By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine Army (PA) welcomed on Friday the filing of murder charge, a non-bailable offense, against a police officer and four police trainees involved in the fatal shooting of retired Corporal Winston Ragos in a quarantine checkpoint in Quezon City in April.
Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay, Army Chief, said the murder charge filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBA) against Police Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo and his police trainees identified as P/Ts Dajeles Gaciles, Arnel Fontillas Jr., Joy Flaviano, and Dante Fronda “is a major step towards justice for our fallen hero.”
“The Army strongly believes that truth will prevail, and expects indictment on all the cases,” he said.
Aside from murder, the NBI also filed perjury against Florendo and the four trainees.
Meanwhile, a case for planting of evidence was lodged against Florendo and another cop, Staff Sergeant Hector Besas, after they allegedly put a gun in Ragos’ sling bag which was later collected by the investigators.
Ragos’ wife, Merlyn, who is also the complainant in the cases, earlier said that Ragos was suffering from mental problems and it was impossible for him to acquire a gun.
“May this initial development bring comfort to his family, and continue to raise awareness on mental health, and the plight of our soldiers who bear invisible scars,” Gapay said.
Ragos had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2010 after an armed engagement with the New People’s Army (NPA), according to Colonel Ramon Zagala, Army spokesperson.
He had been confined at the V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City in the same year and re-admitted in 2013, 2014, and 2016. He was given a certificate of disability discharge (CDD) in December 2016 which took effect on January 16, 2017.
On April 21, Ragos was shot dead by Florendo following a heated argument in a quarantine checkpoint in Barangay Pasong Putik. An initial police report said Ragos confronted the police trainees and questioned them why they were staring at him.
The trainees reported the incident to Florendo while Ragos passed through the checkpoint unchecked, prompting the officers to go after him.
Florendo and the trainees located Ragos in front of a local eatery where the shooting incident happened.
The officers claimed Ragos was reaching for his sling bag when they tried to arrest him, which prompted the cop to shoot him twice.
Ragos was given military honors before he was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on April 26.