KOREAN officials denied the presence of a mafia in Cebu as claimed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Consul Yong Sung Lee, police attaché in Cebu, said there were about 20 Koreans who hid in Cebu to evade prosecution from 2009 to 2013. Five of these fugitives were members of crime syndicates, but they were reportedly on their own after they arrived in Cebu.

Lee called them as “gangsters.”

“They come to Cebu to hide, not to inflict harm on Filipinos,” he said Wednesday, February 8, during a joint press conference with the Philippine law enforcement officials.

The fugitives Lee mentioned were already deported. Most of their cases are estafa and physical injuries, and only a few committed serious ones like murder.

The officials also said that after the Korean government appointed a police attaché in Cebu in 2014, police did not record sensational crimes involving Koreans.

In 2013, two Koreans were burned to death inside their car in Danao City.

Duterte said in a press conference in Davao City over the weekend that the Korean mafia, which reportedly controls a drug trade and prostitution business, is strongest in Cebu. This was confirmed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Central Visayas Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz, who said he knew about it since 2009 when he was still the deputy director.

“We caught a Korean national last September who posed as a tourist guide and was also found to be selling drugs among his clients. That is an indicator that there is a syndicate moving underground in Cebu City,” Ruiz told SunStar SuperBalita Cebu earlier.

Police Regional Office Central Visayas Director Noli Taliño said Wednesday that they support Duterte's statement, but they are still validating it. (KAL/SunStar Cebu)