Funeral parlor owner arrives from Canada, says he is innocent
The owner of a funeral parlor where the body of a South Korean businessman was brought for cremation surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Friday after arriving from Canada, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said,
Aguirre said the owner, Gerardo Santiago and Superintendent Rafael Dumlao of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group, were formally impleaded before the justice department as respondents to the complaint for the kidnap-slay of Jee Ick-joo in a supplemental complaint.
The complaint was filed by Philippine National Police’s Anti-kidnapping Group who also asked the justice department to include Christopher Alan Gruenberg as registered owner of the Nissan Exalta used in tailing Jee.
Santiago, who owns Gream Funeral Homes in Caloocan City, returned to face the charges that had been filed against him.
“I am innocent,” Santiago told reporters, when asked why he returned to the Philippines despite threats to his life.
The death of Jee who was taken from his home in Pampanga on October 18, has led the Philippine government to apologize to South Korea over the incident
President Rodrigo Duterte told South Korean businessmen attending the launch of a power plant in Sarangani Province Thursday that the suspects will get the maximum penalty.
Three policemen, led by SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, SPO4 Roy Villegas and Ramon Yalung plus several John Does were recommended to be charged for kidnapping for ransom with homicide by government prosecutors. Their arrest warrants were issued by an Angeles City court last week.
According to Villegas, Santiago was paid P30,000 and a golf set for the deed.
Immigration records showed Santiago left for Canada last January 11. Aguirre revealed that Santiago has sent feelers asking he be protected by the NBI when he returns.
“I came back here because I am innocent,” Santiago said. “If I am guilty, I will not return and just hide in Canada.”
“The return of Mr. Santiago augurs well for our collective search for the trut behind the dastardly act committed against the person of the late Mr. Jee Ick Joo,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre said he expects Santiago to give his statement in the NBI where is now in custody. DMS