A suggestion by the Filipino justice secretary that a “Korean mafia” might have been involved in the police murder of Ji Ick Joo has provoked a furious response.
Vilatiano Aguirre II made the claim at a senate hearing today (Thursday, February 23).
He also alleged that the criminal group behind Mr Ji’s killing inside national police headquarters might involve people from the South Korean Embassy. He further claimed that Mr Ji had been kidnapped on two previous occasions by the Korean mafia.
The embassy was quick to respond, saying: “The embassy is strongly distressed that this false information could tarnish its honour and reputation.
“The Korean embassy regrets very much that, based on wrong and unfounded information, secretary Aguirre made some misleading statements involving a so-called Korean mafia at the senate hearing.”
It also noted that Mr Ji, according to his widow, “had lived an honest life as a conscientious businessman, having no connections at all with any malicious Korean persons.”
Mr Ji was a senior executive at the Hanjin shipbuilding company in Subic Bay.
Embassy officials also recalled “consistent confirmations” from the Philippine National Police “that this case has nothing to do with a Korean mafia.”
They also said Aguirre promised that the department of justice “would not pursue any longer the angle of a possible linkage with a Korean mafia in its future investigations into the case.”
The embassy statement continued: “The embassy has every confidence that no official has been compromised by Korean mafia. The embassy asks for any concrete evidence that substantiates his remarks. It would take full responsibility for it, if any.”
Mr Ji was abducted from his home in Angeles City last October before being strangled inside Camp Crame — just yards from the office of police chief Ronald de la Rosa. The suspects then extorted millions of pesos from his widow, who believed he was still alive.
The case shone a clear spotlight on police corruption being carried out under the guise of the war on drugs, leading President Duterte to halt the campaign in order to weed out rogue cops.
An initial group of 219 so-called “scalawags” were identified and ordered to redeploy to the terrorist-infested island of Basilan for two years. However, only 53 turned up to catch the flight.