We condemn in highest possible terms, the brutal and senseless killing of retired soldier Winston Ragos. His murder only shows how cruel the Duterte government’s militarist approach is, in this battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. This is what happens when the leader of the state declares on national tv a “shoot them dead” order to his police and military for anyone who will violate quarantine protocols. His foot soldiers blindly follow this order and execute it without compassion.
On Tuesday, April 21, elements of Quezon City Police District killed former Army Corporal Ragos in an incident in Brgy. Pasong Putik after he supposedly “violated” quarantine measures. Ragos was reportedly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after he served the military until 2017.
CCTV footages of the incident is clear that the handling of the QC police was an overkill. The victim posed no real threat to them or to anyone in the area. The witnesses were even heard calling out the police and telling them that Ragos has a mental illness.
The police later claimed that the victim had a gun in his sling bag but his mother, sibling and witnesses dispute this claim, saying that the sling bag only contained a water bottle, IDs and documents proving his mental disability. The police who shot Ragos attempt to justify their inhumane act by reusing their narrative that it was an act of self-defense or they simply claim that the victim fought back (‘nanlaban’).
Our enemy here is the virus. We don’t need guns to fight it. A militarist approach and `martial law–style’ implementation of quarantine does nothing to combat COVID-19. It does not address the growing hunger of the people who have not received the aid promised by the government. Abuse of power and unnecessary use of lethal force only worsens the people’s suffering.
We reiterate our call for a medical solution to this public health emergency – free targeted mass testing, more budget for health services and protection for health workers and other frontliners. Aid must be provided urgently to those whose livelihoods are affected by the lockdown sans bureaucratic procedures.
Despite the threat of COVID-19, we must not waver in holding this government accountable for its abuses and use of ECQ to violate human rights. We will only truly heal as one if this government will put the welfare of the marginalized at the center and treat us with respect and dignity.
Justice for Winston Ragos!