MANILA, Philippines – After barely 7 years in the military, Corporal Winston Ragos lived the rest of his life in the throes of the battles he fought, and after police bullets killed him last Tuesday, April 21, the Philippine Army said it would give him a hero’s burial.
Ragos will be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on Sunday, April 26 at 12 pm, the Army said in a statement on Saturday, April 25.
Ragos’ body was taken from St Eldredge Funeral Homes in Quezon City on Friday night, April 24, and brought to the mortuary of the Libingan ng mga Bayani at 12:15 am on Saturday.
Army troops rendered military honors to Ragos as his casket, draped with the national flag, was carried into the chapel.
Ragos’ mother Merlyn was present. The Army said it coordinated with her for funeral and burial arrangements, and it would cover all expenses and any assistance the family would need.
Other private donors have extended assistance to the bereaved family, the Army said.
Ragos was sipping soda and smoking a cigarette outside his family’s home in Barangay Pasong Putik, Quezon City, last Tuesday when several policemen accosted him for supposedly violating lockdown rules.
His back turned to the cops, Ragos raised his hands in surrender, but police Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo Jr insisted he drop to the ground. Ragos would not comply, angering the cops. Bystanders insisted he was mentally infirm, and they should let him be.
Then Ragos turned to face the cops, and reached into a pouch he was carrying. Florendo shot him twice. Ragos died at a hospital hours later. He was 33 years old.
Police said they found a gun in Ragos’ pouch but his relatives insisted it was nothing but a water bottle.
The Quezon City Police District on Friday filed a homicide complaint against Florendo, but some top police officers defended him, saying he made a “judgement call” in self-defense.
The NBI said it was already investigating Ragos’ case.
Photo from the Philippine Army
Ragos joined the Army in March 2010 and was assigned to the 31st Infantry Battalion under the 9th Infantry Division in Camarines Sur.
His detachment faced heavy attacks from the communist-led New People’s Army, and at one point guerrillas “nearly subdued” the battalion. The Armed Forces of the Philippines in an official statement said this experience may have triggered the onset of Ragos’ post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Ragos struggled with PTSD ever since, and he was honorably discharged from the service for his disability in January 2017.
His case has prompted the Army to review its programs for soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress, and said it would seek out former soldiers battling trauma, to help them.
“We condole with the family of the late Corporal Ragos; he has suffered enough from the challenges of PTSD caused by the invisible wounds of war. Our priority right now is to take care of his family, ensuring they have all the resources they need during this critical time. The Philippine Army honors Ragos for his service and sacrifice that defines us as an Army,” said Army chief Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay in a statement on Saturday. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.