Reporter decries alleged police harassment

CMFR/ Philippines – The Olongapo City police director allegedly attacked and barred a reporter from covering a hostage-taking incident last 3 April 2012. But the police director denied the accusation. Olongapo City is 79 kilometers west of Manila.

Mahatma Randy Datu, correspondent of Pilipino Star Ngayon (Filipino Star Today), claimed that Olongapo City Police Office director Senior Supt. Christopher Tambungan shouted at him and prevented him from covering a hostage-taking incident that lasted for more than 12 hours at a two-storey house in Olongapo City.

Datu told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) last 10 April 2012 that another police officer asked him and four other reporters to enter the compound where the hostage-taking last 3 April 2012 began at around 10:30 p.m. The hostage-taker allegedly wanted to speak to members of the press, the police officer told reporters. While Datu and the other reporters were listening to the police officer about the rescue plan, Police Director Tambungan allegedly started shouting at Datu and questioned why he was there.

According to Datu, Tambungan grabbed and dragged him out of the compound after saying that “Hindi ka kailangan dito. Lumabas ka dito! (You are not needed here. Get out!)”. At the compound’s gate, Datu claimed that Tambungan pushed him so hard he nearly fell.

Jeff Gallos, reporter of dzMM, confirmed with CMFR that Tambungan had indeed shouted at and forced Datu out of the compound.

Tambungan told CMFR last 12 April 2012 that Datu and Gallos’ allegation was not true. The police director claimed that Datu was always criticizing him in his reports and his allegation was just another slander. Tambungan said that he is considering filing a libel complaint against the reporter.

Datu said that he is himself planning to file an administrative complaint against Tambungan as he felt humiliated and belittled because aside from his fellow reporters, a lot of police officers and residents also saw what happened. The reporter said Tambungan violated his right as a journalist to cover the incident.

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