Questions on hiring emerge as SC terminates gun-toting ex-cop in road rage video

August 31, 2023 - 7:17 PM
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Wilfredo Gonzales
Retired policeman Willie Gonzales is seen in images taken from video drawing a gun on a cyclist and striking him on the head during a traffic altercation near the Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City on August 8; Lower right photo shows Gonzales and Quezon City Police District chief Brig. Gen. Nicolas Torre III holding a press conference at Camp Karingal, with the pistol Gonzales used in the incident in the foreground. (The STAR/Michael Varcas)

Questions surfaced after online Filipino discovered that the dismissed, gun-toting cop in the viral road rage incident was an employee of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

Wilfredo Gonzales, aged 63, gained widespread attention in mainstream news when a video depicting him brandishing his handgun at an unidentified cyclist in a bike lane circulated online.

Reports said the incident happened near Welcome Rotonda at the boundary of the City of Manila and Quezon City on August 8.

By August 27, Gonzales surrendered to the police. He also held a press conference reportedly organized by the office of Quezon City Police District chief Brigadier General Nicolas Torre III, where the former cop blamed social media for depicting him as a bad person.

Torre resigned from his post on Wednesday, August 30, amid criticism after allowing the suspect to have a presscon, citing that it was a way to give journalists an opportunity to talk to Gonzales.

Meanwhile, Gonzales’ surrender last Sunday came hours after lawyer and avid cyclist Raymond Fortun shared a video showing the incident which was uploaded by Facebook user Mr. BI Vlogs.

A different video from another angle was also recently posted by Fortun.

“Binatukan, kinasahan ng baril, sinapak ang kanang balikat, kinaladkad ang bike,” the lawyer wrote on Facebook on Wednesday, August 30.

The video showed Gonzales’ car cutting off the cyclist despite the latter being on the bike lane.

The Quezon City Police District has filed an alarms and scandals complaint against Gonzales.

The Philippine National Police also said its Firearms and Explosives Office has revoked the dismissed cop’s license to own and possess firearms. Moreover, it has confiscated three more guns in Gonzales’ possession.

The Land Transportation Office has likewise placed his license on a 90-day preventive suspension.

Meanwhile, lawmakers from the Senate and House of Representatives filed separate resolutions directing the appropriate committee to conduct a hearing in aid of legislation on the incident.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte also urged the cyclist to come forward so that Gonzales, whom she regards as a “menace to society,” would be held accountable for his actions.

The city chief likewise said they would extend legal assistance to the biker and put him and his family “in our protection.”

The city government said that if the biker decides to come forward, the city is looking into filing possible complaints such as grave threat, slander by deed, reckless imprudence, physical injuries, violations of Republic Act 10591 or absence of a license to own and possess a firearm; absence of permit to carry.

RELATED: ‘Mariing kinokondena’: How QC gov’t responded to gun-toting driver in road rage incident

Supreme Court enters picture 

On the same day of Gonzales’ surrender and presscon, the Office of Associate Justice Ricardo Rosario also “immediately terminated” his employment “upon discovery of the incident.”

“Justice Rosario does not condone any form of violence or abusive behavior,” the Supreme Court said in a statement released on August 30, three days after the dismissal.

The statement raised the eyebrows of some Pinoys who pointed out why the high court would employ an individual like Gonzales in the first place.

“So a Supreme Court justice thought it was okay to hire a dishonorably dismissed policeman??? THAT’S WORSE,” an online user on the X (formerly Twitter) platform wrote in response to the statement.

“Pakitanong si Justice anong background check ang ginawa niya. Paulit-ulit nakasuhan, na-demote sa pinakamababang rank, na-dismiss,” another user commented.

“Paano siya naging qualified? Hindi nag-conduct ng Background Check [or] Verification [ang] SC for employment?” questioned another Pinoy, referring to the Supreme Court.

“If Wilfredo Gonzales who was fired for taking bribes can be employed in the Supreme Court, what is the point of NBI Clearance? Why do the rest of us need to get one whenever we apply for a job?” a different user asked.

An NBI clearance is a document issued by the National Bureau of Investigation to prove that an individual is not involved in any criminal activity in the country.

Reports said that Gonzales is a former cop who served the national police for over 20 years. He was a police at the Quezon City Police District.

According to PNP spokesperson Police Colonel Jean Fajardo, he had an administrative case involving grave misconduct in 2006.

He reached the mandatory retirement age of 56 in 2016 as stipulated by the PNP, but it was not until 2017 that the case was finally resolved.

A motion for reconsideration was junked the year after.

Gonzales was also found to have been demoted several times and left the service as a Police Officer I (PO1), the lowest rank in the PNP structure.

He was meted with 120-day and 90-day suspensions, but reports said these were not implemented.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has yet to provide more details about Gonzales’ employment history following the immediate dismissal.