South Korea decided Thursday to dispatch four police investigators to the Philippines to participate in the local authorities’ probe into the deaths of three Koreans in the country.
“We decided to send four professional examiners to the country. The matter has been settled with the Philippines national police” an official at the Korean National Police Agency said.
The investigation team includes three police detectives and a forensic expert for gun analysis, the official added.
Two man and one woman, confirmed by the Foreign Ministry as Korean nationals, were found dead in a remote sugar field in Bacolor, some 75 kilometers northwest of Manila, early Monday morning.
The victims who were in their 40s and 50s, were shot in the head. Two were tied up and the local police suspect murder.
The police revealed that the two men departed for the country on Aug. 16 through Hong Kong. The woman left Korea three days after the two. While the police were careful not to say anything about the rumor that the victims had fled after being involved in a crime back in Korea, it admitted that the three did not interact much with other local Korean residents. “Further investigation is needed on the matter, but the case looks different from typical contract killings according to the local police,” a police authority said.
The Korean Embassy is working closely with local police to come up with an account of the incident, the Korean ministry said.
The number of Koreans killed in the Philippines has been on the rise. After six deaths in 2012, the number doubled in 2013 and has stayed in two-digit figures, with 10 deaths in 2014 and 11 in 2015.
So far this year, there have already been three victims. The latest deaths, if confirmed as homicides, would raise the tally to six.
As the number of violent crimes targeting Koreans in the Asian country has increased, the Korean government created a special investigative team, “Korean Desk,” to work and cooperate with the police in the Philippines in 2010. Currently six policemen work in the country.
In September, the task force caught a suspect who fled to the Southeast Asian country after killing a married couple 16 years ago in Korea.
Between last December and May, Korea also dispatched four additional teams of investigators to work on Korean murder cases, prompting the operation process.
“We will cooperate with the Philippines police and conduct a swift and thorough investigation,” the police said.
Over 90,000 Koreans reside in the Philippines, mostly in Manila and its surrounding areas. The Asian country is also a popular vacation destination among Koreans, with over 1.2 million Koreans traveling to the country each year.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)