Trillanes: Cop drawing gun on Ragos 'is questionable already'

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Trillanes: Cop drawing gun on Ragos 'is questionable already'
This photo taken April 22 shows residents of Brgy. Pasong Putik in Quezon City put out candles on the location where former soldier Winston Ragos was shot dead by the police. They call for justice.
News5 / Camille Samonte, via Twitter

MANILA, Philippines — That a police officer drew his gun at all on former soldier Winston Ragos for supposedly breaking quarantine guidelines is a matter for closer scrutiny, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said.

"Before we reached to the point whether a gun was drawn or not, what crime did Ragos commit for him to have gun pointed at him, made to turn his back and raise his hands?" Trillanes wrote in Filipino on his Twitter account.

The former senator, who was previously a Philippine Navy officer, added: “Only because he violated the [Enhancec Community Quarantine]? Even just on that point, you should be questioned.”

Trillanes’ Navy career includes five years at sea where he served different shipboard assignments and conducted law enforcement operations in Philippine waters. He was also part of naval operations in support of ground operations against the Abu Sayyaf, his Senate profile reads.

The Philippine National Police and Philippine Army are looking into the fatal shooting, allegedly in self-defense, of Ragos by Police MSgt. Daniel Floriendo.

The Quezon City Police District said in a statement that the Ragos accosted the cops manning a quarantine checkpoint and they “later learned” he was carrying a loaded revolver in his bag.

Florendo then drew his firearm and “cautiously approached Ragos.”

But the cops said Ragos “attempted to pull out his handgun” instead of following police orders to yield, which prompted Florendo to “disable” Ragos. He fired two shots against the former soldier; the second shot was made after Ragos already had his back turned, a circulating video showed.

Police Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo, QCPD director, said the shot was a “judgment call” of the cop.

What the PNP manual says

The Philippine National Police Guidebook on Human-Based Policing states that the use of lethal weapons is only authorized when a "person/group is armed and has attacked or is attacking the police officer and/or the any member of the public using lethal weapons."

Lethal weapons may also be used only when the “person/group is armed with factory manufactured and/or improvised small arms, light to heavy weapons, and explosives.”

A situation is deemed “assaultive” or one that may possible bodily harm when a “person/group is unarmed but resisting physically and/or verbally; and already poses a more serious threat to the police officer and to public safety.”

Threats may also have been made against the police.

Non-lethal weapons may be used such as “joint manipulations, body control techniques and baton/truncheon.”

“Do NOT draw nor use firearms and other lethal weapons,” the manual reads.

It notes however that if the situation escalates and the person/group increases the level of resistance, “the police officer should approach caution with his/her hand position and ready to draw the service firearm.”

Videos of the shooting show Ragos, who initially had his back to the police and his arms raised horizontally, being confronted by five men in police uniforms.

'Was Ragos attempting, committing a crime?'

Rights lawyer Chel Diokno also raised questions on the conduct of the operation that led to the fatal shooting of Ragos.

“Was he committing or attempting to commit a crime at the time? Was he a threat to the lives of the police or other persons in the area?” he wrote in a tweet.

He also noted that Ragos’ sister insisted that the victim was unarmed, contrary to police claims. “Why is there a person toward the end of the video who says, ‘Bakit niyo binaril sir? Dapat kinakapkapan niyo muna”?

(Why did you shoot him, sir? You should have frisked him first.)

The rights lawyer also asked why the police did not try to subdue Ragos when he had his arms raised and his back turned to them for a time. This was before he faced them and appeared to be reaching in his sling bag, which led to the shooting.

“Wouldn’t that have allowed them to restrain Cpl. Ragos without firing a shot?”

Diokno also asked what happened to Ragos' bag, supposedly where the revolver was found.

"Who took it from the crime scene, searched it, and (allegedly) found the weapon?," he said.

The veteran rights lawyer noted that the Revised PNP Operations Manual "provides that it should be the investigator-on-case or the Scene-of-the-Crime-Officer, not the operatives involved in the incident, who should take charge of and process the crime scene."

'Florendo was merely following instructions'

Police Gen. Archie Gamboa, PNP chief, told ANC on Thursday morning that Florendo was simply “following instruction” when he fired at the army veteran.

"When we are confronted with an armed aggressor or a suspect—because a lot of police men have already died—actually my instruction is really don't let the other person go first," police chief Gamboa added in a mix of English and Filipino.

In a separate radio interview Wednesday night, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, said: "When a suspect does not follow a command like 'put your hands up', then he has the intention to fight back or may be armed. He is challenging the police.”

"The suspect really had a gun in his bag. And our police are strictly enforcing [Enhanced Community Quarantine] and the suspect likely took offense that he was being scolded by police," the police spokesperson also said.

The family denied that Ragos has a gun, and stressed that the former soldier was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and schizoprenia.

The Philippine Army backed this and said Ragos was discharged from service in November 2017 after he was diagnosed with a mental disorder.

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