CEBU CITY, Philippines—The police arrested two Koreans and a Filipino for alleged involvement in carnapping in Metro Cebu and recovered at least seven Hyundai Starex vans.
The police identified the suspects as Korean nationals Kim Jae Young, 42, alias Leo Lim/Andy; Hong Seo Yong, 28, alias Luis; and Raphael Montilla, 27, alias Raprap, a registered nurse and a resident of Vista Grande, Barangay (village) Bulacao, Talisay City.
Two of the vans were seized from the house of Montilla while five others were recovered along A.S. Fortuna St. and the streets in Maguikay highway and Cabangcalan, all in Mandaue City. Former Philippine Basketball Association player Ramon Fernandez and his wife, Carla, own one of the recovered vans.
Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo, chief of Police Regional Office (PRO-7) said the three allegedly belonged to an organized group operating nationwide.
Chief Inspector George Ylanan, chief of Regional Operation Group (RSOG), an operating unit of Regional Intelligence Division (RID), said they first arrested Montilla at his home in Talisay City Tuesday afternoon after they received information that he was selling a Hyundai Starex van for only P40,000.
When the RSOG operatives arrived at Montilla’s home, they saw two Starex vans parked there.
The police asked for the certificates of registration of the two vehicles, but Montilla could not present any so he was arrested and taken to the RSOG office for questioning.
During the investigation, Montilla admitted that two Koreans had asked him to sell the Starex vans.
A follow-up operation was conducted Tuesday night and based on the information Montilla gave, the police arrested Kim and Hong inside a hotel in downtown Cebu City.
The police recovered a manual for Starex van, several keys including blank keys, car door lock components, wrenches, metal piles and other tools—which could be used for a carnapping operation—from the suspects’ room. They also seized syringes and ampoules of Nubain.
When questioned, the two Koreans identified a certain Mr. Chui, a resident of Maria Luisa Village in Banilad, and a certain Mr. Lim of Barangay Mactan in Lapulapu City as the masterminds.
Kim also admitted that he was directly involved in the carnapping of four Starex vans in the past two months only, Ylanan said.
He told the police he was an expert of van accessories even while he was still in Korea. He has been staying here for four years although he had gone back to Korea several times.
Hong, who has been staying in the Philippines for two years, said Kim befriended him when they met at the Mactan airport in January.
However, the police believed that Kim and Hong have long known each other.
Hong said his role was only to inform Chui and Lim of the place where Kim left the carnapped vehicles and to look for a Filipino who would sell the stolen vehicles, he added.
Hong also told the police that the vehicle would be retrieved later by the underlings of Chui and Lim.
Since Tuesday evening, the police had been visiting Korean-owned car shops in Mandaue City.
Chief Inspector Michael Anthony Bastes, chief of Investigation and Detective Management Branch (IDMB) of Mandaue City police, said the Korean shop owners might have been afraid of the police operation so they abandoned the vehicles at the three city streets.
The three will be charged with carnapping; in addition, the two Koreans will be charged with possession of dangerous drugs.
Fernandez told the police that based on the video footage of the closed circuit television camera of their neighbors in Villa Aurora Village, Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City, the Korean and a companion who stole his vehicle on January 19 was not among those who were arrested.
Based on this information, the police believed that more Koreans were involved in the carnapping operation.