Duterte apologizes to Koreans for kidnap-slay case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte apologized Thursday to Korean investors and Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim Jae-Shin for the kidnapping and killling of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo.

At the ceremonial switch-on of Sarangani Energy Corporation, the President said he already knows who the perpetrators are, promising "maximum punishment."

"I am very sorry for that sordid incident, but I can assure you, kayong mga pulis, 'di ko kayo palulusutin [you policemen, I will not let you get away]," Duterte said in a speech. "You will suffer."

After his apology, Duterte said if convicted, the suspects would get the death penalty if it were still allowed.

"I'm asking for its restoration," he said. "You give that power back to me again? I'll execute them. I'll hang them, 20 a day. And if you need an additional fuel, I'd (be) glad to send you the cadavers to fuel the burners."

Related: House Majority Leader: Death penalty debates to start this week

The Jee Ick-joo case

Initial investigations showed Jee was taken from his home October last year in a "tokhang for ransom" scheme allegedly perpetrated by high-ranking police officers.

Read: Wife of abducted Korean national posts ₱100,000 reward for info

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Jee's family paid a ₱5-million ransom two weeks after his kidnapping. Despite this, the NBI said the abductors did not release Jee, and instead demanded an additional ₱4 million.

NBI Regional Director Ric Diaz said the family asked the kidnappers for proof that Jee was still alive. But Diaz said the kidnappers did not do so, prompting Jee's family to approach investigators.

Jee was strangled to death in Camp Crame before he was cremated at a funeral parlor owned by a former police official, investigators said.

Related: Dela Rosa expresses shame over killing of Korean in Camp Crame

SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, the alleged driver of one of the vehicles used in the kidnapping, is now in police custody.

Read: SPO3 Sta. Isabel arrested, detained at Camp Crame

Philippine National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa said there is "overwhelming evidence" against Sta. Isabel.

Read: PNP Chief: 'Overwhelming evidence' vs. cop in Korean kidnap-slay

Meanwhile, Sta. Isabel denied killing Jee, saying he was following the orders of his supervisor, Supt. Rafael Dumlao.

No travel ban

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Ambassador Kim said Koreans were shocked by what happened to Jee. He admitted some are already quite hesitant to come to the Philippines.

Kim also shared they issued a travel advisory to their citizens who intend to visit the country, telling them to be extra careful and vigilant. But he clarified there is no travel ban.

"We are embarrassed a heinous crime was committed, so that's why I asked the person to investigate thoroughly and that those who are involved be brought to justice," Kim said.

CNN Philippines Digital Producer VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.