ANGELES, Pampanga (UPDATE) — A Pampanga court has convicted a cop and a former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) aide of kidnapping with homicide over the controversial abduction and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo in 2016.
Angeles Regional Trial Court Branch 60 on Tuesday sentenced SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel and former NBI aide Jerry Omlang to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in prison for Jee’s kidnap-slay.
Both were also convicted of kidnapping with serious illegal detention over the abduction of Jee’s helper, Marisa Marquicho, and for carnapping Jee’s SUV, which was used to take them from his house in Angeles, Pampanga to Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Aside from another 40-year reclusion perpetua jail term for the kidnapping, they will also spend between 22 and 25 more years behind bars.
Meanwhile, the alleged mastermind, Supt. Rafael Dumlao, was acquitted of all 3 charges due to the prosecution’s failure to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Both Omlang and Dumlao personally attended the promulgation while Sta. Isabel attended via videoconference from an Angeles detention facility.
Dumlao had earlier been allowed to post bail by Angeles RTC Br. 56, ruling that none of the witnesses proved “a particular act or acts... that clearly established his complicity in the abduction and killing of the victim Ick Joo Jee” while denying the bail plea of the 2 other accused.
Jee’s wife, Kyung Jin Choi, was also present, accompanied by the South Korean ambassador to Manila. She broke down in tears after hearing the verdict.
Her fellow Koreans expressed their disappointment over the ruling.
“He was the one, we believe, he was the one who organized and commit all of this (to) happen. But now, several years later, things have been changing. So he’s not guilty. We don’t believe that,” James Lee, president of the Korean Veterans in the Philippines, said of Dumlao.
Dumlao refused to talk to the media.
A full copy of the ruling has yet to be made available to the public.
The verdict in the case came almost seven years since he was abducted from his house in Angeles City and killed inside the Philippine National Police's headquarters.
The killing of Jee had sparked international outrage against the Philippine government's war on drugs.
It led to a temporary halt in the government's anti-drug war campaign dubbed Oplan Tokhang.
Then President Rodrigo Duterte apologized to the South Korean government for Jee's death.
FROM THE ARCHIVE