QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Following the fatal shooting of former soldier Winston Ragos, a forensic and a human rights official question the Quezon City Police’s assertion that the shooting was a “judgment call”.
Ragos was shot dead on Tuesday by police when he was stopped for violating enhanced community quarantine rules at Barangay Pasong Putik in Fairview.
CCTV footage caught Ragos trying to retrieve something in his bag when a police officer shot him several times. Ragos was said to have suffered from trauma from his duty in the Marawi siege.
Prominent forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun questioned the police’s handling of the incident.
“From a vantage point, it is clear that the victim was outnumbered. The officers were also obviously armed, while there was only the possibility that Ragos was carrying a gun. And if using force was really necessary, they should only disable him. Reports say he was shot in the trunk, so the intent was not to disable,” she says.
Fortun lamented the lack of an independent investigation system and process in the country to handle such cases of police-related deaths.
“As you can see, those who will investigate the crime are also from the same organization. We should have a real, independent investigating body, to assure the integrity of police reports,” she explained.
The government’s Commission on Human Rights (CHR) also questioned if the use of force was done in accordance with police procedure.
CHR spokesperson asks, “Was it really necessary for the policemen to use their guns when there was no obvious indication that the victim was carrying a gun. The use of force necessitates, for example, the actual situation where the life of a police officer is put at risk. In this incident, we did not see a gun, nor did we see a gun pointed at the officers.”
“From looking at the video, we saw three policemen versus one victim. Was it in proportion to the risk that was present at that time? Having three policemen implies superior strength, not only because they were sufficiently armed, but because they were more in number,” de Guia added.
Ragos’ death comes three weeks after Philippine National Police Chief Archie Gamboa assured the public that they will not implement the “shoot on sight” statement by the President on “leftists” and citizens caught violating ECQ protocols.
QCPD Director-General Ronnie Montejo likewise called for an investigation on the matter and identified the police officer as Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo.
De Guia calls on PNP officers to ensure such pronouncements are understood by officers down to the lowest ranks in the institution.
“That’s where the danger lies. Sometimes, these statements are not clear to all, that they may have their own interpretations. We call on the PNP to release clear guidelines, so that incidents like this may be avoided in the future,” she says.
De Guia also reached out to the public to report to CHR hotlines on matters of state abuses they encounter during the quarantine.
Ragos was given military honors during his burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani last Friday. (davaotoday.com)