MANILA -- Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II stood by his claim that South Korean authorities talked him out of investigating the possible involvement of a so-called Korean mafia in the abduction-slay of businessman Jee Ick Joo.
Reacting to a denial on his claims issued by the South Korean embassy, Aguirre on Friday reiterated the statement he made on Thursday before a Senate inquiry.
"They told me to stop pursuing the Korean mafia angle," Aguirre said, in a text message.
Aguirre is set to meet South Korean Ambassador Kim Jae Shin to clarify his statement.
The South Korean embassy said, contrary to the justice chief's claim, it was Aguirre who promised its consul general, police attachè, and Jee's widow, Choi Kyung-Jin, that authorities would no longer pursue the Korean mafia angle.
"The officials also recalled the PNP's (Philippine National Police) consistent confirmations that this case has nothing to do with a Korean mafia," the embassy said.
The embassy added that Aguirre's statement that some embassy officials may have been compromised by the so-called mafia is "false information" that "could tarnish its honor and reputation."
Jee was taken from his residence on October 18, 2016 by a group of policemen who were supposedly on an anti-drug operation. He was killed on the same day, allegedly strangled to death at the national police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
His widow claimed his abductors collected P5 million ransom money without her knowing Jee was already dead.
The DOJ currently reopened investigation of the case after an Angeles City trial court ordered the same, acting on a motion by SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel. Sta. Isabel and several others indicted by the Justice department in connection with Jee's abduction and killing.