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With Due Respect

Army Cpl. Ragos v. Police MSgt. Florendo

The Quezon City (QC) Police and the heirs of Army Cpl. Winston Ragos filed homicide charges against Police MSgt. Daniel Florendo Jr. for the fatal shooting of the 34-year-old soldier who was retired due to post-traumatic stress disorder contracted while on military duty.

Ragos was accorded military honors, including a 21-gun salute, during his burial on April 26 at the heroes’ cemetery, the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Draped over his casket was a Philippine flag which was folded and handed to his grieving mother at the end of the ceremony.

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Media reported that Ragos was sipping soda outside his home in QC when five policemen accosted him for violating lockdown rules. Allegedly, he raised his hands in surrender but the cops, suspecting he was armed, ordered him to drop to the ground.

Instead of obeying, the soldier, according to the police, reached into his bag as if looking for a weapon. Florendo fired two shots, staggering Ragos to the ground. Later, the police claimed a loaded .38-caliber revolver was found in his bag. Ragos expired hours later at a hospital.

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To justify the killing, self-defense was raised by Florendo and his superiors saying that the shooting was a “judgment call.” Essentially, however, self-defense is difficult to sustain. It shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to the accused. Having admitted authorship of the crime, the accused must prove his innocence and the prosecution is spared the duty of establishing his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

To sustain self-defense, the Revised Penal Code requires “the following to concur: First. Unlawful aggression; Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it; Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.”

To stress, these elements must “concur,” meaning that all three must be proven by clear and convincing evidence; the absence of any would negate self-defense and inevitably lead to conviction.

Moreover, the facts must be proven according to the rules of evidence. Other than matters under judicial notice, judges are not bound by what they see on TV, hear over radio, read in newspapers, and imbibe from social media. Not even by their private and personal perception, bias, or belief.

Courts are bound only by the testimonies of cross-examined witnesses and by duly-authenticated and court-admitted documents (including video and audio recordings).

With the foregoing caveat, let us discuss briefly the three elements of self-defense. The first is very important; the aggression or assault by the victim must, according to jurisprudence, be “real, actual, sudden, immediate and imminent,” not imagined, supposed, speculated, or far-fetched. The victim’s aggression, if any, must also be “illegal,” and not made to defend another person.

On the second, the word “reasonable” qualifies both “necessity” and “means.” Hence, the questions would be: Was it “necessary” for Florendo to fire two shots? Was it “necessary” to fire at all given that Ragos was unarmed at the time he was shot? Was the firearm a reasonable “means,” given that Florendo and his four co-policemen enjoyed numerical superiority and could have subdued Ragos physically without any firearm?

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On the third, did the accosting of Ragos constitute “sufficient provocation” for the latter to engage in “unlawful aggression,” if any? In enforcing the ECQ, did the policemen “sufficiently provoke” Ragos into aggression?

Congratulations to the 13 scholars of the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity (FLP) and Tan Yan Kee Foundation for hurdling the last bar exam, led by Kenneth Glenn Manuel (UST), 6th place, and Jun Dexter Rojas (PUP), 9th place. The two toppers will be granted P100,000 each in addition to the yearly P200,000 scholarships they already received, divided into P100,000 for tuition, P20,000 for books and P80,000 in stipends.

The other FLP passers were Leo Francis Abot (ADMU), John Anthony Almerino (USC), Micah Celine Carpio (DLSU), Arvin Paolo Cortez (ADMU), Mikael Gabrielle Ilao (UCordilleras), Alimar Mohammad Malabad (SBU Manila), King Anthony Perez (UCebu), and Ma. Vida Malaya Villarico (PUP). Three FLP scholars during their third year, Dion Caesar Pascua (SBU Manila), Tess Marie Tan (USC), and Julienne Therese Salvacion (SBU Manila) also passed.

FLP’s first batch of scholars in 2018 also passed 100 percent, led by Sean James Borja (ADMU), 1st place, and Katrina Gaw (ADMU), 5th place.

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TAGS: artemio v. panganiban, Coronavirus Pandemic, coronavirus philippines, Daniel Florendo Jr., Luzon quarantine, Winston Ragos, With Due Respect
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