MET WITH much skepticism – at least in my Facebook timeline – is today’s news of Police Director General Ronald “Bato” De la Rosa’s press conference yesterday that some Korean mafia is responsible for the slay by policemen of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo last October.
The Philippine National Police has suffered so much negative publicity through the decades that anything they do or say is always suspect, no matter how true or noble. From being used as a tool for suppression during the Martial Law days, to being employed as private security and goons by local warlords and vested interests, the country’s armed services – civilian or military – cops have been eyed by Citizen Juan and Maria with doubt and suspicion.
But let’s set that aside and look at this latest happening objectively, and by itself. I remember a few years back I was enjoying one of those Korean action movies on the Red Channel, a cable channel featuring Asian films owned and operated by HBO. I forget the title of the movie now, but I vividly remember the particular scene where the main character, a particularly nasty son of an old school Korean gangster who was not living up to the honor code of his underworld ancestors by living on the wild side of killing sprees, loose women and heavy drug use. He was attracting the wrong kind of attention with the authorities, so his father’s solution was to ship him off to the Philippines where he can do no harm to the family business.
It’s a case of art imitating life. While this film and its characters were fiction, the storyline points to an emerging stereotype of the country as a safe haven for wayward Koreans, just like Filipinas are disparagingly stereotyped abroad as domestics or, worse, prostitutes.
Shortly after that I came across a case where a Filipino policeman was charged for the murder of a Korean national in Manila. The policeman was moonlighting as a bodyguard for some Korean businessman in the country. Now this is nothing new. Policemen are known to sideline as bodyguards, security consultants and even drivers for taxicabs, UV Express shuttles and even Uber cars.
This particular policeman was charged for murder because his Korean bosses turned out to be Korean gangsters whose racket was to lure high rollers and naughty rich children from their home country to special tours of casino gambling, high priced wine, women and song in Manila. When the clients bite and take the tour package, they get kidnapped here and their families are informed of the ransom demand. Of course, their thugs are the Filipino cops hired by these K-mafiosos. In some cases the payoff is successful and the victim is returned. In other cases, not so lucky.
In this particular case, the victim was the high rolling son of the top banana of Hyundai in Korea, a particular spoiled brat who did not inherit his father’s discipline but had his father’s money. The K-mafia brought him in, and somewhere along the operation he was killed. The police bodyguard did not have a hand in the actual killing, but was fingered as such.
The case was investigated and charges were filed in court. Having no hand in the killing, the policeman spilled the beans and was transformed into a State Witness against his Korean bosses.
It’s real. It’s happening. Deal with it.
So for the journalists out there worth their salt, here’s a tip:
People vs. Ha Tae Ku et al
Criminal Case number 09-0458CFM
RTC 115 Pasay City
For Kidnapping for Ransom with Homicide
Don’t wait to be spoon fed by press conferences and statements. Pound the pavement.