Army wary of police 'prejudgment' in Ragos shooting

Army wary of police 'prejudgment' in Ragos shooting
A relative lights a candle on Thursday midnight where retired Cpl. Winston Ragos was shot after a short standoff with police manning a checkpoint at Barangay Pasong Putik in Quezon City.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

'[T]he ones who handled the evidence are those who are also in the shooting.'

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Army said it is concerned by remarks by police officials that the shooting death of a former soldier by a Quezon City policeman that contradict those of witnesses and give the impression that the officials had already prejudged the incident.

In the wake of the shooting by a police officer, allegedly in self-defense, of retired Cpl. Winston Ragos last week, police leadership had called the shooting a "judgment call" and had said  Police MSgt. Daniel Florendo was only "following instructions."

The Quezon City Police District on Friday said it had filed a homicide complaint against Florendo.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Army spokesperson, said the judge advocate general—the lawyer of the Army—found inconsistencies in statements from the police and from witnesses.

"The testimonies were different between the witnesses and the police. The statements given, there was an image of prejudgment," Zagala told the ABS-CBN News Channel on Monday.

"The pronouncement that worried us was that announcement were being made that it was self-defense, that it was judgment call. We were hoping that would be answered during the trial itself not during pronouncements so that investigators will be impartial," he added.

Ragos, who was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, was shot dead by Florendo at a quarantine checkpoint in Quezon City last Tuesday. 

The Philippine National Police earlier said it will launch a probe into Florendo—the cop who shot Ragos twice—but insisted the officer was under threat by the 34-year-old Army veteran and was prompted to shoot him.

"When you are confronted with a person armed with a pistol, its equivalent is also a pistol," Police Gen. Archie Gamboa, PNP chief, said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel last week.

In a separate interview, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP directorial staff chief, said the policeman may have acted in self-defense when he shot Ragos.

Zagala also said the Army was concerned with how pieces of evidence in the fatal shooting were handled.

“That's one of the concerns of judge advocate that the ones who handled the evidence are those who are also in the shooting,” the Army spokesperson said.

Police claimed a caliber .38 revolver was found in Ragos’ sling bag but a witness said that the victim was unarmed.

Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, Army chief, earlier sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation to launch a probe into the fatal shooting.

“We believe it’s beneficial for both PNP and Philippine Army that an impartial investigation will be done,” Zagala said.

Ragos was laid to rest on Sunday at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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