Jee Ick Joo

MANILA -- One of the prosecutors handling the case against the policemen involved in the killing of Korean national Jee Ick Joo said the testimony of the late businessman's wife, Choi Kyung Jin last week, proved details of how money changed hands in the kidnap for ransom case.

"Her testimony was crucial to prove the fact of ransom and damages," Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera told reporters over the weekend.

Choi earlier said one of the kidnappers, Patrick Joseph Banez, demanded a ransom of PHP8 million, and she reportedly followed instructions to pay PH5 million on Oct. 30, 2016.

"She left the PHP5 million in the trunk of her car at a parking area near Jollibee Porac as instructed by the kidnappers," Navera said.

"Her testimony was crucial to prove the fact of ransom and damages. She was not presented to identify the accused. The state witnesses already identified Mr. Jee's kidnappers and killers," Navera added.

Choi’s testimony, originally scheduled last year, faced delays due to the absence of certification of accreditation for the translator of the testimony.

Delays have also plagued the case after parties expressed dissatisfaction over the handling of the case by the previous judge.

Aside from the prosecution, accused Police Chief M/Sgt. Ricky Sta. Isabel and Jerry Omlang filed separate motions asking the previous judge’s inhibition from the case.

Police Supt. Rafael P. Dumlao III was positively identified by state witness Roy Villegas as part of the conspiracy in the kidnapping for ransom of Jee, being the alleged team leader, mastermind, and instigator of the crime.

Jee was kidnapped by two unidentified men from their residence in Friendship Plaza Subdivision, Angeles, Pampanga on Oct. 18, 2016.

After their arrest, the kidnappers who turned out to be members of the Philippine National Police accused Jee of being involved in the illegal drug trade.

On Jan. 17, 2017, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) went to a funeral parlor in Bagbaguin, Caloocan where the body of Jee was believed to have been brought and cremated and his ashes flushed down the toilet.

Dumlao was granted bail despite Villegas' claim that he harassed and even threatened him not to implicate him and not to identify him as one of the perpetrators.

Aside from Dumlao, Sta. Isabel and Omlang, the DOJ also charged Gerardo "Ding" Santiago, the owner of the Gream Funeral Services in Caloocan City where the body of the victim was brought and Villegas for kidnapping for ransom with homicide.

Villegas was later discharged as state witness while Santiago's case was downgraded to being that of an accessory. (PNA)