The Bigger Picture in the MMDA Assault (part 1)

Looking East - By Carlo Osi

Posted at Sep 05 2012 09:23 PM | Updated as of Sep 06 2012 06:24 AM

WASHINGTON DC, United States – When I was driving in the streets of Metro Manila, there have been countless of times when I wanted to confront, accost and question some of those MMDA traffic officers for their corruption and utter incompetence. Some of them are ill-informed and use their positions for abuse. But I never actually berated, cursed or collared an MMDA officer, threatened him, spat on his face or slapped him. No matter his offense, that is unethical and un-Christian. So when the MMDA Assaulter in bright purple did all these, it made him look like an angry, spoiled and ultra-abusive Volvo-driving rich guy who thought he won’t get caught.

But he was caught in a very big and humiliating way. He was caught red-handed by a camera.

Road Rage?

Was it merely road rage that caused the MMDA Assaulter, Robert Blair Carabuena, to tip over on August 11, 2012? It was most likely something primal in him that made him blow his overweight top. Such rage was unusual even in a heated traffic altercation context.

You’ve probably watched his YouTube videos and immediately hear him say to the MMDA officer, “Ano, lalaban ka?!” (you dare fight me?). That is clear bullying. He removed his baseball cap and used it to repeatedly hit the MMDA traffic officer. He is also seen slapping the officer, endlessly shouting curses and moving forward in a very aggressive and intimidating manner.

The Bigger Picture

This issue has been discussed in the last couple of weeks. Many, many were angry. And understandably so. The video was so offensive that anyone would have seen how wrong the MMDA Assaulter’s actions were. Beyond the insults, anger and condemnation, there is a bigger picture to this. Certain things need to be learnt and reformed in the wake of this MMDA Assault.

For motorists and public utility drivers:

1. Do not beat red lights and follow all the traffic rules.
2. The joke that green means go, yellow means go faster, and red is only a suggestion is nothing more than that – just a joke. Better keep it that way so everyone is safe.
3. Respect traffic enforcers and the police.
4. Do not try to evade traffic enforcers who flag you down.
5. Keep your cool at all times and at all places.
6. Do not look down on people working the streets.
7. Keep in mind that losing cool and assaulting a traffic enforcer means criminal charges and jail time.
8. Hindi lahat ng gusot pwedeng aregluhin. Hindi lahat ng gusot dapat aregluhin.
9. Your expensive Volvo (or BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Jaguar, Porsche, Range Rover, Lexus, Honda or Toyota) is not an excuse to be arrogant and condescending.
10. Your jeepney or public utility bus is not an excuse to dangerously commit traffic violations. 11. You are not the King of the Road; no one is.
12. Humility at all stages in life and at all levels of financial ability is very Christian.
13. Do not bring a firearm in your vehicle as you may act “braver” and more foolishly than if you left it at home or never owned one at all.
14. You may be spoofed by the TV comedy Banana Split if you act like an out-of-control purple animal employed by Philip Morris when being apprehended.

For MMDA and its traffic enforcers:

1. Traffic enforcers need to be trained well, including good behavior and ethics.
2. They should be at least college graduates or have completed some college units.
3. They should be trained to curtail the temptation to engage in street corruption (“lagay” or “kotong”).
4. They should be paid well and have good benefits.
5. MMDA should invest well in its people.
6. All traffic enforcers should be compelled to attend Training sessions every few months.
7. Hindi dapat masindak o magpasindak ang mga traffic enforcers sa mga traffic violators na pulis, huwes, abugado, pulitiko, duktor, inhinyero, aktor, mayaman, naka magarang kotse o negosyante. Hulihin ang dapat hulihin. Hindi dapat palusutin ang mga taong lumalabag sa batas at inaabot o ipinapakita ang kanilang “IBP card”, law firm o business calling card, stethoscope, police badge, military insignia o iba pa para lang makalusot.
8. The practice of confiscating driver’s licenses should end as the hassle and red tape of getting them back is a pathway for corruption.
9. Traffic violations should be linked to an increase in vehicle insurance premiums as that will serve as an effective deterrent.
10. MMDA enforcers should never be armed.
11. MMDA enforcers should know and specify what regulation was violated by the driver, write it down on the ticket, and explain it well.
12. If little reform is done, the MMDA and its enforcers risk the same type of abusive encounter over and over again.

HR Manager from Hell

That’s the big picture. Let’s now look at the smaller, more specific picture. The MMDA Assaulter Carabuena originally stated on his LinkedIn profile that he is an experienced Human Resources Manager at Philip Morris International (now it says “Supervisor Resourcing” at the same company) and that he is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University. He took up Social Sciences majoring in Psychology at the Ateneo. Psychology – really? What a disgrace. I’m even very surprised that 60 of my own LinkedIn connections are connected with him.

From a reputable company and a very reputable university, and yet the end result is something very sad. I don’t think he got such ill-temper and incredibly bad manners from Philip Morris or the Ateneo. He got it because of his rich upbringing or perhaps he is just one lousy brat.

His ill-temper may also be the result of carrying a firearm which makes the wimp braver and the pushover daring.

If he is a human resources manager, he is presumed to be a good judge of people’s character. It seems that he is not good at this because how can he be a good judge of other people when he himself behaves in the extreme. He won’t know who is good because of his clouded judgment.

The violence and intimidation that occurred in a very short period of time cannot be justified. It’s a sudden and inexplicable rage that engulfed the MMDA Assaulter Carabuena. It’s as if he had some very old, very bad grudge against the MMDA officer. But this is the first time they met.

Even Malacanang Palace thinks Carabuena is arrogant and his acts unacceptable.

Carabuena’s Rage and Fabros’ Poise

Things could have easily gone way out of hand in that road rage encounter. The MMDA traffic enforcer, Saturnino “Sonny” Fabros, could have struck back, a brawl could have broken out, and either of them may have ended up bloody. Somebody could have even pulled out a gun.

Instead, Fabros chose to turn the other cheek and walk away.

In the meantime, the MMDA Assaulter got all riled up, his blood pressure skyrocketed, and spewed insult after insult. He does not give the traffic enforcer an opportunity to explain. He did not care for any explanation. He just wanted to attack and attack, by word and by hand.

He also had his brother, the man in black, to act as his “restback” while he gutlessly assaulted. He did not even care that his father, reportedly, was in the background. Totally depraved.

One man lost all self-control in a snap. The other kept his cool and was very poised in the face of fuming assault, bullying, antagonism, blitzkrieg curses, slapping and extreme criticism.

One man’s rage is spoofed by the TV comedy Banana Split. The other is praised, promoted, financially assisted, house repair-assisted and congratulated. Rage versus poise.

(To be continued)

This column’s author, Carlo Osi, is a lawyer & writer based in Washington, D.C. and was educated by Georgetown University Law Center, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the Wharton School of Business, Kyushu University, and U.P.

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