MANILA, Philippines – Who threw the first punch between Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo and the group of Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto?
That question may have to be answered by eyewitness accounts after the Ninoy Aquino International Airport management said there was no closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of how the fight started Sunday.
NAIA General Manager Angel Honrado said the brawl on Sunday afternoon occurred at the baggage conveyor area, which is not covered by airport CCTV cameras.
"Unfortunately, 'yung video dun sa baggage conveyor is part of the system na kailangan i-operationalize natin. Yung CCTV system namin is working dun sa arrival area pero out pa dun sa conveyor area," he told radio dzMM.
He said the airport management is now conducting its own investigation of the brawl, starting with all on-duty policemen and security guards.
"Alam po ninyo, pinapahanap ko lahat ang duty dun.Tatlo ang airport police, lima ang security guards, both ng mga airport at airlines ang nagtulong-tulong dun. I just have to require our security providers to increase their training," he said.
Tulfo and several of Santiago’s companions got into a fight at the NAIA Terminal 3 after Tulfo started taking pictures of Barretto allegedly berating an airline staff after their luggage was left at Caticlan airport.
‘Barretto cursed Cebu Pacific staff’
In a separate DZMM interview, Tulfo claimed the mauling started when he was caught by Santiago taking photos of Barretto allegedly cursing a ground stewardess of Cebu Pacific after her luggage was left at Caticlan Airport.
“May nakita ako na mala-matrona na magandang mukha, na pinagagalitan yung ground stewardness ng cebu pacific. Nung naging personal na siya sa pobreng babae, minumura na niya. Sabi ko iba na ito, ginagamit na yung kanyang pagiging influential. Kaya’t kinunan ko ng photos, merong lalaki na sumita sa akin at sinabi: ‘bakit mo kinukunan kami?”
Tulfo said it was then that Santiago started punching him. He, however, claimed he did not know the entire time that it was the Santiago couple who were mauling him.
“Nung dinala ako ng police sa estasyon, ang tanong sa akin ‘di mo ba kilala iyung mga yun? ‘sabi ko ‘hindi eh, sino ba sila?’” he said.
‘Tulfo attacked first’
Santiago, however, claimed it was Tulfo who started the fight after attacking him and his wife, Claudine.
The actor admitted approaching Tulfo and asking why he was taking a video of Claudine while they were sorting out a snafu about their missing luggage.
“Sabi ko 'sir ano po ang ginagawa niyo.' Hindi ko nga siya kilala tapos ngumingisi siya na parang taong aso na parang may tinatago. Bigla na lang po niya akong sinuntok at sinipa ako sa groin area dito ako tinamaan sa may hita. So doon po nagkagulo. Siya po ang nag-provoke siya po ang nauna. Hindi ko naman gagawin yon na ako ang una na ginrab ko ang camera niya. Hindi po totoo yon,” he told radio dzMM.
He said the fight would have ended there when his wife, Claudine, asked Tulfo why he attacked Santiago.
“Nagkaawatan na, medyo nagawat-awat na ewan ko parang nagpahinga siya. Tapos biglang naga-amok amok siya doon sa gitna. Tapos hindi ko alam yung martial arts niya, naggaganoon siya. Tapos yun po si Claudine lumapit sa kanya 'sir bakit nyo po sinuntok at sinipa ang asawa ko?' tapos ngumisi na naman siya yung tawang aso yung parang nang-iinis. Biglang sinipa niya si Claudine," Santiago said.
The actor said an amateur video on YouTube does not show who threw the first punch in his brawl against Tulfo.
"Actually yung footage na yan that was after na kinuha niya si Claudine kaya diyan po nag-init ang ulo ko diyan. That was after the incident na tinulak niya si Claudine at sinipa niya. So natural lang sa isang asawa na protektahan ang pamilya niya, yun lang ang akin. Nasa peligro na ang asawa mo kung hindi ko ginawa yon ako ang lalabas na kahiya hiya na hindi ko kayang protektahan ang asawa ko," he said.
YouTube video as evidence
Tulfo said he is thankful for whoever uploaded the video, which he said proved that he was beaten up by Santiago’s group. He said he might use the amateur video as his evidence against the couple.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa kanya kung sino man siya. Tinatanaw ko itong malaking utang na loob sa kanya habang ako’y nabubuhay,’ he said.
The columnist added Santiago’s and Barretto’s behavior that day was far from the roles they had portrayed on screen.
“Yung mga pino-portray ninyo na magandang pagkatao sa harap ng camera, taliwas sa gnagawa niyo sa labas. Minumura niyo yung malilit na tao,” he said.
NAIA to Tulfo: Be nice
The airport GM, meanwhile, defended his men from Tulfo’s allegations that they were “inutile and useless” during the brawl.
"I am not trying to justify yung mga tao ko, baka nagkaroon ng lapse o pagkukulang dun pero siguro maraming instances na siguro dahil sa bugso ng init ng ulo, talagang it's bound to happen,” Honrado said.
He added: “Our people were out there to pacify and make sure that no additional injury will take effect. Will try to make any correction.”
Tulfo earlier said airport security were "inutile and useless" and even helped the Santiago couple during the brawl by holding him down.
"Alam mo diyan ko nakita 'yung pagka-useless, pagiging inutil ng mga pulis, ng mga security guards. May mga pulis doon, may airport pulis doon hindi PNP. Wala silang nagawa nanood lang. Wala silang nagawa," he told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.
Tulfo stressed that if only the airport police and security guards did their job, he would not have been mauled.
"Kaya ako nagapi dahil I submitted myself to the authority. Dahil nandoon sila may unipormadong mga kalalakihan na ay matitigil na yung gulo at hindi na ako pagtutulungan, nagkamali ako. I put my guard down," he said.
Honrado, however, chastised Tulfo for insulting airport security.
"I think we have to be on the better stand. Avoid po natin ang masasagwang mga salita para hindi nasasaktan yung ibang tao, lalo na yung hindi kasama sa away," he said.