2 of 7 cops in robbery-extortion of Koreans clean after all

ANGELES CITY, Philippines – After their names and photos were repeatedly flashed on television, and they were bashed as villains in the media, it turns out that two of the 7 city policemen tagged as suspects in the abduction, robbery, and extortion of Korean tourists had nothing to do with the crime.

The final findings of the multi-unit police special investigation task group showed that PO3 Goemerson Evangelista and PO3 Arnold Nagayo were not among the 7 policemen of the Angeles City Police Station 5 who allegedly victimized Lee Ki Hun, Min Hoon Park, and Lee Jun Hyung last December 30.

The task group is composed of investigators from the Angeles City Police Office, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division of the Central Luzon police.

After taking the statement of Lee Ki Hun, who returned to Pampanga from Seoul on Tuesday, January 31, reviewing close circuit television footages, and getting statements from witnesses, it was learned that Evangelista and Nagayo had been mistaken for two other Station 5 policemen – PO3 Jose Yumul and PO2 Rommel Manicdao.

Newly-installed city police officer-in-charge Senior Supt. Jose Hidalgo Jr said their findings were even confirmed by the statement given by Manicdao.

“It turned out that PO3 Evangelista and PO3 Nagayo were not among the 7 Angeles City Police Station 5 policemen who were captured by the CCTV. They were not part of the crime,” he said.

On Tuesday, the task group charged PO3 Roentgen Domingo, PO3 Jose Yumul, PO2 Richard King Agapito, PO2 Ruben Rodriguez III, PO2 Rommel Manicdao, PO1 Joseph Pineda, and PO1 Jayson Ibe of kidnapping for ransom and robbery at the City Prosecutor’s Office here.

The suspects, except for Yumul and Manicdao, were relieved from Station 5 on January 6, along with station commander Chief Inspector Wendel Arinas, deputy station commander Senior Inspector Rolando Yutuc, Evangelista, and Nagayo.

The suspects were initially subjected to a pre-charge investigation for grave misconduct and placed under restrictive custody at Camp Tomas Pepito here.

Contacted by phone, Evangelista and Nagoya said they somehow felt relieved now that their names had been cleared. They said since the day their names, and later photos, came out in the news, their lives became hellish.

Nakakatakot po at nakakahiya. Pati po pamilya ko nadamay sa kahihiyan dahil lang sa napagbintangan ako sa kasalanang hindi ko naman ginawa. Ang masakit pa po ay pati mga kamag-anak ko hinusgahan na nila ako pagkakita nila sa pangalan at picture ko sa balita,” Evangelista, who described the experience as traumatic, said.

(t was scary and embarrassing. Even my family was shamed because I was accused of a crime I did not commit. What's also painful is that even my relatives judged me when they saw my name and picture in the news.)

Nagoya said it was really stressful and agonizing for his family. “Nagpapasalamat ako at lumitaw din ang katotohanan na hindi ako kasama sa pangyayaring yon. Ngayon medyo nakahinga na nang maluwag ang aking pamilya,” he added. (I am thankful that the truth emerged and I was not part of that incident. Now my family is able to breathe more easily.)

Embassy letter

It was Minister and Consul General Kwon Won-jik, deputy chief of mission of the embassy of the Republic of Korea, who first revealed the ordeal of the 3 Korean tourists though a letter to Police Deputy Director General Francisco Uyami Jr dated January 3, 2017.

A copy of Kwon’s letter obtained by Rappler, showed that Kwon had asked Uyami to look into the incident involving two Koreans and some Angeles City policemen.

It was learned that Kwon was referring to two Koreans since only Lee Ki Hun and Min Hoon Park had sought the South Korean embassy’s help. Lee Jun Hyung decided not to report his ordeal.

“Last 30 December 2016 at around 6:30 pm, the police officers raided the house of Koreans located along Apo Street, Friendship Plaza for allegedly operating an illegal online gambling,” the South Korean embassy official said.

Kwon said the Koreans “were brought in the ‘police station’ and were placed in the firing range where the police officers indiscriminately fired several gun shots in order to frighten the Koreans into giving in to their demands.”

“In the end, the Koreans gave them (policemen) P300,000.00 and were released. They were tourists who visited the Philippines for a little leisure such as playing golf,” the minister and consul general said.

Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino, Central Luzon police director, on Tuesday said that the victim’s supposed friend, Thomas Jung, who brought the P300,000 to Police Station 5, turned out to be also a suspect in the case, allegedly the one who pinpointed the would-be targets to the policemen suspects. – Rappler.com