Pampanga crime hot spot for Koreans
CLARK FREEPORT—On the average, 20 South Koreans are killed annually in various parts of the world and half of the killings take place in the Philippines, many of them in Pampanga province.
The latest victim was businessman Jee Ick-joo, who was abducted and killed in October last year in nearby Angeles City by policemen using President Duterte’s war on drugs as a cover.
South Korean Ambassador Kim Jae-shin gave the numbers as he informed Pampanga officials and Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa about sentiments prevailing in his home country.
“They are worried about incidents in this country,” Kim said at a consultation meeting organized by Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda with 500 Korean leaders in Central Luzon on Wednesday night at the Royce Hotel here.
Kim cited the need to prevent crimes against Koreans in the Philippines by developing a “better system for coordination.”
More than 90,000 Koreans live in the country, with 20,000 of them residing in Pampanga. About 1.4 million Korean tourists visit yearly.
Kim thanked Mr. Duterte for his “concern and interest” in solving the abduction and murder of Jee on Oct. 18.
“I hope there should be no more incidents where you need to use the hotlines,” Kim said, referring to mobile phone numbers given by Dela Rosa for reporting police abuses on Koreans. These are 0998-9702286 and 0995-7952569, which belong to the police’s counter-intelligence task force.
At the consultation, Pineda announced the creation of the Korean Assistance Office of Pampanga (Kaop) to be headed by Vice Gov. Dennis Pineda.
Kim Ki-young, president of the Central Luzon Korean Association, admitted that language is a factor in the reporting system.
The vice governor promised to hire and assign an interpreter to Kaop to receive complaints, alerts and information. He also asked Koreans to report fellow Koreans who are in cahoots with rogue policemen or are victimizing their compatriots.
Dela Rosa said investigators have identified Koreans who have facilitated payments of ransom or delivered extortion money. Spotters or Koreans who tip rogue policemen about their next targets have yet to be identified, he said.
He apologized for the death of Jee and expressed the hope that it would be the last of such incidents.
Dela Rosa said should there be another violent incident on a Korean, he would not wait for Mr. Duterte to tell him to resign. He said Koreans remained “uneasy” over their safety following Jee’s killing.
In the open forum, Korean leaders reported cases of robbery and pick pocketing and extensive search of bags of Koreans landing at the Clark International Airport here.
Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan said 63 closed-circuit television cameras would be operational in March. Koreans have installed their own CCTV cameras on Friendship Highway and deployed their own security personnel. —TONETTE OREJAS