Makabayan bloc condemns shooting of ex-soldier at QC checkpoint
MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives has condemned the shooting of a retired soldier at a quarantine checkpoint in Quezon City, saying the incident “highlights the draconian handling” of the coronavirus crisis.
House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the shooting showed the “prevailing ‘kill, kill kill’ mentality of our law enforcers under the present Duterte administration.”
“This incident highlights the draconian handling of the COVID crisis and this should immediately be changed before more are killed by trigger happy state forces,” Zarate said in a statement.
Zarate was reacting to the death of Retired Army Col. Winston Ragos who was shot to death by Quezon City policeman Police Mst. Sgt. Daniel Florendo on Wednesday despite the former appearing to have a mental illness.
According to a report from the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), Florendo was with his four police trainees while guarding a checkpoint in Barangay Pasong Putik when Ragos approached them and reportedly started shouting.
When police officers asked Ragos to return home and follow quarantine protocols, the former soldier refused saying he was a former member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Later, Ragos allegedly attempted to pull out a handgun from his sling bag, prompting Florendo to shoot him.
Videos of the incident showed residents of the area pleading to police officers to stay calm and said that the former soldier was suffering from a mental disorder. There are also reports that Ragos did not really have a gun in his possession.
Zarate said Florendo and his direct superiors should be held accountable.
“This incident should not be swept under the rug, otherwise, state forces will only continue the already worsening state of impunity in our country,” Zarate said.
’Terror and heavy-handed tactics’
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro meanwhile said the incident was a violation of human rights as Ragos was killed “without reason and due process.”
The incident, she added, also brought “terror and heavy-handed tactics” to the residents of the area.
“Law enforcement authorities are conveniently forgetting the PNP Operations Manual that forbids excessive use of force and to subdue suspects only where there is clear and imminent danger,” Castro said.
“‘Subdue’ meaning keep under control or deescalate and not automatically to shoot or kill, and ‘clear and imminent danger’ meaning actual danger and not merely a threatening or intimidating action,” the lawmaker added.
Castro then pointed to President Rodrigo Duterte as she mentioned his “shoot them dead” order to the police and military against quarantine violators.
“Ganito ang nangyayari sa tuwing ine-embolden ng presidente ang kapulisan upang lumabag ng karapatang pantao. Otorisado ang labis at di-kinakailangang pwersa o excessive use of force,” Castro said.
(This is what happens when the President emboldens the police force to violate human rights. Excessive use of force is authorized.)
This was echoed by Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago who said that the incident was a “consequence” of the President’s threat.
“This is a clear case of the militarist implementation of ECQ. The policemen involved are quick to point guns and shoot bullets to a man just for allegedly violating ECQ protocol,” Elago said.
“We must make the Police accountable for the killing of Winston. We cannot just let this pass as this incident may set a precedence for all alleged ECQ Violators. If this killing will not be given justice, this will make the culture of impunity in the country even worse,” she added.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, meanwhile, said that there are other human rights violations committed by police and military officials manning quarantine points.
“Pambabastos sa kababaihan sa mga checkpoint, trespassing sa mga residential condominiums, iligal na paghuli sa mga relief workers, at pamamaril sa mga sibilyan — araw-araw tila may bagong pakulo ang kapulisan sa pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan,” Brosas said.
(Disrespect of women in checkpoints, trespassing residential condominiums, illegal arrest of relief workers and shooting of civilians—the police seem to abuse their power every day.)
“This is what happens when you use ‘lethal force’ to resolve a health crisis. At this point, poor Filipinos are not only vulnerable because of the pandemic; they are also at risk due to the rampant police brutality in the country,” she added.
The Makabayan bloc in the lower chamber is composed of Bayan Muna Partylist, Gabriela Partylist, ACT Teachers Partylist, and Kabataan Partylist.
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