PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday ordered a thorough investigation into a cellphone-recorded incident in Quezon City where a policeman manning a quarantine control point shot and killed an ex-Army soldier who reportedly attempted to pull out a concealed firearm while being accosted around 2:30 p.m. last Tuesday.
“A full-dress investigation is underway to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting incident in Q.C. PNP chief, Gen. Gamboa is leaving it up to the Q.C. Police District to conduct a thorough investigation into an otherwise gun check operation that turned awry,” said PNP spokesman, Brigadier Gen. Bernard M. Banac.
Banac referred to the incident in which suspect Winston Aquino Ragos, a 34-year old ex-Army trooper ‘tried to draw a gun’ on Police Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo leaving the latter with no option to fire in what QCPD director, Brig. Gen. Ronnie S. Montejo described as a ‘judgment call’ on the part of the police officer.
National Capital Region Police Office director, Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas said that Ragos is a 33-year old retired Armed Forces personnel residing at no. 65 Sampaguita Street in Bgy. Pasong Putik, Q.C.
PMSgt. Florendo was the duty supervisor of four PNP Highway Patrol Group rookie personnel who were undergoing Field Training Program or On-the-Job-Training at the QCPD Station 5 Quarantine Control Point in Barangay Pasong Putik on Tuesday afternoon.
Banac said that the QCPD Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit has taken over the investigation of the case.
“Much as we do not want to hastily pass judgement 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,” he however said.
According to the PNP spokesperson, “PMSgt Florendo was the only person in the best position to make that judgment call, better than any observer, viewer and opinionated analyst with 20/20 hindsight. Had he erred in his judgement, he could possibly be the cadaver in the body bag instead. If that happened then he would have failed in performing his duty to enforce the law,” he said.
“If the video clips were to be the sole basis of investigation, it is apparent that the rules of engagement prescribed in the Revised Police Operational Procedures were observed during the confrontation, more importantly when the gunman repeatedly defied the verbal command given by the police to yield and cease making provocative and threatening moves, as well as the use of firearms and application of deadly force. At any rate, the investigation will not limit its probe on scenes that were captured in the video clips only. All angles will be looked into and corroborated by conclusive forensic evidence,” Banac added.
The PNP spokesman said that all guns, ammunition, accessories, fired cartridge cases and recovered bullets at the scene of the shooting will be subjected to ballistics examination as a standard procedure. They include the handgun and ammunition recovered from the slain suspect for possible comparison with ballistics information of gun-related crime in the PNP database.
“By all means, we urge the public to please refrain from mishandling video evidence of this homicide case, which is tantamount to obstruction of justice; and to allow the process of investigation to proceed sans any external influence of opinionated hysteria, subjective bias and anti-police sentiment,” Banac said.
Sinas said that the shooting incident took place in front of Genel’s Silog along Maligaya Drive corner Sampaguita Street in Bgy. Pasong Putik.
The NCRPO director said that an initial investigation showed that PMSgt. Florendo and the four HPG trainees were manning their QCPD when Ragos approached the HPG personnel and started shouting and uttering unsavory words on them, apparently resisting their strict enforcement of the quarantine rules in the area.
Sinas said that the policemen asked Ragos to go home and stay inside as he was already violating the Enhanced Community Quarantine. However, Ragos ignored the authorities and further identified himself as a former soldier.
The NCRPO chief said that when PMSgt. Florendo confronted the suspect, he refused orders for him to peacefully yield while holding a bag. He said that Florendo was forced to open fire a the ex-soldier when he attempted to pull a gun in his bag.
The suspect was shot twice in the body and died while being taken to the Commonwealth Hospital.
Sinas said that recovered inside the bag thrown by Ragos were one caliber .38 Smith & Wesson revolver without serial number and containing four live ammunition and one wallet with assorted IDs and ATM cards.
The official said that PMSgt. Florendo voluntarily turned himself over to the local police station after bringing the ex-soldier to the hospital.
Sinas also ordered the QCPD District Internal Affairs Service to join the investigation into the incident. "A formal fact-finding investigation is being conducted right now. However, we can see from the video that the police officer was prompt in making a decision especially that lives of people are in danger,” he said.