By Jeffrey Damicog
A judge handling the kidnap-slay case of Korean Jee Ick Joo has decided to inhibit himself from the case.
Judge Irineo Pangilinan Jr. of Angeles City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 58 has issued a resolution where he declared to voluntarily inhibit himself from handling the case.
In the resolution, Pangilinan clarified he denied the motion of accused Police Supt. Rafael Dumlao who sought to have the judge inhibited for accepting the motion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to turn state witness one of the co-accused, SPO4 Roy Villegas.
The magistrate pointed out Dumlao’s basis is “not among the grounds for inhibition enumerated under Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court” and “cannot be considered, much less, be taken to mean as an act of prejudgment or prejudice.”
“While the Court denied accused Dumlao’s motion for inhibition, in order to remove any doubt in any and all official acts that will be rendered by the Court, the undersigned hereby voluntarily inhibits himself from sitting in and further hearing these cases,” read his resolution.
Aside from declaring his inhibition, Pangilinan also, in the same resolution, ruled with finality in upholding the indictment of all of the accused in the case.
Pangilinan is handling the charges of kidnapping for ransom with homicide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and car theft against the accused, namely: Dumlao, SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, retired policeman Gerardo “Ding” Santiago, and Jerry Omlang.
Jee and his household helper, Marisa 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.”
The Korean was brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City where he was killed the same day. Morquicho was eventually released.
Even though the Korean was killed, 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 P5 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 P4 million but Choi refused to so after they failed to show proof of life.