CHR starts probe into shooting of ex-soldier in QC checkpoint
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Thursday said that it is already investigating the shooting of a retired soldier by a policeman manning a checkpoint in Barangay Pasong Putik, Quezon City.
In a statement, CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline De Guia said that there have been “clashing narratives” in the death of retired Army Cpl. Winston Ragos, such as whether or not he had a gun in his bag, which prompted police Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo Jr. to shoot him.
“(T)here are different accounts of what transpired, including clashing narratives on whether the victim had a pistol in his sling bag, which the police claims as a sign of imminent danger, thus resulting to the shooting,” De Guia stated
“The Commission on Human Rights is already investigating this matter,” she added.
After the incident, which happened on Tuesday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) ordered the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) to investigate the matter.
PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa then reminded his men to make “proper judgment calls” should they be faced in situations when enforcing quarantine laws. He added that the PNP is ready to file proper charges against Florendo, if investigation showed he was at fault.
The CHR spokesperson further stated that since the implementation of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine and lockdowns imposed in other areas, the commission stressed that law enforcers “must always remain respectful of human rights, even in the face of a national health emergency.”
“We recognize that law enforcement officials are important in the protection of life, liberty, property, and the security of person—guaranteed rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in our 1987 Constitution,” De Guia stated. “But there are also guidelines set on the use of force that law enforcers must strictly observe.”
De Guia cited the provisions under “The Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials,” as adopted by the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, which states that, “Law enforcement officials, in carrying out their duty, shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms.”
“Under the same principles, it was outlined that if the use of force and firearms is unavoidable, then authorities must practice restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense, mindful of minimizing damage and injury and with respect to the preservation of human life,” she said.
Such principles, De Guia stated, are also found in the Philippine National Police operational procedures where it prohibits the use of “excessive force” during police operations.
De Guia said the CHR is looking forward to the QCPD’s “fair and impartial” investigation on the shooting incident.
“And similar to cases of alleged ’self-defense’ when confronted with imminent danger, we also reiterate our call to allow the rule of law to prevail and let the scrutiny of the proper courts weigh in on the question if the circumstances are justifiable to warrant the shooting, which eventually resulted to a death,” De Guia added.
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