Angeles City police chief axed over men’s crimes vs Koreans
ANGELES CITY, Philippines – The Police Regional Office 3 (PRO3) ordered on Wednesday, January 25, the relief of Angeles City police director Senior Superintendent Sidney Villaflor for the alleged involvement of his 7 subordinates in the robbery and extortion of two Koreans in a subdivision in the city on December 30, 2016.
In a text message to Rappler, Chief Superintendent Aaron Aquino, PRO3 director, said the relief of Villaflor was implemented immediately and was due to “command responsibility.”
Based on documents obtained by Rappler, the 7 policemen from Angeles City police station 5 raided the house located along Apo Street in Friendship Plaza Subdivision in Anunas village, Angeles City, around 6:30 pm on December 30 in what supposedly a police operation against illegal online gambling.
Aquino initially relieved last January 6 the 7 policemen he identified as:
- PO3 Arnold Nagayo
- PO3 Roentjen Domingo
- PO2 Richard King Agapito
- PO2 Ruben Rodriguez
- PO3 Gomerson Evangelista
- PO1 Jayson Ibe
- PO1 Mark Joseph Pineda
Also relieved on the same date were station 5 commander Chief Inspector Wendel Arinas and his deputy commander, Senior Inspector Rolando Yutuc.
Friendship Plaza Subdivision is the same place where South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo was allegedly abducted by a group of armed men, including 2 anti-illegal drug policemen from the Philippine National Police (PNP) national headquarters in Quezon City.
Aquino said Villaflor will be placed on a “floating” (without any assignment) status at the regional police office in Camp Olivas in the city of San Fernando.
Rappler obtained a copy of the letter of Minister and Consul General Kwon Won-jik, deputy chief of mission of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea. It was addressed to Police Deputy Director General Francisco Uyami Jr and dated January 3, 2017.
In the letter, Kwon called Uyami’s attention to an incident involving two Koreans and Angeles City policemen.
“Last 30 December 2016 at around 6:30PM, 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 disclosed.
The next day, January 4, Uyami issued a memorandum to the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) of the PNP, instructing the latter to “kindly conduct thorough investigation ASAP on the alleged extortion done to Korean nationals by concerned police officers assigned in Angeles City, Pampanga,” and “submit report on the action taken the soonest possible time.”
DIDM acting executive officer Senior Superintendent Fausto Manzanilla Jr, in turn, wrote a memorandum addressed to the director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). He asked the PNP unit to “please conduct investigation regarding the [same] matter and submit report of your action to this directorate NLT (not later than) January 25, 2017.”
Last January 9, the acting CIDG director, through Senior Superintendent Wilson Asueta, chief of the investigation division, wrote a memorandum to CIDG Region 3 acting director Superintendent Edwin Quilates that “pertains to the letter complaint of Mr. Kwon Won-Jik, Minister and Consul General, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Korea relative to the alleged extortion done to Korean nationals.”
“You are directed to conduct investigation regarding the matter and submit result of your action taken to this Division NLT January 21, 2017,” the memorandum stated.
On the same day, Chief Inspector Reynold Macabitas, chief of the Pampanga CIDG, sent a memorandum for the PRO3 leadership, requesting for copies of available documents or records related to the alleged extortion of Koreans.
Sources told Rappler that the request was forwarded to the Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division (RIDMD).
Rappler sent an email to the RIDMD headed by Superintendent Eduardo Tuazon Jr to ask about the status of the Pampanga CIDG request. The RIDMD has yet to reply to the query.
Macabitas has also not responded to Rappler’s text message on the status of the Pampanga CIDG’s investigation into the case.
Lacking in supervision
In an interview with Rappler, Aquino said two “sensational cases” – the kidnap and murder of Jee Ick Joo and the extortion of 3 Koreans who were playing golf – prompted him to sack Villaflor.
“Na-feel ko na matagal nang ginagawa ng mga pulis na ito, [pero] ngayon lang nabulgar itong mga modus. It’s time to stop these wrongdoings,” said Aquino. (I felt that the cops had been extorting this way for some time, and the modus was discovered only now.)
Villaflor had been police chief of Angeles City for over a year.
“He’s the city director. He should supervise his men. [When the 3 Koreans were vitimized], there was no official in the station…. He lacked in supervision,” said Aquino, noting that Villaflor was also not in the city when it happened on December 30.
Police chiefs are expected to stay in their areas of responsibility, particularly over the holidays.
Villaflor has been replaced by Senior Superintendent Jose Hidalgo Jr, officer-in-charge of the Central Luzon police's Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group.
Sources at the Angeles City police said Hidalgo already presided a command conference at Camp Tomas Pepito, the city police's headquarters, late afternoon on Wednesday and that Villaflor has left his office. – with a report from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com