Cop in Korean’s kidnap surrenders to NBI

By Ghio Ong and Cecille Suerte Felipe
Cop in Korean’s kidnap surrenders to NBI

A policeman accused of kidnapping a South Korean businessman in Pampanga late last year surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Sunday night, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II confirmed yesterday.

Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta. Isabel – who has denied allegations he masterminded the kidnap of Jee Ick-joo, 53 – was seen by reporters roaming the NBI compound yesterday morning.

Aguirre said Sta. Isabel is under the NBI’s protective custody, but noted that no warrant has been issued for his arrest.

While Sta. Isabel refused to answer questions from reporters, he said “yes” when asked if he felt safe in the NBI. 

Meanwhile, a source privy to the case told The STAR Sta. Isabel’s wife asked that the NBI fetch her husband at dusk on Friday, but this was postponed until Sunday.

The NBI’s Task Force Against Illegal Drugs is in charge of Sta. Isabel’s custody while the bureau’s National Capital Region office handles Jee’s kidnapping.

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An affidavit prepared by the police Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) stated that two domestic helpers identified the men who took Jee from his house in Friendship Plaza Subdivision at around 2 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2016.

Monaliza Buizer, who works for Jee’s neighbor, identified Sta. Isabel as the driver of a black pickup who helped two men drag Jee into the pickup.

She also said Sta. Isabel and one of the two men also took Jee’s car, a black Ford Explorer (ABT-1915).  

Jee’s helper, Marisa Dawis Morquicho, identified Ramon Vitug Yalung as one of two men who looted Jee’s house and an unnamed man as the one who drove off with Jee’s vehicle.

The subdivision’s security office told the AKG that a black Toyota Hilux (AAX-4655) entered the subdivision at around 12:58 p.m., over an hour before Jee’s kidnap.

Investigators later learned that Sta. Isabel’s wife, Jinky, owns the Hilux and the policeman regularly used the car. 

Plea for help

Jee’s wife, Choi Kyunghin, offered last Thursday a P100,000 reward to anyone who can help find her husband.

Two days after Jee’s kidnap, she told the AKG that there were four ATM withdrawals of P20,000 each hours after he was taken.

On Nov. 3, 2016, two weeks after his kidnap, Choi gave P5 million as ransom to the kidnappers at a fastfood restaurant in Angeles City. She said they did not release her husband and instead demanded another P4.5 million.

The AKG statement also stated that Sta. Isabel, along with two lawyers and his team leader, appeared before the AKG on Nov. 5, 2016 and said he had gone to the Friendship Plaza Subdivision several times in October 2016 using the Hilux “to look for a house that they can rent for their police operations.”

Sta. Isabel was affiliated with the Anti-Illegal Drug Group (AIDG) at the time Jee was kidnapped. He was later transferred to the Headquarters Support Service.

The subdivision’s security office also said the Hilux, driven by Rudolf Go Reyes, went into the subdivision eight times from Sept. 27 to Oct. 18, 2016, the date Jee was kidnapped and when the car was last seen in the area.

Protected

One of the police generals earlier accused by President Duterte of protecting the illegal drug trade is also reportedly protecting Sta. Isabel, Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said yesterday.

In a press conference, He said Sta. Isabel was allegedly sent by his “bossing” to the AIDG to disrupt the government’s war on drugs. He also said the lawman initially tried to join the AKG but was rejected, so he applied with the AIDG.

Dela Rosa did not name Sta. Isabel’s reported protector, who has retired from the police service.

He said the PNP is still looking for another Korean who was reportedly participated in Jee’s kidnap.

The PNP chief said Sta. Isabel was with at least eight persons, including a barangay chairman, when he took Jee.

He alleged that Sta. Isabel managed to dupe two police officers into believing that Jee’s kidnap was a “legitimate operation. They are now with the AIDG director. They are less guilty, and can be witnesses.”

Dela Rosa said the PNP has an airtight case against Sta. Isabel and that is why the policeman opted to surrender to the NBI.

T…ina ka maro talaga yung tao na iyon, ano (Son of a b****, that person is cunning),” he said.