NBI: Cops murdered Winston Ragos, planted evidence
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has concluded that Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo Jr and other police companions murdered former soldier Winston Ragos, and planted evidence in the crime scene during the scuffle over enforcing quarantine rules in Quezon City in April.
NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin confirmed to reporters on Thursday, June 4, that the bureau has filed complaints of murder, perjury and planting of evidence against Florendo before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office. Murder is a non-bailable offense.
Aside from Florendo, police trainees Joy Flaviano, Arnel Fontillas, Dante Fronda and Dalejes Gaciles are also sued for murder. Florendo and Staff Sargeant Hector Besas are sued for planting of evidence.
This is different to the complaints filed by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), which only sued Florendo – one of its own – for homicide, which is bailable. The QCPD also did not file a complaint against Florendo for planting of evidence.
Prosecutors have to determine probable cause and transmit it to the court where the judge would decide whether or not to issue a warrant.
Quoting an old Supreme Court case, the NBI wrote in its complaint "never has homicide or murder been a function of law enforcement. The public peace is never predicated on the cost of human life."
In a statement on Thursday, the Philippine Army welcomed the filing of the complaints.
"May this development be the first step in our quest of justice for Ragos and his family. Through this, we hope that we can at least honor his sacrifices to the nation he served, and raise awareness on the mental health issues our soldiers face," the statement said.
Florendo shot dead Ragos near a quarantine control point in Barangay Pasong Putik on April 21, following an argument over enforcing the rule against people leaving their homes for non-essential tasks. This happened even after people in the area who knew Ragos had repeatedly told cops that he was mentally ill.
Florendo had claimed that when Ragos turned his back on the cops, he reached into his sling bag for a gun. Taking that as a signal of aggression, Florendo shot him twice. Video would show bystanders telling cops that Ragos was unarmed.
A gun was found inside his pouch after the incident. Witnesses and family members said all Ragos had in his pouch was a water bottle. (READ: Winston Ragos' mom to Duterte gov’t: Coronavirus is the enemy, not my son)
The NBI probe was triggered in part by a request from the army and a direct order from Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. – Rappler.com