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Top Gear Philippines

Alabang Hills accident (July 16, 2014)

Here is a head-shaking story that has been brought to our attention. We've verified the identities (and credibility) of the complainant and her sister (who furnished us with the information you will read here). The wrecked car you see in the photo above is the Kia Picanto of the complainant, Tracy Joanne Pagal. It was hit by a Nissan X-Trail in the afternoon of July 16 in Alabang Hills Village in Muntinlupa City, while it was parked by the side of the road.

The Korean guy who was driving the X-Trail--identified as Minkwan Kim--somehow "managed" to escape from the police station--according to his police custodian--in spite of him having just sustained stitches in one leg as a result of the accident, giving him significant difficulty in moving around.

Well, we'll let Tracy tell you the full story (everything that's in italics):

I was in Alabang Hills last July 16. I went over to my friend’s house in Residencia at around 4:30pm. At around 4:50pm, we heard a loud crash and we went outside to check what it was. We saw my parked car (Kia Picanto) and another white car (Honda Civic) crashed by a white Nissan X-Trail with plate number ZLE-443. The driver of the X-Trail was inside, unconscious and with the vehicle's airbag activated.

Apparently, he had been speeding as he crashed the car and lost control. He crashed into my car, which crashed into the car parked in front of me. He then swerved over the small island and onto the other side of the road.

Within minutes, there were policemen at the scene of the accident; there were also officers from the NBI and the Alabang Hills security office. I am not sure if there was another man in the car with the Korean, Mr. Minkwan Kim. They brought him to the hospital and towed the cars away.

At around 8pm, I went to the Muntinlupa precinct with Edong (the driver and representative of the owner of the Civic) and my parents. The investigator in charge, PO3 Alex Ronda, got our contact details and informed us that Mr. Kim was still in the hospital being stitched up, and that he would be transferred to the precinct afterward. They said they would just call us upon his arrival. So we went home.

At around 10:30pm, I received a text from PO3 Ronda, informing me that the suspect was already there and would talk to us. When we got to the police station, there were a few police officers with Mr. Kim and three other Korean friends. One of them was supposedly the owner of the X-Trail that had crashed into my car. He told us that we should not go after him, and that we should instead go after Mr. Kim and sue him. That man (the supposed X-Trail owner) said that he would report the car as carnapped and sue Mr. Kim as well. After a few minutes, they left.


Mr. Kim then said that he would just pay for our car since it was already too damaged to be used again. He negotiated with my parents, and after some time it was agreed that he would pay P80,000 the next day (July 17), P70,000 the day after that (July 18) and the remaining P150,000 next month. Since his leg was stitched up, he had a hard time moving around.

The next day, we went back to the precinct at 10am as had been arranged. But PO3 Ronda informed us that Mr. Kim had escaped at around 3am. He said that Mr. Kim was in handcuffs and escaped after asking to go to the restroom. After 20 minutes, PO3 Ronda said, they realized Mr. Kim was gone.

Now, this would be a difficult scenario to imagine since the suspect could not even walk properly--never mind escape trained policemen who had him in custody. PO3 Ronda apologized profusely and promised to sue the Korean and update us on the case.

I asked for the police report and went back to get it around 2pm that day. They did not have any substantial details, not even the name of the person who owned the car or the other friends who visited Mr. Kim. I asked PO3 Ronda the names of the men who guarded Mr. Kim, but he did not want to give these. I told him I would be back, and asked him to update me on when they would be able to contact the LTO regarding the car’s owner so we could file insurance for my car. I have not heard from their side since.

I have been in contact with the investigator in Alabang Hills, and they have been helpful. They filed a police report and had a copy made for me. They were able to get the name of the other person who was assigned to the case, SPO1 Primo Ragasi. I have not reported the incident to any other official channel since it is hard to know which one to trust.

Okay, this is us (Top Gear Philippines) now talking. Not mentioned in the narration above is that curious little piece of "advice" the cops gave the complainant. They said she shouldn't go after the suspect anymore because "he's a member of the Korean mob." Can you imagine our own Filipino policemen telling us this on Philippine soil? Awesome. Just effing awesome.


Let us now ask a few questions:

* How in the world was a seriously injured man able to escape our very competent policemen? Was he somehow Korea's version of David Copperfield?

* Before the complainant returned to the police station late in the evening of the accident, what had the cops been discussing with the Koreans? Was there anything to be negotiated? Some bargaining and haggling perhaps?

* Based on the suspect's negotiation with the complainant, he was supposed to pay her P300,000 for damages. Is it hard to imagine he could have offered his captors a third of that sum so they would let him go and help him intimidate the complainant so she wouldn't go after him anymore?

* How many more violations was the suspect really guilty of? In the police report below, his home address is indicated. But then the police's narration of facts also says the suspect "was driving without a license at the time of the accident." That means the indicated address may have even been a fabricated one. And if it's not, what are the police waiting for? Why can't they just go to the indicated address to look for the suspect?

* Just who is this Minkwan Kim? Is that even his real name? What is his business in the Philippines?

* Where is the X-Trail now? To which specific owner can it be traced? Does it even legally belong to the Koreans?

Guys, something is terribly amiss here. If our cops are now more willing to protect alien thugs (if indeed those Koreans are mobsters) than their own countrymen, we are truly, seriously screwed.

UPDATE: We deleted the name of the NBI officer initially mentioned, upon the request of the complainant.


Alabang Hills accident (July 16, 2014)

Alabang Hills accident (July 16, 2014)

Vernon B. Sarne
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