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PNP chief asked to resign over Korean's slay, Duterte says no

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MANILA (via PhilAmPress) ―Calls for Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to quit continue to mount at the House of Representatives as two more House leaders  challenged the embattled police official to submit his courtesy resignation and give President Rodrigo Duterte a free hand to decide on his fate.


President Duterte immediately came to dela Rosa’s rescue saying he will stay as chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) despite calls for his resignation.


"He stays there. Bato has my complete trust," Duterte said before he attended the birthday celebration for Dela Rosa at the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame.


Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, and several groups have expressed their support for Dela Rosa, among them the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).


“It’s not too late for Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa” to redeem himself amid calls for him to resign, Lacson said.


Calls for Dela Rosa’s resignation came after a Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo was reportedly abducted by policemen last year and eventually killed in Camp Crame.


The Senate later opened its investigation into the killing as Malacanang offered its apology to South Korea and the family of Jee Ick Joo for what had happened. 


Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs which opened its inquiry into the Oct. 18, 2016 abduction-killing, said the NBI and PNP should quickly conduct a case conference in order to tighten the evidence against Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta Isabel and other suspects, including three others police officers, and smooth out contradictions in their case buildup efforts.

The case has sparked a demand for justice from Seoul authorities and marred the police's anti-drugs campaign, showing up the ugly side of rogue cops misusing the administration's war on drugs for criminal activities like extortion and kidnapping for ransom.


During the Senate hearing, PO3 Sta. Isabel, the main suspect in the abduction and subsequent murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo, insisted that he was just a fall guy and was set up by the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group.


Testifying at the inquiry by the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, Sta. Isabel related the conversation he had with Colonel Raphael Dumlao, his immediate commander at the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group, and and a certain Col. Allan Macapagal, who both went to his house on January 14 to try to convince him to become a fall guy and implicate other policemen in the kidnap-slay.


Sta. Isabel told the Senate what the two officers said to him in Pilipino: “This is the scenario: all this is only a zarzuela. The Chief PNP, as well as director Glenn Dumlao, will make you look bad on TV to make it appear that you are the most evil person in the PNP. All we need is someone who will testify that, when the Chief PNP makes his press release… anyway all the other policemen are already dead and they can’t testify against you… you will only pinpoint who are your cohorts who did the kidnapping and withdrew the money.”


Sta. Isabel said that they even threatened him if he did not cooperate.  He was also given a list of names of policemen to be killed who are involved in the kidnapping.


Sta. Isabel volunteered to present before the Senate the recording of the conversation between his wife and Dumlao, but the senators refused because it is against the anti-wiretapping law.


Dumlao, who is also accused of involvement in the abduction and murder of Jee, denied all of Sta. Isabel’s allegations.


Sta. Isabel also denied having gone several times to the subdivision in Angeles City prior to the abduction of the victim.


Dela Rosa also came under fire for attending the concert of Canadian singer Bryan Adams the same day the Korean businessman was killed.


Lacson, a former PNP chief, said that he knew Dela Rosa personally and noticed that he had “changed” probably because of “fame or popularity” but was hopeful that if he returned to his old ways, he would be able to recover.


VACC founding chair Dante Jimenez said calls for Dela Rosa to resign is still premature, “but it is a wake-up call for him to work double time.”


“I understand where Speaker Alvarez is coming from because Congress is the one appropriating budget for police operations. But his resignation is premature, in fact he worked hard to address this problem,” he said.


A number of policemen have been tagged in the kidnap-slay case of a South Korean businessman, including Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta. Isabel and his immediate superior in the PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group, Superintendent Raphael Dumlao.


Sta. Isabel, who surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation last week, has been transferred to the PNP Custodial Center at Camp Crame.


Dumlao, meanwhile, has been placed under restrictive custody at the AIDG office in Camp Crame.


Buhay Partylist Rep. Jose Atienza Jr. and Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, a former police general, said Dela Rosa has no other option but to submit his courtesy resignation or immediately leave his post following the murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo inside the PNP national headquarters at Camp Crame by his alleged policemen kidnappers led by Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta. Isabel.


“We support Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s call for him to resign because of that major failure to the national police leadership. This is a big scandal for the country, the Duterte administration and the ongoing war ondrugs. Under the principle of command responsibility, it dictates that he should take the bullet for the President and no alibis can possibly soften public anger on what had happened to the South Korean victim,” Atienza said.


Last week, Alvarez urged Dela Rosa to resign to save President Duterte from further embarrassment and restore respect to the Office of the PNP Chief.


“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 has said.


Atienza said that Dela Rosa’s departure will give the PNP the opportunity to regain its already tarnished image even before the killing of the South Korean happened.


“There is no way he can retain himself and we urge the President to let him go and choose a better man who will not be an embarrassment to his anti-illegal drugs campaign,” the House Deputy Minority Leader said.


“He can no longer effectively convince the public that he can do the job. He should enjoy life and give the PNP a chance to excel and regain public trust. The very sad fate of the South Korean victim made him to lose his ability to effectively lead the PNP,” Atienza said.


Meanwhile, Acop said that Dela Rosa can ease the burden of the President by submitting a courtesy resignation as soon as possible.


“If I were PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa, I will tender my courtesy resignation to the President,” the chair of the House Committee on Public Order and Safety said.


“I will not let the President decide on the suggestions or recommendations of other people. I will personally tender my courtesy resignation because it happened under my own roof and my own men were involved,” Acop said.


A lawyer and former police general, Acop added that he was shocked and embarrassed by the illegal activities of some police officers nowadays despite the presence of a tough-talking Chief Executive.


“For the PNP, it is a big blow. One, it happened within the national headquarters. Two, it would have been better for them if civilians were the perpetrators. As it happened, the perpetrators of the crime were their own men. It is a double whammy for the PNP,” Acop said.


Malacanang expressed resentment over the abduction and slay of Hanjin executive Jee Ick Joo inside the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame.


"We are outraged by the abduction and slay of a South Korean executive inside Camp Crame," presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.


The Palace official assured that there will be no whitewash in the investigation of Jee’s killing reportedly involving rogue cops.


"We will not tolerate corrupt, abusive, errant policemen who betray the organization and the men and women in uniform who continue their faithful, dedicated and loyal service to the country," Abella said.


The Korean executive was reportedly strangled to death with his head covered with a packaging tape.


Three policemen -- SPO4 Roy Villegas, SPO3 Rickey Sta. Isabel and PO2 Christopher Baldovino -- are now being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).


According to news reports, Jee and house helper Marisa D. Morquicho were abducted by two unidentified men from his house in Pampanga on October 18 last year.


Morquicho testified that the abductors told her that her boss.


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