3 Korean golfers also ‘tokhang-for-ransom’ victims
Policemen robbed and extorted money from three golfers from South Korea as part of a suspected larger racket targeting tourists from that country, a senior officer said on Tuesday.
The announcement fueled fears of police abuse under the cover of President Duterte’s deadly war on crime, after authorities announced last week that policemen murdered a South Korean businessman then extorted money from his wife.
“They came to the Philippines just to play golf but they went through a traumatic experience,” said Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino, a regional police head.
He said the three South Koreans were staying at an upscale gated community in Angeles City, Pampanga province, when policemen barged into their house under the pretext of carrying out an illegal gambling raid on Dec. 30.
They robbed the Koreans of their computers, jewelry, golf clubs, golf shoes and P10,000, according to Aquino.
He said the three South Koreans were then held at a police station for about eight hours until a friend paid P300,000 for their freedom.
The three reported the incident to the South Korean Embassy, which informed the Philippine National Police, Aquino said.
This led to an investigation that found seven policemen were involved, according to Aquino, who said the men faced dismissal from service.
However, he said the offending officers would not face criminal charges because that would require the South Koreans, who had left the country, to return to the Philippines.
“They don’t want to come back. They are terrified,” he said.
The incident took place in the same gated subdivision where policemen abducted a South Korean businessman last October, Aquino said.
Jee Ick-joo, abducted in a fake antidrug operation, was strangled inside Camp Crame, the PNP national headquarters in Quezon City, but his wife, thinking he was alive, later paid about P5 million in ransom, authorities said last week.
Aquino said the two incidents were not related but he suspected rogue policemen had targeted many South Koreans in Angeles City.
“I suspect there are many (such incidents) but most of the crimes committed against the South Koreans are not being reported. They are all afraid,” he said.
The murder of Jee has shocked and angered the South Korean government, with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se demanding those behind the crime be brought to justice.
The police have come under intense scrutiny as the frontline troops in Mr. Duterte’s efforts to eradicate illegal drugs in the country, with human rights groups accusing them of mass extrajudicial killings.
Mr. Duterte has vowed to shield police from any murder charges, and told them he accepts them getting “sideline” money as long as it is not from drug activities. —AFP