(UPDATE) It was a case of road rage, but now the rage has gone online.
Netizens continue to slam a Metro Manila motorist who was caught on video assaulting a traffic enforcer at Tandang Sora in Quezon City Saturday.
The video, which spread like wildfire on social media networks late Tuesday, and was first posted in Interaskyon.com, showed the motorist now identified as Robert Blair Carabuena mauling Saturnino Fabros, a traffic enforcer of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
Carabuena is an executive of multinational tobacco company Philip Morris. In a statement, cigarette maker Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) confirmed that Carabuena is its employee.
"While the complete facts surrounding the incident are not yet clear to make a full appreciation of the situation, the company would obviously not condone inappropriate conduct by any of our employees," PMFTC said. It added that it will closely monitor investigations that have been launched on the incident.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the TV 5 network, which also exclusively caught the video of the incident by chance, Fabros on Wednesday said it was the first time he experienced such treatment from a motorist. He's been as a traffic enforcer for 30 years now.
"Para akong mapapaiyak nun pero pinigilan ko lang. Napahiya po ako (I had to stop myself from crying even if I was humiliated)," Fabros said.
He added that he only called Carabuena's attention for a wrong turn at the corner of Capitol Hills Drive and Tandang Sora.
MMDA Legal and Legislative Affairs staff have confirmed that a case is being drafted against Carabuena and will be filed at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Wednesday.
In a separate statement, MMDA's Francis Tolentino defended the MMDA traffic enforcer.
“We cannot allow this aggression and shameless attack against our men who are only doing their job as best as they can, regardless of the risks they face in the streets every day,” Tolentino said, as he demanded a public apology from Carabuena.
Under the Revised Penal Code, direct assault can be filed against any person who shall attack, employ force, or seriously intimidate any person in authority while in the performance of official duties. It is punishable by a prison term of six months to six years.
Malacañang said the social media outburst was a show of "public engangement."
"We commend our vigilant citizens who actively seek accountability from individuals in both the public and private sectors," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.
He added that such campaigns link individuals through social and traditional media to improve "efforts to achieve social change, by bringing to light any possible wrongdoing."
"Public engagement is the bedrock of democracy. It is at its most potent and powerful when the constant scrutiny of the citizenry serves as a deterrent to the illicit and unlawful," Lacierda said.
"Dear Robert 'Blair' Carabuena, mabilaukan ka sana sa ginawa mong pang-mamaltrato sa MMDA. Justice for MMDA officers!" Gerald Santos said via Twitter.
For her part, Twitter user Kristine said: "One of the reasons why Pinas is not improving is because of some people who think highly of themselves."
"I don't want to imagine what could've happened if this Blair Carabuena had a gun in his car," Jong D.G. tweeted.
Some netizens, meanwhile, urged Filipinos to reflect on the public's treatment of government employees.
"We may have a lot of things against the government but it does not warrant us to act like arrogant douche bags," Vincent Benjamin said via Twitter.
Pau Rosales tweeted: "They (MMDA officers) work rain or shine to make sure our traffic situation is somehow bearable, must we abuse them? They are also humans."
Carabuena allegedly deleted his social networking accounts amid the flood of negative comments, prompting further outburst of emotions.
"Ang tapang mo sa kalye pero ngayon, tago ng tago from social media (You were arrogant in the street yet you now hide from social media)," Myra Santiago said via Twitter.
See the video here: