Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa should immediately quit to save his boss from further embarrassment after damning details emerged that his officers were involved in the kidnapping and murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Friday.
“The commission of a heinous crime right under his very nose is not only an insult but a clear indication that he has lost the respect of his people,” Alvarez said.
Dela Rosa should save President Duterte “from further embarrassment and restore respect” to the PNP chief’s office by quitting, Alvarez said.
PNP chief’s boo-boos
“Dela Rosa should buckle down to work or better yet, give the job to someone else who is dead serious in leading the PNP in its multipronged war against drugs, criminals and scalawags within its ranks,” Alvarez said in a statement.
He noted that social media was “replete” with videos of Dela Rosa’s “boo-boos,” including one that showed him running “like a headless chicken” after a firecracker he was holding started to smoke.
“How can we believe the stern statements Dela Rosa had been making against criminals … when he was the first to run in the slightest possibility of danger?” Alvarez asked.
Dela Rosa branded the quit call as “cruel” and dared Alvarez to “tell the President to fire me.”
“Do they think I’m enjoying my work so they want me to resign?” he said. “That’s too much. How cruel of them to say that I should resign.”
Alvarez’s call came as more details about Jee’s abduction and murder surfaced, with the government facing mounting calls to formally apologize to Seoul. It was also the strongest statement coming from an ally of President Duterte who, like Dela Rosa, hails from his southern bailiwick.
Jee, a former executive of South Korean firm Hanjin, was taken in October in the guise of a drug raid and then strangled. His captors later extorted a P5-million ransom from his wife.
The alleged ringleader, policeman Ricky Sta. Isabel, and another police officer are in custody while several others are at large. They have been indicted for kidnapping and murder.
Sta. Isabel was formally arrested on Friday by the PNP’s Anti-Kidnapping Group and transferred from the National Bureau of Investigation, where he had earlier surrendered, saying he feared for his life.
A ranking police official privy to the details of the case said Jee’s car, a black Ford Explorer where the killing took place, was parked just outside the building of the PNP’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) adjacent to that of the PNP’s Public Information Office and Police Community Relations Group offices.
A justice department resolution said the suspects were all members of the AIDG, including Sta. Isabel, SPO4 Roy Villegas and PO2 Christopher Baldovino.
The crime scene was also just a few steps away from the office of Dela Rosa and his official residence, the so-called White House, inside the police headquarters.
The police official, who requested anonymity, said Jee was wrapped first with packaging tape before he was strangled by Sta. Isabel. Villegas said Sta. Isabel brought packaging tape and surgical gloves and ordered them to cover the head of the victim.
Among those relieved was Supt. Raphael Dumlao, Sta. Isabel’s team leader at the AIDG.
The source said the incident might have happened around 10 p.m. of Oct. 18, 2016, after Jee was taken from his home in Angeles, Pampanga province, with a Filipino maid who was later freed. The Korean’s remains were taken to a funeral home for cremation, where police subsequently recovered his golf set that was partly used to pay for his cremation.
Although there were security cameras in the area, the official said they could not recover the footage since the killing happened almost three months ago and had been deleted from the files.
In a press briefing at Camp Crame on Friday, PNP spokesperson Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos explained that tapes in closed-circuit television cameras are overwritten by new recordings after every 30 days.
But Carlos said the PNP’s Headquarters Support Service (HSS) would review the security procedures implemented inside the camp.
He noted the camp security did not thoroughly inspect the vehicle because Sta. Isabel, being a regular visitor at Crame, introduced himself to the guards when he entered the camp premises.
“We believe the HSS and the Base Police will take the necessary steps to have a stricter security measure in times like this when crime is happening inside the camp,” he said.
But the official said they had enough evidence to prove that the incident happened inside the police camp, adding that the PNP’s Anti-Kidnapping Group had already submitted them to the justice department.
Calls for the government to apologize intensified on Friday, with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III demanding a swift prosecution of rogue officers accused in the crime, the first high-profile case to test the credibility and effectiveness of government’s antidrug war.
“It is saddening but infuriating! Enforce the law! The law is in place. Murder [is a] nonbailable crime,” Pimentel said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, called the kidnap-murder “probably the most unwelcome wake-up call” for Dela Rosa.
The PNP “should lose no time in addressing the issue by henceforth going hammer and tongs against all rogue cops who only care about their personal gains to the detriment of the entire police organization,” Lacson said. —WITH REPORTS FROM TARRA QUISMUNDO AND JHESSET O. ENANO