KOREAN Mafias, apart from rogue law enforcement agents, have been targeting Korean nationals in the Philippines over the past few years, officials said yesterday citing the case of three Koreans found shot to death in a cane field in Bacolor, Pampanga on October 11 last year.
Last November 21, Korean policemen arrested a 34-year-old South Korean identified only as ‘Kim’ who was believed to have collaborated with a compatriot in killing three Koreans—two male and one female—whose bodies were found at the Eastern Mega Dike Road in Barangay Maliwalu in Bacolor town last October 11.
Prior to ‘Kim’s’ arrest, agents of the Fugitive Search Unit of the Bureau of Immigration formerly headed by retired General Charles T. Calima Jr. arrested another suspect in the multiple murder case identified as Park Wangyeol alias ‘Park Wang Yeol,’ 38, on the basis of an Interpol Red Notice issued against him for his role in the conspiracy to murder the three South Koreans in Pampanga.
An investigation showed that Park’s last arrival in Manila was on September 16, 2016 and he was admitted as a temporary visitor. After the BI discovered that he has been linked to the Bacolor triple murder case, they coordinated with their Korean counterparts and conducted operations to track down the suspect.
Armed with a Mission Order issued by Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente, BI operatives, accompanied by officers from the Korean National Police Agency led by Supt. Ik Joon Oh and Chief Inspector Lee Ji-Hoon last November 17 arrested ‘Park’ in his rented unit at The Arista Place in Bgy. Don Galo in Parañaque City.
The suspect was arrested while in the company of his Filipino girlfriend Jennika Halili and a fellow Korean identified as Kim Jin Hong. He was taken to the BI main office in Manila and locked up at the BI detention facility.
Information provided by Park Wangyeol prompted the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency to ask a local court to issue a warrant to detain ‘Park’ for his role in the killing of their three compatriots who were all found shot in the head. The victims were identified as Park Yong Pil, Maeng Jung Yeon and Shim Tae Soo.
Last November 21, a Philippine National Police Special Investigation Task Group also filed multiple murder charges against Park Wang Yeol and his Filipino accomplice named Jerry R. Trinidad before the Pampanga Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
South Korean wire agency reports said that Korean police investigation showed that the suspect left for the Philippines early October last year after ‘Park’, the owner of several businesses in the Philippines since 2010, offered to murder the victims for 100 million won which is equivalent to US$84,000 or roughly P4.2 million.
‘Park’ allegedly plotted to murder their three compatriots to steal about 1 billion won they had invested in a casino business, allegedly earning them some 1.5 billion won. Information provided by ‘Park’ during questioning triggered a full-scale investigation into Kim’s role in the multiple murder case leading to his arrest.
The Seoul government is seeking the help of Philippine authorities in deporting ‘Park’ to Seoul once the case filed against him is resolved.
In 2014, seven South Korean nationals were either stabbed or shot to death in the country. In 2013, 11 Koreans were killed while six were killed in 2012. In 2011, 18 Korean nationals were killed, one of them a pastor named Cho Tae Hwan who was shot to death by a suspected robber at the boundary of Pasig City and Cainta, Rizal. A case for robbery with homicide was filed against an arrested suspect identified as Jeffrey Martinez.
The case of Jee Ick-joo however is much different since his abductors and killers have been identified as rogue policemen led by Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta. Isabel. Non-bailable charges have been recommended against the accused.
Officials however expressed belief that many of the Koreans were victims of “contract killings” organized by their compatriots, some of them members of Korean Mafias known for abducting and killing their targets in the country in case their family fail to heed their ransom demand. Reports said that there are nearly 200 wanted South Koreans who have fled to the country.
There are also cases of Koreans ordered killed by their fellow Koreans over business rivalries or so-called “double-cross.” Other victims are wanted for crimes in South Korea who fled to Manila and other parts of the country and established businesses after marrying poor Filipinas.
Then there is also the presence of Korean gangsters who have organized their own groups in Manila composed of rogue compatriots and Filipino accomplices targeting Korean tourists, legitimate businessmen and wealthy students. Easy access to guns enables the Korean syndicates to amass weapons they can use to threaten or kill their targets.
PNP Korean desk
At present, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has its Korean Desk which provides 24-hour service to South Korean nationals and other foreigners in the country.
The Korean Desk was established to better address issues and concerns involving Korean nationals in the country. Its officers and men have finished Korean language courses to help them understand complainants.
There are an estimated nearly 300,000 Korean nationals staying in the country either as foreign students, tourists or businessmen. Last year, tourism officials said around 1.4 million Koreans visited the Philippines which remains as among the top Korean destinations in Asia.
Thousands of South Koreans now reside here leading to the establishment of English learning centers, Korean groceries and restaurants, and board and lodging operations.