MANILA -- The Angeles City Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Pampanga granted the motion filed by Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors to discharge one of the suspects in the criminal cases involving the abduction and murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo in October 2016 and turn him into a state witness.

Angeles City RTC Branch 58 Judge Irineo Pangilinan Jr. said SPO4 Roy Villegas satisfied all the requirements to become a state witness such as the absolute necessity for the accused's testimony, lack of direct evidence for the proper prosecution of the case, and that the accused should not appear to be the most guilty.

“Wherefore, guided by the foregoing hornbook doctrines, the Motion to Discharge Accused SPO4 Roy Villegas as state witness is hereby granted,” read Pangilinan's order dated January 3.

Citing Section 17, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Court, Pangilinan explained the law “allows the dismissal of an information as to one of several persons accused of a crime in order that he may be utilized as a witness for the State on condition that he testifies against his co-accused in the commission of the crime.”

Pangilinan said that “from the evidence submitted by the prosecution in support of its motion to discharge accused Villegas, it appears that while accused Villegas directly participated in the execution stage, he had no direct participation in the actual killing of Ick Joo Jee.”

“So far, the records are bereft of evidence that he had active participation in the actual killing of Ick Joo Jee,” he added.

The judge agreed with the point raised by the prosecution that the testimony of Jee’s maid, Marisa Morquicho, was “very limited as it is only confined to the alleged carnapping, kidnapping of victims Ick Joo Jee and Marisa Morquicho, but not on the actual killing of Ick Joo Jee.”

“She cannot therefore identify who among the accused consummated the killing of the victim Ick Joo Jee, or who conspired with whom,” he said.

Jee and Morquicho were abducted on October 18, 2016 from his home in Friendship Plaza Subdivision, Angeles City under the pretext that police were conducting anti-illegal drugs operations under “Oplan Tokhang.”

He was strangled to death inside the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame on the same day he was kidnapped, his cremated remains reportedly flushed down the toilet. Morquicho was eventually released.

Villegas’ presentation as state witness is set for Thursday.

Apart from Villegas, those who were charged were Supt. Rafael Dumlao, SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, retired policeman Gerardo “Ding” Santiago, and Jerry Omlang.

Although the Korean was already dead, the suspects still contacted Jee's wife, Kyungjin Choi, on October 30, 2016 and demanded ransom for his release.

After a series of negotiations, Choi delivered PHP5 million in ransom money in front of the Central Town Mall in Porac, Pampanga on October 31, 2016.

On November 2, 2016, the suspects demanded an additional PHP4 million but Choi refused after they failed to show proof of life. (PNA)