EPD’s top cop relieved for hitting policewoman | Inquirer News

EPD’s top cop relieved for hitting policewoman

Two other complaints for manhandling pending vs Tambungan, says PNP chief

CAUGHT ON CAMERAA screengrab of the video taken by a security camera shows the former EPD chief, Police Brig. Gen. Christopher Tambungan (seated inside the vehicle), hitting the complainant with the car door.

More than three months after his appointment, the highest ranking official of the Eastern Police District (EPD) has been temporarily relieved for hitting and hurling verbal abuse at a policewoman.

In a statement on Wednesday night, Police Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director, called the behavior of Police Brig. Gen. Christopher Tambungan, the EPD chief, “unjustified and completely unbecoming of an officer of the [Philippine National Police].”


In a complaint, Police Cpl. April Santiago, a member of the San Juan Police Community Precinct 1 in Greenhills, said that around 7 p.m. on May 12, Tambungan got mad at her “because she couldn’t help him in a task given to her.”


Lost his cool

The EPD has jurisdiction over policemen in the cities of Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan and Marikina.

According to Santiago, Tambungan lost his cool after she failed to provide him with another police vehicle to use for an event. At that time, most of the police cars had already been deployed in connection with the midterm elections the following day.

Eleazar said that Tambungan was in a police vehicle and talking to the policewoman outside the station when “for no justifiable reason at all … [he] physically assaulted [Santiago], hitting her on the head and later swinging his car door to hit her while hurling verbal abuse at her.”

Caught on camera

The incident was caught on video by the precinct’s closed-circuit television camera.


Eleazar said he learned of the incident only on Tuesday because Santiago had hesitated to file a complaint for fear that “she might be the one to get reprimanded.”

“I [conducted] a partial investigation of the matter and based on this, I have come to believe [her] allegations. The physical actuations of [Tambungan], including his alleged verbal abuse [of] his victim are unjustified and completely unbecoming of an officer,” he added.

At the sidelines of an arms expo in Mandaluyong City on Thursday, Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, the PNP chief, said that Tambungan was only relieved administratively to pave the way for an impartial investigation.

“But if we find solid evidence to charge him, then his relief will be permanent,” he stressed, adding that two other people had filed complaints in the Office of the Ombudsman, accusing Tambungan of manhandling them.

“Apparently, [Santiago’s case is] not the only incident. I learned that there are two other complaints against [Tambungan] in the Ombudsman where the same thing happened. He wasn’t able to control his anger and manhandled the two,” Albayalde said although he did not give additional details.

While clarifying that all the complaints were still under investigation, the PNP chief stressed that “we cannot just hurt police personnel, men or women. There are several ways to act if an officer commits an offense. We can charge them administratively. We don’t have to manhandle them.”

Tambungan (right) was appointed EPD chief on March 7. —PHOTOS COURTESY OF NCRPO AND EPD

Strict, disciplinarian

He added that Tambungan had a reputation for being a “very strict person” and a disciplinarian as the former director of the Olongapo City police and Manila Police District.

Albayalde said that Tambungan’s penalty would depend on the gravity of his offense and the PNP Internal Affairs Service hearing officer’s appreciation of the case.

The EPD chief is set to retire in December.

Eleazar, meanwhile, called on the policewoman to file a complaint against Tambungan  as he assured her that PNP lawyers would help her.

“Being a commander is not a ticket to abuse or humiliate your men and women. That is not leadership but simply bullying,” he said.

Warning to other officers

“Let this be a warning to all police officials, even if you’re a police general. Just like your lower ranked police officers, you get the axe if it is proven that you’ve committed a wrongdoing,” Eleazar added.

Following his administrative relief, Tambungan was transferred to the NCRPO director’s office on Wednesday.

“Whether or not he returns to his post will depend on the results of the investigation. But from the evidence we have, he can’t be off the hook,” Eleazar said.

Police Col. Florendo Quibuyen, the EPD’s deputy director for administration, was appointed officer in charge.

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Tambungan became EPD director on March 7, succeeding Police Brig. Gen. Bernabe Balba, who was relieved after members of the police district’s antidrugs unit were arrested for robbery-extortion. —WITH A REPORT FROM AIZAM UMAL

TAGS: EPD, verbal abuse

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