A Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent. Image Credit: Reuters / Romeo Ranoco

Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to kill policemen who return to the illegal drug trade after facing disciplinary action.

The threat came as it emerged hundreds of allegedly rogue police officers had defied their re-deployment to the restive southern Philippines.

Last week, only 53 out of 310 policemen — 17 per cent — had showed up at Pasay City’s Villamor Airbase for their flight to Basilan, southern Philippines.

“They should be subjected to summary dismissal. I have requested the police to form particularly a squad that will watch over the dismissed policemen,” Duterte said.

“Most of them — the ninja-criminal policemen — are high on the [target] list,” he added.

He warned that he would not spare any renegade officer.

“You will be killed, if you make a mistake, you will be killed. That’s for sure,” Duterte said. “Your wives will be widowed. Don’t fool the government. Do not even try. Do not even think about it.”

Dismissal orders signed

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said he had signed the dismissal order for hundreds of policemen.

“They were given 15 days to explain at the PNP in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” Dela Rosa said, adding that they will be finally dismissed if they fail to give reasonable explanation.

There were no cases filed against them, but their participation in many illegal activities are fully documented, Dela Rosa explained.

The president has been dubbed a strongman in his relentless campaign against illegal drug trade, especially those involving law-enforcement agents, that has killed 7,700 since July.

“Just because you are no longer working in government, you think you will have more freedom to engage in illegal drug trade. That will make you special target,” Duterte ranted in addressing the erring policemen.

'They will be killed, one by one'

“Do not be surprised if they are killed because they are wanted and so are the police(men) who are dismissed for committing crimes. I’m warning the public especially the media right now, do not be surprised if they are killed one of these days — one by one,” said Duterte, known for not holding back in moments of anger.

Duterte temporarily ordered the scrapping of the PNP’s anti-drug operation after policemen assigned to fight the illegal drug trade were found behind the kidnap-for-ransom of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo from his home in Pampanga, central Luzon last year.

Jee was killed inside the PNP headquarters Camp Crame in suburban Quezon City and was cremated the next day under suspicious circumstances.

Details of the cops-turned-criminals saga were revealed by low-ranking police officers-turned-witnesses implicating high-ranking police generals in the Jee kidnapping.

Jee's wife, South Korean Choi Kyung-jin, was asked to pay ransom — revealed through ATM transactions and CCTV footage — believing her husband was still alive.


October 18, 2016: South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo, along with his house helper, was  kidnapped by two unidentified men from Jee's residence in Friendship Plaza Subdivision, Angeles, Pampanga, an hour north of Manila.

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

October 18, 2016: Jee was killed inside Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police, by his abductors.

October 19, 2016: The house helper was released.

October 30, 2016: Kidnappers ask for ransom from Jee's wife, Choi Kyung Jin. She reportedly paid Php5 million (Dh364,772 or about $100,000) on October 30, 2016 out of the Php8 million demanded by the kidnappers. She said she did not give the kidnappers the remaining Php3 million when they failed to present proof that Jee was still alive.  

February 3, 2017: PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa said unscrupulous members of the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) could be behind the Jee's killing Dela Rosa told the reporters at Camp Crame that "the picture is getting clearer and hopefully, the truth will soon come out". 

February 3: President Duterte, citing investigation reports, tagged a police general, Rafael Dumlao III, the immediate superior of prime suspect Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, as the mastermind behind the kidnapping and murder of Jee.

Duterte gave Dumlao 24 hours to surrender or a P5-million reward would be offered for his capture, dead or alive.

Duterte publicly cursed Dumlao who snubbed the first day of the investigation by the Department of Justice on the kidnap-slay case.

February 22: The Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) adds 4 criminal charges (carnapping, robbery, falsification of public document, obstruction of justic) on 8 respondents in Jee kidnap-slay case.

Case respondents (accused): 
(1) Senior Police Officer 3 (SPO3) Ricky Sta. Isabel, tagged as the prime suspect;
(2) former PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group-Pampanga (AIDG) head Superintendent Rafael Dumlao III;
(3) SPO4 Roy Villegas;
(4) Gerardo Santiago, owner of the Gream funeral parlor;
(5) Jerry Omlang;
(6) Ramon Yalung;
(7) Ricardo Diaz, former Director of NBI-National Capital Region 3;
(8) Jose Yap, former NBI deputy director for investigation services
(9) Roel Bolivar, former NBI Task Force against Illegal Drugs head
(10-14) Five employees of Gream Funeral Services: Epephany Gotera; Teodolito Macato Tarepe; Kevin Enriquez; Robert John Tobias and Bernardo Maraya
(15+) There were other suspects tagged in the case, identified only through aliases “Pulis,” and several "John Does".