Police to reach out to Korean community in wake of ambush

Posted on November 7, 2012

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Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, Lapu-Lapu City police chief, says language barrier and fear of reprisal have prevented Koreans from reporting any extortion in their community. (JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Lapu-Lapu City police will hold a dialogue with representatives of the Korean community to address security concerns in the wake of a kidnapping and aborted ambush that involved Koreans.

“We believe internal fighting is involved and it didn’t reach the police. We don’t want this to continue,” said Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, Lapu-Lapu police chief.

He said fear of reprisal and the langauge barrier may have kept Koreans from reporting their cases to the police.

The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) ordered the dialogue following the Oct. 31 car ambush of Korean businessman Lee Dong Gun and his assistant Jung Ha Bok.

Two police escorts were assigned to the Korean victims after the attack.

Their lawyer Alex Godornes told Cebu Daily News his clients will agree to let go of the security escorts only when the alleged mastermind Kim Jae Hyung alias “Keven Kim” is arrested.

Frustrated murder charges were filed in court yesterday against Kim, an unidentified gunman, and alleged local cohorts Rodenio Absin Espiritu and Boy Booc.

Last Oct. 24, another Korean and three local companions were arrested for the kidnapping for ransom of a fellow Korean and his girlfriend in Cebu City over an unpaid P4 million debt and gambling loans.

Police are trying to locate Kim following the Oct. 31 shooting attach which took place as the victims’ car drove out of the Pacific Villa 1 subdivision in Lapu-Lapu City but Kim has disappeared.

Until a court issues a warrant of arrest, no hold departure order can be issued against Kim and his alleged accomplices and he can still leave the country, the Regional State Prosecutor’s Office said yesterday.

“A hold departure order is issued when one has a court case,” Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane said.

Godornes, the victims’ lawyer, said his clients were new settlers in Cebu and refused to bow down to Kim, a long-staying resident in Cebu.

He said that was the start of their conflict whihc stemmed from the Korean culture of respect for seniority. He said no money or extortion threat was mentioned by his clients.

Police have requested for Kim’s travel records from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and other information about his business activities from the Lapu-Lapu city treasurer’s office.

Lawas said police are urging Koreans to report any extortion activities done by Kim, who is supposedly a financier casino gamblers and engaged in the protection racket.

Lawas said that not all Koreans can speak English well so the language barrier may be holding them back.He said no complaints were relayed to the police.

“They (Koreans) might think we are doing nothing,” he said.

A Korean help desk was set up at the PRO-7 headquarters and Lapu-Lapu City police two years ago to help South Koreans who do business, study and stay in Cebu, Lawas said. Police officers are trained to communicate in Korean.

Both the ambush victim and the alleged mastermind Kim are souvenir shop owners and residents of Pacific Villa 1 subdivision in Lapu-Lapu City.

In his affidavit, Gun said “I had a little squabble with him before because he wanted me to give and show respect to him.” Since then, Gun said he learned that Kim wanted to kill him.

Gun and his assistant were driving out the subdivision on a white Chrysler Durango when they were shot by an unidentified gunman.

Footage of the ambush was recorded in the subdivision’s closed circuit TV camera.

Gun and Jeung sustained gunshot wounds in their arms and were assigned security by the police following the incident.

Their lawyer alleged that the ambush occurred after Gun failed to “show respect” to Kim by refusing to pay protection money. /Jucell Marie P. Cuyos and Norman V. Mendoza, Correspondents

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