Carabuena: From bully to cyberbullying victim

By Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 23 2012 01:58 PM | Updated as of Aug 24 2012 01:09 AM

MANILA, Philippines -- Robert Blair Carabuena, who admitted his wrongs and issued an apology on Thursday, has been the subject of online attacks since a video of him allegedly abusing a traffic enforcer was broadcast and went viral on the web.

Carabuena had been caught on camera berating and slapping Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) aide Fabros on August 11 after he was pulled over for a traffic violation.

“Pending investigation,” Philip Morris Tobacco Corp. suspended Carabuena, one of its employees, following petitions from various sectors urging the company to fire him.

In a statement, the company said while Carabuena was “not on duty for the company at the time” the incident occurred, “it does no not condone inappropriate conduct by any of our employees.”

The MMDA also said that the direct assault case it has filed against the Philip Morris executive will push through despite his apology, and a preliminary hearing at the Quezon City Prosecutor’s office was scheduled for Thursday.

However, according to initial reports from the MMDA, Carabuena was rushed to the hospital after feeling discomfort because of hurtful comments he received from several people at the fiscal’s office.

Carabuena has not been immune from online “retaliation” either. From issuing taunts of “baboy” (pig) to assertions that he should be killed, netizens have not been kind to Carabuena, leading some to say that the bully is now being cyberbullied.

Flame bait

Incidents of cyberbullying by Filipinos online are not new, with people even intentionally creating what can be termed as “flame bait” to draw the ire from netizens.

One incident was that of “Ahcee Flores”, an identity created by an Internet troll to comment on Yahoo! Philippines. A parallel Flores account was also set up on social networking site Facebook.

Flores wished ill on the victims of an earthquake in Visayas, leading to the creation of pages on the social networking site dedicated to sowing hate against her. Her posts also went viral online.

Even celebrities are not immune. Actress Francine Prieto also received flak for an offhand comment about President Benigno Aquino III being “panot.”

“I deleted my first Twitter account dahil nilabas ko ang saloobin ko sa dami kong problema…ngayon naman sobra na ang mga bastos, mahaba ang pasensya ko 'wag mo lang akong babastusin dahil kaya ko rin maging bastos,” she said to her online haters on Twitter.

As of posting, there are over 40 pages on Facebook dedicated to Carabuena, with names such as “Patayin si Robert Blair Carabuena,” “Like if you want Robert Blair Carabuena to be fired from Philip Morris”, “Ikaw na nga may pinagaralan ikaw pa walang modo, f*** you Robert Carabuena” and “Ilechon si Robert Blair Carabuena,” among others.

“Ipakulong si Robert Blair Carabuena” is currently the top page with 23,216 likes.

There is also now a parody Twitter account for Carabuena -- @RBlairCarabuena. It has only eight followers and 97 tweets as of posting.

Carabuena acknowledged his haters in his apology.

“Nitong nakaraang Linggo, naramdaman ko po ang galit ng publiko sa aking inasal. Simula nang lumabas ang ‘video’ sa media at sa ‘social media,’ minabuti ko pong manatili muna sa aming tahanan,” he said.

Carabuena has since reportedly shut down his social media accounts.

Just desserts?


In a blog entry by Jess Lorenzo on ABS-CBNnews.com, he said that while Carabuena has been the recipient of a “deluge of harassment online…the image that Carabuena put himself in is his own doing.”

“I can only surmise that any cyber harassment is provoked by the bullying that Carabuena dished out to Officer Saturnino Fabros; heightened by their social circumstances,” Lorenzo wrote.

“I believe Carabuena is a typical person who dwells in ENTITLEMENT. This is one of the illnesses of our culture.  It is seen in many of our behaviors and leaders. It even exists in persons who may hate the likes of Blair but may also manifest similar symptoms. They are double standard people who are quick to seek justice but are poor in following the law.”

However, in an interview in 2011, Philippine Human Rights Information Center executive director Dr. Nymia Pimentel Simbulan said that while everyone has a right to the Internet and information, as well as to free speech, netizens also have the responsibility to respect the space and rights of others.

“There are limits,” she said. “Fundamental rights should not be taken as a license to attack the rights or positions of other individuals. Nagiging bastusan na.”