Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Monday said he will investigate a possible conspiracy to use the kidnap-slay of South Korean businessman Ick Joo Jee to weaken the Duterte presidency.
In an interview, Dela Rosa said it was Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre who said news of the Korean's murder at the hands of rogue cops could be used as an indirect attempt to tarnish both the PNP leadership and Duterte.
"Pag aaralan natin at part of the pinapalalim na investigation. Kasama yan sa tinutumbok kung may matumbok tayo na ganun. Kung merong grand conspiracy to weaken the President, chief PNP. Parang ganun yung takbo ng kanyang storya, hindi ba? So sama natin yan sa ating mas malalim na investigation," he said.
Asked if he can name any group involved in the alleged conspiracy, he said: "Wala pa tayong maibigay na pangalan saka grupo." He also criticized the media for putting the police force in bad light for covering the press conference of Jinky Sta. Isabel, the wife of SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel who is the central figure in the abduction and killing of Korean Ick Joo Jee.
“Ang mahirap dito ‘yung ibang media, ‘yung gumagawa ng kasalanan ‘yun pa ang gagawing hero,” Dela Rosa said in a news briefing at the PNP headquarters in Quezon City.
During her press briefing over the weekend, Jinky said she can prove her husband's innocence through a recorded cellphone conversation between her and Supt. Rafael Dumlao III, her husband's immediate superior, as well as footage and photos. Jinky alleged that Dumlao told her that Jee was involved in the illegal drug trade and money laundering, and has a boss named Albert Chua.
She said her husband is being set up by someone higher than him in the PNP. The abduction and killing of the Korean has rocked the entire PNP, which is vital to the war on drugs of President Rodrigo Duterte. Jee was abducted in October 2016 and was killed in Camp Crame the same day. His remains were allegedly brought to a funeral parlor in Caloocan City, but his ashes were reportedly flushed down the toilet.
The scandal has prompted calls for Dela Rosa to resign. The police chief, however, said he will stay in his post as he continues to enjoy the trust of the president. Dela Rosa also assured the public that there will be no whitewash in the investigation into the kidnapping and killing of Korean Ick Joo Jee at the hands of police officers.
"Walang cover-up, huwag kayo mag-alala," he said at a news conference. "Ang cover-up na gagawin natin ay cover-an natin ng lupa yung mga pulis na iyan." Dela Rosa met Sta. Isabel this weekend at the PNP Custodial Center where he is detained.
The police chief said he found Sta Isabel's version of the incident suspicious when he asked him to tell his side. "Puro self-defense, puro alibi. Parang yung taong naiipit na gumagawa ng storya. Kahit hindi ako graduate ng psychology, I've been investigating sensational cases noon pa,” dela rosa said. “Alam ko kung yung tao nagsisinungaling.
Hindi ko prine-prejudge. I'm not the judge but I'm in security. I know my men.” Investigators are now also considering the role of Sta. Isabel’s wife Jinky in the case. She came out during the weekend to defend her husband's innocence.
"Kinokonsider namin yan," said the chief of the PNP’ Anti-Kidnapping Group, Senior Supt. Glenn Dumlao. "Unang una nagkakaroon na kami ng financial investigation. So doon namin siya bubutasan kasi all along alam namin siya yung asawa na alam niya yung activity nung asawa nya.
So yung fruits of the crime doon namin siya ikakabit and then pag-aaralan pa namin nung bagong assigned na prosecutor,” Dumlao said. Dela Rosa, meanwhile, added that while they would consider the information Jinky would give, the PNP would not let the testimony of Sta. Isabel's wife dictate the course of the investigation.
He then decried that the media is putting the police in bad light with the coverage of the Korean’s kidnap-slay. He said the police would investigate claims of a so-called conspiracy to destabilize the Duterte administration through the kidnap-slay scandal, but said they would focus more on investigating the actual case.