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
'Not sent back to cops': DOJ sets preliminary probe into homicide complaint over Ragos slay
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - May 18, 2020 - 5:20pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:50 p.m.) — The Department of Justice has set a preliminary investigation into a homicide complaint over the killing of ex-soldier Winston Ragos—filed by his family and the Philippine National Police—next month.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told Philstar.com that prosecutors did not remand the complaint to the police, clarifying Police Gen. Archie Gamboa’s earlier statement.

"The DOJ in fact set it for a full-blown preliminary investigation in June (instead of a summary inquest) to afford all parties concerned sufficient opportunity to present their respective evidence," Guevarra said.

“Hearing is set in mid-June,” the DOJ chief added.

Gamboa earlier said in an interview with DZMM TeleRadyo that the complaint was "still lacking on evidence" and "would not warrant filing of the appropriate case."

"That’s why the case was returned to the police for further investigation," he added.

Police M/Sgt. Daniel Florendo shot Ragos—allegedly in self-defense—in Barangay Pasong Putik on April 21 after the former supposedly started an argument with personnel of the Quezon City Police District unprovoked. 

Although police leadership was quick to defend Florendo, the Supreme Court in 2013 ruled in Aguilar vs Department of Justice et al.—a case that involved a suspect being killed in police custody—that "when the accused admits killing the victim, but invokes a justifying circumstance, the constitutional presumption of innocence is effectively waived and the burden of proving the existence of such circumstance shifts to the accused."

Gun planted?

The National Bureau of Investigation is conducting a separate probe into Florendo's fatal shooting of Ragos as requested by the Philippine Army.

Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, Army chief, in a letter addressed to NBI Director Eric Dastor on April 24, requested the bureau to conduct an impartial investigation into the incident in light of "apparent conflicting claims of police operatives involved, witness accounts, and materials available from open sources."

"Apparent prejudgment by police investigators moved the Army to seek help from the NBI so that justice may be served for Ragos and his family," the Army said in a press statement.

Top police officials virtually cleared Florendo in the incident, saying in separate statements that he shot Ragos in self-defense.

An Abante report over the weekend, quoting an unnamed source, said that the NBI probe found that the gun was “planted,” contradicting a police report that the former soldier was carrying a firearm.

But Guevarra refused to comment on the report and said: “All evidence will come out during the preliminary investigation. Let’s wait for it, in fairness to all parties involved.”

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