MANILA – SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, the suspect in the kidnapping and murder of Korean Jee Ick-joo, on Thursday maintained his innocence in the controversial crime that has rocked the entire Philippine National Police.
Sta. Isabel has been tagged as the leader of rogue policemen and other individuals who barged into the house of the Korean and abducted the latter last October 18, 2016.
A witness, SPO4 Roy Villegas, claimed he saw Jee being strangled to death by Sta. Isabel inside a car in Camp Crame, the PNP’s headquarters.
The Korean’s remains would later be brought to a funeral parlor in Caloocan City and cremated at a different facility within the city.
Sta. Isabel has denied participating in the kidnapping and killing of Jee. He, however, admitted to bringing Jee's remains to the Caloocan funeral parlor on orders of his immediate superior, Supt. Raphael Dumlao of the PNP – Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG).
Aquino questioned why Sta. Isabel did not object to Dumlao’s supposed orders.
“Wala na akong magagawa kasi officer iyon at lawyer eh. Alam ko po tama ang ginagawa niya dahil lawyer siya,” Sta. Isabel told Sen. Aquino.
“Talagang alam kong mali iyun, dahil wala akong magagawa, tauhan lang ako,” he added.
Sta. Isabel denied allegations that he led the kidnap-slay. He said that prior to the kidnap-slay, his immediate superior ordered him to arrest a certain Albert Chua.
“May pre-ops na ginawa si Col. [Raphael] Dumlao, pirmado po ng mga officers namin… Mayroon po (documents). Pirmado ng mga staff po ng AIDG,” he said.
“Ang utos sa amin ni Atty. Raphael Dumlao eh yung Albert Chua ang huhulihin at saka iyun ang binigay niyang warrant, Albert Chua.”
However, Sta. Isabel said he realized that Jee was not the person who was stated in the pre-operation document and supposed arrest warrant, which is why he decided not to take the Korean during their first attempt.
“Hindi pumayag nung makita ko na iyun Ick-joo. Nung sinama ko na po yung mga yung dalawang tao na pinasama sa akin ni Atty. Dumlao na galing sa AIDG, nung nakita ko, dahil sinundan po namin, napunta sa gasolinahan dahil na-flatan siya ng sasakyan, nung nakita ko na hindi po iyun ang subject namin sa picture, hindi ako pumayag na kunin iyon,” Sta. Isabel said.
Sta. Isabel insists that he was no longer present in the subsequent operation on Jee on October 18, 2016, where the latter was eventually taken and killed.
He admitted that his only participation in the entire incident was to bring Jee’s remains to Gream Funeral Services in Caloocan. A liaison officer of the funeral parlor supposedly brought Jee’s remains to a crematorium where the Korean’s remains were cremated.
Sta. Isabel said he only learned that Jee was brought to Camp Crame when he was called up by his boss to go to the PNP headquarters. He said at one point, he saw Supt. Dumlao hitting the Korean with a gun.
Sta. Isabel also claimed that Dumlao ordered him to kill Jee’s house helper, Marissa Dawis Morquicho, who was also abducted with her employer.
Sta. Isabel said he did not kill Morquicho out of pity and instead abandoned her at a remote area in Quezon City.
In the hearing, Dumlao called out Sta. Isabel for supposedly lying in his testimony. He pointed out that the funeral parlor where Sta. Isabel brought Jee’s remains belonged to Sta. Isabel’s former colleague.
“Unang-una sir, kung titingnan natin ang relasyon nung may-ari ng funeral parlor at siya, they go way way back. Magkasama sila,” Dumlao said.
“Bali ang lumalabas po is mentor po niya yun. Mahabang panahon sila nagsama sa may Caloocan lalo nung siya pa ay nasa Caloocan Police.”
Dumlao was referring to Barangay 165 chairman Gerardo Santiago, who recently flew to Canada after the scandal erupted on media.
Senior Superintendent Albert Ignatius Ferro, officer-in-charge of the AIDG, also said Sta. Isabel was obviously lying.
“Obvious na sa simula pa lang talagang nagsisinungaling na siya. Kasi kung alam niya po na may nangyari dito sa Korean national, dapat po -- it took three months para malaman natin. Hindi sila nagsabi ng katotohanan,” Ferro said.