Hearing for reinvestigation sought by ‘road bully’ set for FridayBy Jeannette I. Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—A Quezon City court has set for Friday the hearing for a reinvestigation sought by a motorist, who was caught two months ago on video assaulting a Metropolitan Manila Development Authority traffic constable.
The hearing was set after lawyer Caesar Ortega filed a motion for reinvestigation with Judge Juris Callanta of Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 42 supposedly to afford Robert Blair Carabuena, a human resource executive of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp., a chance to be heard in the direct assault charge filed against him.
Carabuena was caught on a phone video berating and slapping MMDA constable Saturnino Fabros at a Quezon City intersection on August 11 after the latter flagged him and his brother Benjamin down for a traffic violation. The short clip, which was taken by a TV5 researcher, quickly went viral and made Carabuena the target of cyberspace jeering for weeks.
Carabuena then issued a public apology to Fabros and the MMDA, but the charge was still filed with the full backing of MMDA lawyers.
Judge Callanta later issued an arrest warrant against Carabuena, who promptly posted last week a P12,000 bail for his provisional liberty.
In his eight-page motion, Ortega said that a reinvestigation would “afford the accused (Carabuena) one last opportunity to establish lack of probable cause, which opportunity was inexplicably, unreasonably, and unjustly denied him by the prosecutors.”
He claimed that assistant city prosecutor Victorino Badua Jr. did not give Carabuena sufficient time and a reasonable opportunity to submit his counter-affidavit during the preliminary investigation.
The lawyer further maintained that although Badua had been informed of the delay in Carabuena’s filing of a counter-affidavit because of his difficulty in securing affidavits of his witnesses, “who were unwilling to get involved and who were not ready to suffer any inconvenience despite their willingness to disprove that much publicized allegations of the complaint,” the assistant city prosecutor wrapped up the preliminary investigation and filed the information for direct assault in court.
When he appealed on September 20 for the city prosecutor to admit Carabuena’s counter-affidavit, “Instead of giving accused fundamental courtesy of ruling on the motion, the office of the city prosecutor rushed and scrambled to file the case,” he claimed.
He argued that valid and legitimate defenses should not be defeated by mere technicalities.
In his September 17 counter-affidavit, Carabuena claimed that if he had hit Fabros across the face with the latter’s hat during the incident, it was because he had been insulted and irked by Fabros’ arrogance towards him.
He further claimed that he had been provoked to slap Fabros after the constable rained insults on him when he had unintentionally blocked with his car the heavily congested intersection of Capitol Hills Drive and Katipunan Avenue.
Carabuena said that he had gotten off his car to confront and pacify Fabros, who allegedly kept on insulting him, and to tell the constable that it was he who had signaled him to drive forward instead of turning left toward Katipunan Avenue and would not have caused him to block the intersection.
But Fabros denied Carabuena’s claim that he was compelled to snatch the MMDA personnel’s hat from his head, to make a point that he recognized Fabros as the one who had instructed him to move forward, thus, unintentionally causing the gridlock.
Carabuena further maintained that any action he might have done against Fabros was only a “reaction to what was done to me” and was intended to defend his dignity and those of his parents, who were with him in his car at the time of the incident.