The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) yesterday charged Master Sgt. Daniel Florendo Jr. with murder, perjury, and planting of evidence in connection with the death of former soldier Winston Ragos, a crime captured in controversial viral footage that led to accusations of police brutality.
Aside from Florendo, also charged with murder at the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office were his trainees Joy Flaviano, Arnel Fontillas, Dante Fronda, and Dalejes Gaciles, all of whom were present when the crime was committed. Meanwhile, Staff Sargeant Hector Besas was also sued for planting of evidence.
Florendo had been charged by the Quezon City Police District with homicide in April in connection with Ragos’ death. However, the prosecutor found the evidence against the suspect insufficient and asked the authorities to conduct a more thorough investigation.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines reportedly discovered that the police and witnesses offered contradictory accounts of what occurred on the day Ragos was killed, leading the organization to ask the NBI to conduct its own investigation.
In a statement released today, the Philippine Army, in which Ragos used to be a member of, said that the filing of charges against his killers “is a major step towards justice for our fallen hero, who has given the best years of his life in service to the country.”
“The Army expects indictment on all the cases filed and strongly believes that truth will prevail and justice will be served. May this initial development bring comfort to his family, and continue to raise awareness on mental health, and the plight of our soldiers who bear invisible scars of war,” they said.
Ragos was reportedly a Marawi Siege veteran who was discharged from the military after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental health condition experienced by many soldiers who have gone through terrifying events.
The victim was killed in April when Quezon City was under the enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Florendo and his four police trainees were stationed at a checkpoint in the village of Pasong Putik when Ragos approached and shouted at them. The cops told Ragos to go home because he was violating quarantine rules, which forbids people to leave their homes unless they need to buy essentials.
Ragos pulled up his hands in surrender but later reached for something in his bag which the police alleged was a gun. Florendo, believing that the victim was going to fight back, shot Ragos twice, causing the latter to fall to the ground. The former soldier was rushed to a hospital but he was declared dead on arrival.
In a CCTV footage from the incident, bystanders are heard pleading to Florendo not to shoot the victim. One witness told CNN Philippines, “I said, ‘Sir, please stop that. Don’t do anything to him.’ One police said, ‘Don’t meddle. I don’t care. We will kill him.’”
Another witness said that contrary to the police report, Ragos did not have a gun inside his bag, but only a quarantine pass.
This article, Quezon City cops murdered Ragos and planted evidence, NBI alleged, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!