Philippine police murdered South Korean businessman: Authorities

MANILA - Philippine police kidnapped and murdered a South Korean businessman, then led his wife to believe he was alive for months to extort money from her, authorities said Wednesday.

The killing is the latest in a long series of criminal acts by members of the Philippine police force, regarded as one of the nation's most corrupt institutions, and has fuelled concerns about its role enforcing President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly crime war.

The man disappeared from his home in the northern city of Angeles in October last year, and his wife initially paid a ransom of five million pesos (S$143,000), national police spokesman Dionardo Carlos told AFP.

However, the man was strangled to death and burned to ashes in a crematorium on the day he was abducted, the South Korean foreign ministry said, citing a Philippine government report.

The crematorium was owned by a former police officer, the foreign ministry said.

The South Korean government identified the man only by his surname of Ji and said he was in his 50s.

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Philippine media said he was a businessman who had been working in the Philippines since 2008 and had been working for a manpower company.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se demanded answers after receiving a phone call from Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay to inform him of the murder.

"Minister Yun, expressing grave shock over the implication of Philippine police officers in the case, asked that the Philippine government get to the bottom of the case and bring those responsible to justice," a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Ricky Santa Isabel, one of the officers accused of going to Ji's house and abducting him, surrendered this week, according to Carlos, the police spokesman.

He said another two officers who went with him to the house were under investigation.

Carlos said a retired police officer was also believed to be involved but had fled to Canada.

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All three accused officers were from the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group based at national police headquarters in Manila, according to Carlos.

He said that Santa Isabel and the other two officers went to Ji's house on the pretext of a drug raid.