MANILA, Philippines — The motorist who was caught on video, a year ago, berating and then slapping a traffic officer of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) who had flagged him down for a traffic violation, was finally indicted on Thursday, for direct assault, in a Quezon City court.
The arraignment of Robert Blair Carabuena pushed through after Quezon City metropolitan trial court branch 42 Judge Juris Dilinila-Callanta denied a pending request of the defense to postpone the proceedings.
A much slimmer Carabuena pleaded not guilty to the charge of direct assault on an agent of a person in authority while the alleged victim of his attack, MMDA constable Saturnino Fabros, watched intently from the front pew of the court.
Carabuena contested the criminal information, which accused him of attacking Fabros by hitting the MMDA officer several times with his own hat then slapping him on August 11, 2012.
During the arraignment, Carabuena’s lawyer Susana Grace Ojeda immediately asked the court to resolve Carabuena’s request for reconsideration on the charge filed against him and reset the arraignment.
The motion for reconsideration had been filed by the defense after Callanta previously issued an order denying Carabuena’s bid to have the charges against him dropped.
In the nine-page June 18 order, the judge had ruled that the criminal information is sufficient, saying, “Complainant (Fabros) is a traffic constable. The information sufficiently alleges that the accused (Carabuena) knows him to be an agent of a person in authority while the latter was engaged in the actual performance of his duties. At this very early stage of the proceedings, it is of no moment yet whether such knowledge on the part of the accused is true or not. It is a matter of defense which can only be threshed out in full-blown trial on the merits of the case.”
She further stressed that Fabros’ status as a person in authority would be a “matter of defense that can only be determined during trial on the merits.”
During Thursday’s proceedings, Callanta again junked the defense lawyer’s bid for a reconsideration stating that no new argument was raised in the “rehashed” request, which she had already thoroughly discussed in her appealed order.
She likewise took into consideration the prosecution’s remark that the proceedings have already been “delayed for a long period of time” and ordered that the arraignment continue.
Interviewed after the proceedings, a smiling Fabros said that he was glad that Carabuena had already been arraigned. Asked if he still harbored ill feelings against the accused a year after the incident, Fabros replied, “Not so much anymore. But I will still pursue the case against him.”
The direct assault charge against Carabuena stemmed from an August 11, 2012 incident where he allegedly attacked Fabros at the intersection of Capitol Hills Drive and Katipunan Avenue in Old Balara.
The incident was caught on phone video, which went viral on the internet after it was uploaded and was featured on August 14, 2012, in a news and public affairs show aired over TV5.