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Crimes that shocked Filipinos amid COVID-19 pandemic in 2020


Many Filipinos were caught flat-footed when the government imposed community lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19 starting in March.

While the quarantines caused a decrease in crimes over the past months, these failed to stop heinous incidents.

Some of the crimes that caught the public's attention this year involved law enforcers.

Let's take a look at some of them:

Ex-soldier shot and killed near quarantine checkpoint

Retired Army Corporal Winston Ragos was gunned down by Police Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo, a cop manning a community quarantine checkpoint in Barangay Pasong Putik in Fairview, Quezon City in April.

Florendo and his company told Ragos to go home but the latter allegedly ignored them and supposedly attempted to pull out a weapon, prompting Florendo to shoot him.

In contrast to the police's claim that they found a caliber .38 revolver inside the former soldier's bag, Ragos' relatives insisted that he was unarmed when the incident happened.

His relatives and even the Philippine Army also confirmed that he had issues after figuring in clashes when he was still in active service.

The incident prompted the military to also strengthen their efforts in protecting the mental health of government troops.

In June, the NBI slapped Florendo with a murder complaint before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office.

Army troops gunned down by cops in Jolo

Intelligence officers of the Philippine Army were tracking suicide bombers when they were flagged down by personnel of the Jolo Municipal Police Station on June 29.

The soldiers were instructed by the cops to go to the police station for further verification of their identities despite identifying themselves as military men.

According to a police report, the shooting incident happened when the four soldiers allegedly escaped and pointed their weapons at the police officers.

Armed Forces chief General Gilbert Gapay, then commander of the Philippine Army, doubted the report, saying that it was full of inconsistencies and lies. He branded the incident as murder and not a misencounter, which the police had earlier claimed.

The nine Jolo cops involved in the incident were sent to Metro Manila and were placed under the restrictive custody of the Philippine National Police.

The NBI filed four counts of murder and planting of evidence against the cops involved. Moreover, it recommended the filing of neglect of duty against three local police officers.

On the other hand, the PNP's IAS, in September, lodged administrative and criminal complaints against the nine policemen.

According to IAS chief Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo, the nine police officers have already been recommended to be dismissed from police service.

There is no update yet from the Department of Justice regarding the cases against the Jolo policemen.

Jang Lucero brutal slay in Laguna

Jang Lucero, who worked as a driver during the pandemic, was found stabbed to death inside her vehicle, hours after she picked up passengers who booked her services to drive them to Metro Manila.

Her body was discovered to have bore 52 stab wounds along Bypass Road in Calamba, Laguna on June 28.

On July 29, heavily armed men abducted Lucero's girlfriend Meyah Amatorio, together with her nephew Adrian Ramos, from their house in Bay town.

Amatorio's former girlfriend, Annshiela Belarmino, was initially made the subject of a complaint for Lucero's murder but the rap against her was dismissed by the prosecutor due to lack of evidence.

Amatorio was also linked to the murder of her girlfriend, but she had denied any involvement in the crime.

There is no update yet from the National Bureau of Investigation regarding the case.

Death of peace consultant Randall "Ka Randy" Echanis

Peasant group Anakpawis broke the news about the death of its chairperson Randall Echanis on August 10. His body, with 15 wounds and an injury on the head, was found inside a rented apartment in Novaliches, Quezon City.

His neighbor, identified as one Louie Tagapia, was also found lifeless in that same apartment.

Police initially had a different version of the senseless killing. They insisted thatEchanis, also a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, was not among those killed as, based on the identification card they found, the victim was one Manuel Santiago.

Echanis' wife, Erlinda, had already identified that the body found was her husband. Her representatives, paralegal Paolo Colabres and lawyer Luz Perez, arrived at Pink Petals Funeral Services in La Loma to claim the body.

However, police took back the body as they maintained that they needed proof that will show that it was indeed the peasant leader.

Days after, the Quezon City Police District finally acknowledged that the body was indeed Echanis after a fingerprint test had confirmed the identity.

The autopsy conducted on Echanis' body indicated that he was tortured and that plain robbery was not the sole motive of the murder.

Echanis' death was deeply condemned by militant and leftist organizations as they claimed that since then, the government has been running after NDFP consultants, resulting in some “illegal arrests.”

There is no update yet from the AO 35 task force on extrajudicial killings (EJK) regarding its probe on the slay.

Cop kills mother and son in Tarlac

The latest shooting incident that killed mother and son Sonya and Frank Anthony Gregorio in Paniqui, Tarlac, sparked public outrage against abuse of power committed by men in uniform.

On December 20, the unarmed victims had a heated argument with Police Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca, a cop assigned at the Parañaque City Police's crime laboratory.

The confrontation ended tragically when the police officer gunned down the Gregorios in broad daylight and in front of residents, including some minors.

Nuezca's daughter also witnessed the incident and even captured it on video using a mobile phone. Before her father shot the victims, she shouted at Sonya, an elderly, by saying, “Just let go. My father is a policeman!”

Nuezca surrendered to authorities. He also handed over the gun used in perpetrating the crime.

The police officer, who was slapped with criminal and administrative cases in the previous years, said he deeply regrets his action. Nuezca appealed to authorities to help his family while he is in jail.

He was indicted for two counts of murder and was detained at the Paniqui Municipal Police Station. In the afternoon of December 28, he was transferred to the jail facility of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in the said town, which is only 30 meters away from the police station.

According to Philippine National Police chief Police General Debold Sinas, the Internal Affairs Service and the National Capital Region Police Office are working together to hasten the dismissal of Nuezca from police service.

Initially, the IAS is looking at 30 days to resolve the administrative case of Nuezca, however, Sinas said authorities are doubling their time for Nuezca to be immediately removed from the police force in less than 30 days. -NB/KBK, GMA News

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