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Q&A on the Robert Carabuena bullying incident according to Top Gear PH

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

InterAksyon.com com is reposting with permission a column written by Vernon B. Sarne, editor-in-chief of Top Gear Philippines with regard to the Robert Carabuena/MMDA enforcer bullying incident, which we think our readers will find interesting.

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Why are people rushing to a conclusion after watching a 26-second video? Does anyone know how the incident really started?

What else do you want to see to conclude that what the assailant did is unconditionally wrong? Are you perhaps visualizing that some 10 seconds before the start of the clip, the MMDA enforcer could be this arrogant bastard harassing his would-be attacker--before completely transforming into the helpless, scared-for-his-life man we see in the video? Even Mike Tyson in his prime didn't have that effect on people.

What if it was MMDA traffic constable Saturnino Fabros who started it all? What if Robert "Blair" Carabuena was merely provoked?

Seriously? You honestly believe this? Okay, for the sake of objectivity, let's say Mang Saturnino got the ball rolling, what horrible thing can you possibly think of that will justify Carabuena's violent outburst? The MMDA enforcer banged on his hood? I would, too, if a motorist completely ignored my directions. The MMDA enforcer talked in an insolent manner? I would, too, if after many hours of standing in the middle of the road (and getting paid loose change for the effort), a motorist didn't show me some respect and appreciation. Someone even had the imagination to suggest that perhaps Mang Saturnino disrespected Blair's female companion (assuming Carabuena had one).

Let me share with you a thing or two about the mindset of poor people. I'm a little qualified to do so, I think, because I grew up around them. Many of them don't have manners, sure. Many of them are coarse. And many of them are highly capable of violence. But they will not start a fight with a wealthy individual just for the heck of it. There's something about social stature that fazes them.

In Baclaran, where I was born and used to live, even the toughest of the tough would turn into obsequious, meek lackeys around rich people. Sure, the free rounds of alcohol probably help, but something about their body language tells me that the poor would rather not displease someone perceived to be holding an ascendancy over them. They are fully cognizant of the many privileged things affluent people can do to them--shooting or throwing them in jail among these.

Every time an MMDA enforcer steps out onto the streets to perform his often-scoffed-at duty, don't you think he isn't afraid that he could run into a Jason Ivler or a Rolito Go? Think about this for a second: Whenever MMDA personnel report for work, they are risking their own safety out there. They have no idea what kind of a gun-toting psycho could be behind the wheel of the next car. They know that. Do you really think Mang Saturnino would resort to a power trip even after seeing the burly fellow driving that Volvo S60?

I saw a photo of Robert Carabuena wearing a Glock shirt and also a video of him leisurely firing a gun in some shooting range. This guy is obviously a gun aficionado. It's not a stretch of the imagination to assume he was carrying a firearm in his car at the time of the incident. If he was, Mang Saturnino literally had a brush with death. 

Still, doesn't Mr. Carabuena deserve the benefit of the doubt? Isn't it entirely possible that he could be a good person who merely snapped after having had a bad day?

What has this got to do with the issue? We're not talking about the kind of person he is; we're talking about a specific thing he did to an MMDA enforcer on August 11. I don't care if he won the Nobel Peace Prize in the past, he needs to answer for what he committed against Mang Saturnino. Even the Pope won't get a free pass if he breaks the law today (okay, he probably will).

Easy for you to say what you're saying now, but don't you think you're just as capable of doing what Mr. Carabuena did?

First off, I wouldn't attack anyone while wearing a purple shirt. Second, I wouldn't rob a poor man of his dignity. That's all he's got.

Aren't we overreacting by resorting to cyber-bullying?

To be honest, I don't think I'm qualified to judge what constitutes cyber-bullying or whether a person deserves it or not. But I know this: What is now happening to Robert Carabuena is not tantamount to calling a fat kid "ugly" or making fun of Christopher Lao just because he mindlessly drove his car through deep floodwater. It's one thing to put down a person because of his/her physical flaws or misfortune, it's quite another to condemn a wrongdoing.

Having said that, I do agree that many of the comments posted online about Blair are below the belt and have no place in a decent society. That includes remarks about his physique as well as information detailing his personal data. But let's give it to whoever thought of "Road Rage Barney"; that shit is funny.

Let Blair have his 15 minutes of shame now. It will do him a world of good, believe me. I am absolutely certain that this episode will change him for the better. It will convince him that he cannot go through life believing that the destitute are second-class citizens of this planet. He doesn't need your pity now. His life will go back to normal. Pretty soon, he will be partying again and finding gainful employment again (assuming he gets fired at Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco). But for now, let him bury his face in hiding and embarrassment. He will emerge from this a better person. Probably not by much, but better.

On the contrary, if we let this pass and do not rail against it, we will send a very wrong message not just to society as a whole but more so to our kids. They need to understand now--yes, now when it's so easy and so digitally convenient to trample on others--that every single human being has an equal right to respect, dignity and safety.

Aren't MMDA personnel really arrogant and corrupt? Maybe Mr. Fabros deserved what happened to him?

While there may be crooked people in the agency, it's just plain wrong to assume every single one of them deserves our scorn. How is the MMDA different from the company that you're working for? I can guarantee you there also walks a scumbag among you. Arrogance and corruption aren't exclusive to traffic enforcers. The righteous among them definitely deserve to be acknowledged. Don't act like they owe us what they do for a living. Try managing a bunch of moronic drivers eight hours a day under the sun--for a salary that many of us just spend on two shots of whiskey at some pretentious watering hole.

Last week, I personally hung out with four MMDA personnel, who taught me how to use a breathalyzer. They were nice, humble, polite. MMDA officers are real people, not automated machines we can scream at just because we're being ticketed for a violation we committed in the first place.

And what about Mang Saturnino "deserving" what happened to him? There is nothing he could have possibly done that deserved the manhandling he endured from Robert Carabuena. The poor fellow is somebody else's son, brother, maybe even father. If somebody did the same thing to my father, I wouldn't think twice about demonstrating the many things one could do with a lead pipe.

How should the authorities handle this case?

Very decisively. If nothing comes out of this, people will lose all respect for authority in general and the MMDA in particular. I've actually seen drivers taunting MMDA enforcers and running away from them after being apprehended for a traffic violation. Order has to be restored. I hope MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino is a fan of The Avengers.

Will Carlo J. Caparas make a movie about the life of Robert Carabuena?

The assailant didn't go on a shooting rampage. Direk Carlo requires a cold-blooded massacre before he starts working on an award-winning script. Fortunately, there exists a TV show called Bubble Gang. (Don't fail us now, Michael V.)

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Originally posted at Top Gear Philippines.

 

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