Warning: Graphic footage ahead
On the afternoon of April 22, CCTV footage of soldiers firing shots at a citizen made rounds on the internet and made everyone simultaneously afraid and outraged. Everyone had different opinions on the situation but it doesn’t change the fact that violence was used when it could have been avoided and someone paid the price with their life.
What started the incident?
WATCH: Police shot a mentally-challenged man in Pasong Putik, Quezon City on Tuesday afternoon. Residents nearby tried to stop the policeman from shooting but they were just told to get inside their homes. @cnnphilippines pic.twitter.com/5aPNirE2LW
— Gerg Cahiles (@gergcahiles) April 22, 2020
Maligaya Drive in Quezon City witnessed a disturbing scene on the afternoon of April 22. Highway Patrol Group police trainees manning one of the city’s checkpoints had a skirmish with a resident. According to the police report from the QCPD, the victim, identified as Winston Ragos, approached the group of soldiers and demanded to know why they were looking at him in a threatening way. The policemen instructed Ragos to go home since he was violating the Enhanced Community Quarantine lockdown by being outside but he refused. Then, things got out of hand.
The situation quickly escalated
Warning: this is a graphic on-ground footage of the fatal shooting incident in Pasong Putik yesterday, currently circulating on Facebook.
After the police shot the victim twice, a nearby resident can be heard screaming: “Bakit niyo binaril, sir? Dapat kinapkapan niyo muna!” pic.twitter.com/o0FfgwXu6J
— Philip Jamilla (@pmjamilla) April 22, 2020
This video was recorded by one of the policemen
According to witnesses, things escalated in a matter of minutes. The policemen called for backup so it was five against one. Police Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo Jr. pointed a gun at Ragos and shouted for him to lie on the ground and surrender. Ragos only raised his hands. However, once he turned around and made a move to get something out of his sling bag, Florendo fired 2 shots at him.
The victim was identified as a retired corporal suffering from PTSD
The man was a former corporal na nadeploy sa Marawi and nagkaroon ng Schizophrenia and PTSD. He was rushed to the hospital but died immediately after. https://t.co/3L7RrkSsCA
— lumpiangprolet (@michaelwhosayan) April 22, 2020
REVOLTING! The man was mentally disabled, diagnosed w/ PTSD due to warshock. He was once a soldier and he fought for Marawi’s freedom. He was not a leftist, but was killed by police.
Ano nga ‘yun ulit?
“pArA KaSi Sa LeFtIsT yUnG sHoOt To KiLl WaLa KaYoNg rEaDiNg CoMpReHeNsIoN” pic.twitter.com/8VqJcuw764
— (@krizzy_kalerqui) April 22, 2020
Winston Ragos was later identified by his family and was found to be a 34-year-old retired AFP personnel. His last assignment was in Marawi and his family confirmed that he has been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since 2011. The policemen that shot him rushed to call for an ambulance but it was too late, he already succumbed to his wounds.
The policemen that responded to the scene overreacted
To the police officer who shot Winston Ragos, I hope God doesn’t let you sleep tonight. #JusticeForWinstonRagos
— ᴅᴇɴɪᴄᴇ (@veet93) April 22, 2020
That’s it. That’s the tweet. #JusticeForWinstonRagos
Photo not mine pic.twitter.com/xL3iVSNCjw
— V o g u e #DefendPressFreedom (@axcelquing_) April 22, 2020
Bystanders could be heard pleading with the police not to shoot Ragos but the police were undeterred. “Wala akong pake kahit walang dala,” they said, clearly heard in another video, meaning they don’t care even if Ragos didn’t have a weapon on him.
There were five policemen on the scene and they could have easily overpowered Ragos and tackled him to the ground but they chose to resort to violence instead. If we take Florendo’s point of view into consideration, that he was in a stressful situation against a possible madman, it still doesn’t justify the fact that the first action he made was to shoot first. The first shot wasn’t even made to disarm the victim and the second shot was done when he already turned his back on the police.
Was the victim armed or unarmed?
The guy suffered from ptsd due to warshock. He once fought for freedom ng kababayan natin sa Marawi. A hero. Fought terroists during war and still fighting to recover from his Mental Illness. A true warrior on and off the battle field. But was killed by his fellow servant. pic.twitter.com/BcBbZEczye
— Gxxrgx (@Grgmatcha) April 22, 2020
I can’t stand other people commenting on this matter na “BUTI NGA SAYO, PASAWAY KASI SA GOBYERNO”. How the fuck can u normalize killing because may ‘nagpasaway’? Grabe kayo. #JusticeForWinstonRagos!!! https://t.co/VwQocOWai6
— KOLIN (@katecolx_) April 22, 2020
Once Ragos was shot in the body twice, not even on his leg to “disarm” him, he threw his sling bag on the road, stood for a few more seconds, and then fell on the ground. The police report said they recovered a caliber 38 gun without a serial number and with 4 ammunitions in his bag. Witnesses denied that Ragos had a firearm on him, his family also fiercely denied that he had weapons.
The 9-minute version of the CCTV footage uploaded on Facebook showed the police taking Ragos’ bag after he was shot.
Who was the bigger threat in this situation?
The president’s “shoot them dead” order is directed only towards “leftists?” Winston Ragos is a retired soldier—someone who was likely trained to view leftists as enemies—and was shot dead by the police.
The “shoot them dead” order is a threat to everybody, and no one is safe.
— Philip Jamilla (@pmjamilla) April 22, 2020
Was it a man suffering from PTSD or was it 5 policemen with one of them pointing a deadly weapon? Netizens were outraged for the situation and grieved for the victim. They’re convinced it’s a mishandling of the situation and the policemen, specifically Florendo, should be held accountable.
Let’s be reminded who the real enemy is
The real enemy here is the coronavirus pandemic that we’re all desperately trying to survive. The real threat here is a virus that’s a huge danger to our citizens and the fact that the government still refuses to grant mass testing and our facilities can’t cope with the ballooning number of cases. The real problem here is that our policemen are obviously trained (and encouraged) to use force first and talk later. Empathy is thrown out the window and power-tripping makes people feel validated. How then can you not fear for the future?
Will we see justice?
READ: The Philippine Army has ordered an investigation on the killing of former soldier Winston Ragos. | via @JervisManahan pic.twitter.com/s5TvolZSNV
— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) April 23, 2020
Although justice might be difficult to come by these days (when was it ever easy anyway?), there’s still hope. Ragos’ family will be filing a complaint against the police. News reports also say that criminal and administrative cases will be filed against Florendo and the Philippine Army have already ordered an investigation. We sincerely hope they get to the bottom of this.
What are your thoughts on this incident?