Merlyn Ragos: Her son was shot as a quarantine violator

Rambo Talabong

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Merlyn Ragos: Her son was shot as a quarantine violator
Faces of 2020: The mother of slain ex-soldier Winston Ragos soldiers on in her fight for justice

This story is part of Faces of 2020, a series of profiles about people whose stories of loss and survival embody the year 2020.

Under a broken justice system, fleeting outrage can only do so much. Such is the story lived and learned by 57-year-old Merlyn Ragos.

Many already know of the demise of her son Winston at the hands of the police on April 21 – the most graphic fatality during the early lockdowns in Duterte’s Philippines.

Videos played his death over and over. The calm as he held up his arms in surrender. The panic possessing the policeman as he kept his distance. The tension that snapped as Winston reached for his weathered shoulder bag. The pop of the gun that took him down. The screams.

Like other rare killings elevated by footage, Winston’s lit a flame. It consumed the public to bring crushing condemnation upon the police. The military, discovering that Winston had been one of their own, launched its own probe. The Army took Merlyn under its protection and gave Winston a hero’s burial.

It seemed justice was at hand. Yet, 7 months later when the rage had faded, it remains out of Merlyn’s sight.

Ano ba ang dapat gawin? Kasi ilang months na. Minsan sa gabi hindi ako makatulog kakaisip kung ano ba ang dapat gawin. Bakit ganoon? Ang daming katanungan, bakit ganito?” she said, speaking with Rappler in a phone interview on Tuesday, December 8.

(What should I do? It’s been months. Sometimes at night I could not sleep thinking of what I should do. Why is it this way? There are so many questions. Why is it this way?)

Endless waiting

Merlyn and the National Bureau of Investigation filed a complaint with the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office. She gave her testimony and all of Winston’s identifying documents asked of her.

She was told to wait and she waited. She grew tired, and stormed the Hall of Justice herself, hoping, through the protest of one, to will the case forward.

“‘Yung guard lang ang nakakausap ko (I have been able to speak with the guard only),” she said, defeated.

It was a battle that she fought alone. She was a single mother. Her children were either occupied working to feed their own families or stuck in their homes to avoid the pandemic.

Struggling amid a pandemic

As she lobbied for the case, Merlyn lived in poverty. She continued to work as a manicurist, visiting the homes of a handful of clients every two weeks for a few hundred pesos to get by.

Walang magagawa kasi kung hindi rin kakain, wala rin. Wala rin namang aasahan (We have no choice because if I do not eat, I will also die. There’s no one to turn to),” she said.

The money the military had given her had all been spent. The local government of Quezon City has not reached out to her. The Commission on Human Rights, she said, was waiting for the case to reach court before they could help her. The people who spoke out for her in April had turned to other things to speak about.

Merlyn thought of giving up. But then, she remembered Winston.

Hindi ko matanggap na ganun-ganun na lang. Na-i-imagine ko lang kung paano ko siya pinalaki. Kahit na hirap na hirap ako, kahit pinansyal, hirapan ako, patuloy ko itong gagawin.”

(I cannot accept that it would end just like that. I just imagine how I raised him. Even if I am suffering, even if I am financially struggling, I will continue to do this.) –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Clothing, Apparel, Person


Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.