappers' leader, reportedly a retired police general, allegedly ordered the cremation.
The supposed "operation" in Ji's residence was on the guise of government's campaign against illegal drugs.
CREMATORIUM OWNER A ‘PERSON OF INTEREST’
The NBI is now considering a barangay chairman in Caloocan City who owns the crematorium where Jee’s ashes were found as a person of interest.
Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan said the funeral parlor’s owner, Barangay 165 chairman Gerardo Santiago, filed a leave of absence from January 10 to February 10.
The Department of Justice, citing Immigration records, confirmed that Santiago flew to Vancouver, Canada on January 11 on board Philippine Airlines flight PR-118.
Santiago left the country on the same day that Jee's wife sought help from Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa about the abduction of her husband.
According to Malapitan, Santiago retired in 2007 from the Northern Police District, where he had worked with SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel. – report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News; with AFP