Corporal Santiago’s story gives cops courage to speak up

Published June 26, 2019, 5:40 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Aaron Recuenco

The story of how ‘little David’ Corporal April Santiago was able to boot out a police general from his post has boosted the morale of the low-ranking policemen of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).


Some of the Police Non-Commissioned Officers (from Patrolman to Police Executive Master Sergeant) told the Manila Bulletin that they feel that they now have an outlet of their grievances against some abusive police commanders after NCRPO director Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar ordered the relief and investigation on Brig. Gen. Christopher Tambungan immediately after watching a video footage of the alleged physical and verbal abuse on Corporal Santiago.

“We understand why Corporal Santiago did not file a complaint kase matatakot ka na wala ring mangyayari, pag-iinitan ka lang pag ginawa mo yun,” a policeman who asked for anonymity told the Manila Bulletin.

“Kaya yung karamihan, pinalalampas na lang. Part of the job, charge to experience,” the policeman added.

But Eleazar told the Manila Bulletin that physical abuses of commanders to policemen is not normal and is not being tolerated in the police force. He added that the silence of the victims is a way of tolerating other erring commanders to commit abuses repeatedly.

“Any unjustified physical assault by any officer of the PNP to anybody, especially to a fellow police officer, is unacceptable and demoralizing,” said Eleazar.

The NCRPO chief earlier asked policemen to personally report to him any cases of bullying of commanders on low-ranking policemen, even as he warned police commanders to treat their men with respect.

Tambungan’s actions on Santiago last month was caught in a CCTV in Greenhills, San Juan, wherein it was shown that he was allegedly berating and even hit the policewoman after failing to accomplish the task given to her.

Eleazar said his order to relieve Tambungan as Eastern Police District director, as well as other ranking police officials in the past, is proof that there are no sacred cows in the NCRPO.

Just over a week ago, Eleazar ordered the relief of a Pasig City precinct commander after he discovered that the personnel and people transacting at the precinct were exposed to unsanitary conditions and dirty workplace.

Last March, it was recalled Eleazar sacked Eastern Police District director Brig. Gen. Bernabe Balba and Pasay City police chief Col. Noel Flores after their respective drug units were replaced for involvement in separate extortion cases.

In 2018, Eleazar also sacked 36 members of the Las Piñas Police force drug unit for alleged extortion activities. The chief of the station, Col. Marlon Balonglong, was also relieved due to command responsibility.

Similarly, Eleazar relieved several police officers for various instances of abuse of authority—two cops who were caught on camera purposely damaging the side mirror of a taxicab, a cop who was caught on video slapping a bus driver in Pasay City, and three cops from the Manila Police District (MPD) who were caught for extortion.

But Eleazar was quick to advise low-ranking policemen to stick to their mandate and sworn duty.

“They should act and behave properly and they should also obey and respect their commanders. Kapag nasa tama sila, I will be with them pero kapag sila naman ang mali, they should also expect sanctions,” said Eleazar.

“I hope that this would send a clear message to the public and to everyone in the police force that I will spare no one in cleaning up the Metro Manila police force and in restoring the public’s faith in the police,” he added.