Crime & Justice

Probe ordered after Philippine police kill ex-soldier near checkpoint

Manila, Apr 23 (efe-epa).- Philippine police have ordered a probe into a shooting incident that left a retired soldier dead near a quarantine checkpoint in Quezon City, state-run media agency said on Thursday.

Winston Ragos, 34, who allegedly tried to pull a gun on officers, was shot dead by a police officer when cops asked him to return home after he was caught flouting lockdown rules on Tuesday.

Philippines News Agency citing a police statement issued late Wednesday said that police chief General Archie Gamboa has directed the criminal investigation department to probe the incident.

The statement reiterated police claim that Ragos was killed as he “allegedly tried to draw a gun on (Master Sergeant) Daniel Florendo”.

The incident sparked outrage as it took place after President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the military and police to shoot dead all those who did not comply with the rules.

At a press conference on Apr.1, Duterte authorized law enforcement officers to shoot to kill if people did not obey the quarantine rules, prompting a strong reaction from civil society and human rights groups.

The victim’s mother has told the media that her son suffered from post-traumatic stress after fighting in the Battle of Marawi, a five-month-long conflict between government security forces and militants in the southern Philippines in 2017.

According to police, four officers were patrolling the street when Ragos approached them and began to shout at them.

The officers asked Ragos to return home saying he was violating quarantine rules when he pulled out a .38-caliber pistol, which prompted Florendo to shoot him, according to police claim.

In CCTV footage that has gone viral, residents of the area can be seen trying to dissuade the police from firing at the victim.

National police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said the viral video clips of the incident showed that the victim had also repeatedly defied verbal commands given by authorities to yield and made “provocative and threatening moves, as well as the use of firearms and application of deadly force”.

“Much as we do not want to hastily pass judgment and allow investigators the freehand to look into all angles of this case, we can only presume regularity in the actions of the PNP personnel involved while performing their duty on that fateful day,” Banac said.

According to some local media reports, one of the witnesses is heard telling the cops in the video that “he is not in his right mind, just let him go”.

The police responded saying “don’t bother us, mind your own business, we have to shoot him dead”.

Cristina Palabay, the secretary-general of Karapatan, an alliance of human rights organizations, said the killing showed that the president’s “shoot them dead orders and threats of a martial law-like takeover are not mere exaggerations”.

“We have heard this order in the bloody drug war before,” Palabay said.

Karapatan and other civil groups have reported numerous rights abuses during quarantine that has led to a militarization of the streets and arrests of activists. EFE-EPA


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