Funeral parlor owner tagged in Korean's 'tokhang' kidnap-slay

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2017 11:18 AM | Updated as of Jan 19 2017 01:35 PM

PLOT THICKENS: A former cop turned barangay chairman is being eyed as a person of interest in the kidnap-slay of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo after the latter's ashes were found in the funeral parlor owned by the village chief.

The National Bureau of Investigation is now considering a barangay chairman in Caloocan City as a person of interest in the kidnap-slay of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, 

Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan said Barangay 165 chairman Gerardo Santiago, who owns the funeral parlor where Jee’s remains were reportedly kept, filed a leave of absence from January 10 to February 10.

The Department of Justice, citing Immigration records, has 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. 

Sta. Isabel and several other policemen have been accused of using President Duterte's war on drugs as a cover for the kidnapping of Jee from his home in Angeles, Pampanga last October 18. 

A Seoul-based news agency, citing police sources, said the victim appeared to have been strangled to death on the same day of his abduction. 

NBI agents found Jee's ashes at the Gream Funeral Homes owned by Santiago. 

The kidnappers' leader, reportedly a retired police general, allegedly ordered the cremation. 

Santiago will be charged with dereliction of duty if he does not return to their barangay when his leave of absence ends, said Malapitan. 

Sta. Isabel, for his part, has sought protective custody from the NBI and denied the accusations. 

The PNP, meanwhile, said it has already placed the other policemen linked to Jee's abduction under restrictive custody. 

Senator Panfilo Lacson is seeking a legislative inquiry into Jee's death. 

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se has also discussed the case with his Philippine counterpart, Perfecto Yasay, who reportedly vowed a thorough investigation and punishment for those involved. 

Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck, quoting Yun, said the case "poses concerns to the safety of South Koreans" in the Philippines. He said more than 1 million South Koreans visit the Philippines every year. - With Agence France-Presse