By Martin Sadongdong
General Felimon Santos Jr., Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), on Friday appealed for calm after the death of a former soldier suffering from a mental illness during a confrontation with a police officer manning a quarantine checkpoint in Quezon City.
Santos’ statement came after concerns were raised that the relationship of the military and the police might be affected by the killing of former Corporal Winston Ragos, 34.
Ragos, who was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was shot dead by Police Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo, of Quezon City Police Station 5, during a confrontation fueled by mean looks in a quarantine checkpoint along Maligaya Drive corner Sampaguita Street, Barangay Pasong Putik last Tuesday.
The military and the police are working together to implement the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Let us not exacerbate the situation. We agree that the action taken by the policemen concerned was his judgment call but as to whether he made the right judgment and whether his actions are appropriate is his alone and does not reflect (that of) the [Philippine National Police] as an organization,” Santos said.
“At this time when both the AFP and the PNP are working closely against this threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, we would not want this incident to cause animosity between the two organizations,” he added.
On Thursday, Santos instructed the Army Judge Advocate to investigate the incident. A separate probe was also being conducted by the QCPD.
“Suffice it to say, there is going to be an investigation and appropriate criminal and administrative charges and penalties will be meted as may be warranted,” Santos said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Army clarified that Ragos was not a Marawi siege veteran as earlier reports stated.
“He was not in Marawi,” Colonel Ramon Zagala, Army spokesperson, confirmed in a text message.
According to Zagala, Ragos was first diagnosed with PTSD in 2010.
He had been confined at the V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City after an armed engagement with the New People’s Army (NPA).
“That’s were it started,” Zagala said.
Eventually, Ragos had been released from the hospital but was re-admitted in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
He was given a certificate of disability discharge (CDD) in December 2016. It took effect on January 16, 2017.
Earlier, Zagala said in a statememt that Ragos was discharged in the military service in November 2017, a month after the Marawi siege ended.
Zagala also clarified that Ragos’ rank was Corporal and not Private First Class, as what was stated in his previous statement.
He explained that Ragos was discharged as a Private First Class but given a rank higher upon his exit.
Read more: Ex-soldier shot dead at checkpoint