By Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporter
A PAMPANGA COURT granted a petition of a police officer who is a state witness in the October 2016 kidnap and murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo to be released from the restrictive custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Kidnapping Group.
In the two-page order dated Jan. 30, Judge Irin Zenaida S. Buan of Angeles City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 56 ruled that Senior Police Officer (SPO) 4 Roy L. Villegas has finished his testimony and fulfilled his duty as state witness.
“The testimony of state witness Villegas, there is no more valid reason to recall his discharge, thus effects of his discharge should be given effect,” the judge said.
Ms. Buan also junked the argument of accused SPO3 Ricky M. Sta. Isabel and Jerry A. Omlang who opposed the motion of Mr. Villegas, claiming that his discharge is not yet final due to a pending petition before the Court of Appeals against it.
The RTC cited the Section 7, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court which “clearly mandates that the pendency of a petition for certiorari will not interrupt the course of the main case unless a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction is issued by the appellate court.”
Mr. Jee was abducted along with his househelp Marisa Morquicho from his home in Angeles City on Oct. 18, 2016, in an alleged anti-drug operation. Ms. Morquicho was released but the Korean national was killed right at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, and his cremated remains were reportedly flushed in a toilet.
Mr. Villegas was initially charged with kidnapping along with Superintendent Rafael Dumlao III, Messrs. Sta. Isabel, and Omlang, and funeral homeowner Gerardo G. Santiago.
RTC Branch 58 in January 2018 granted the petition of the Department of Justice (DoJ) to turn Mr. Villegas state witness, saying that “while he directly participated in the execution stage, he had no direct participation in the actual killing of Jee Ick-joo.”
Mr. Villegas was the one who tagged Mr. Dumlao, former PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group head, as the mastermind in Mr. Jee’s murder, together with Messrs. Sta. Isabel and Omlang and several others.