Robert Blair Carabuena: A Case Study of Cyber Bullying
By N. Mark Castro
That the incident became a national interest in the Republic of the Philippines speak volumes to the overwhelming popularity and influence of social media. After all, it had all the ingredients of another favorite Philippine pastime: soap opera. You have the heart-tugging story of an MMDA traffic enforcer Saturnino Fabros, who’s a single dad raising six children with his monthly P 8,000 (US$ 200) salary. On the other side, you have Robert Blair Carabuena, an HR executive at Philip Morris International (PMI) who’s private-school education showcased his elite background while professionally accustomed to dealing with employees with the veil of authority.
So it isn’t surprising as to why Philippine netizens came down swift and hard on Robert Blair Carabuena, ranging from spreading online petitions to terminate his employment to the painful Facebook and Twitter comments. And if that wasn’t enough, even the Palace had to laud Philippine netizens for their vigilance. Why the Philippine president — through presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, had to stoop down to such level is beyond rational communications planning. Indeed, the issue had reached national level.
According to the same linked report, presidential spokesperson said:
“Public engagement is the bedrock of democracy. It is at its most potent and powerful when the constant scrutiny of the citizenry serves as a deterrent to the illicit and unlawful,” Lacierda said.
And yet the very same president has been critical of media — mainstream or online — whenever he is criticized, insisting that news report highlight the government’s achievements instead.
So it wasn’t difficult to imagine why Robert Blair Carabuena had to take out all his social media presence.
The incident was pretty much cut-and-dry: Robert Blair Carabuena drove past a red-light, he was stopped by MMDA Traffic Enforcer Saturnino Fabros, an altercation ensued, and Carabuena’s fit is the kind of intensity we need to see from Manny Pacquaio these days: in both boxing and congressional ring.
Based on the video and pictures alone, it would all but seem that Robert Blair Carabuena is guilty. There is, indeed, no excuse for his demeaning actions wrought upon an institutional peasant. Saturnino Fabros, a 20-year traffic enforcer veteran, isn’t excused from one of the corrupt institutions in the land either; however, we have no legal basis to decide upon this case. Only the judge does. Which is why it is all too important that this case be heard as soon as possible in order to fully appreciate the facts.
The Philippine netizens have done their job. Its vigilance and consistent sharing of pictures and the video allowed for the incident to become a national issue. The online petition directed the attention of a multinational company to participate in the issue itself. That being said, it should now be up to the courts to render its decision.
To do more pushes us deeper to the brink of cyber bullying, in becoming what we’ve detested the most. As Nietzsche said:
If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
Of course, “gazing into an abyss” is a metaphysical concept that has nothing to do with looking into a physical abyss of any sort. It has to do with any abyss of our moral and constitutional compass. As I’ve said, Robert Blair Carabuena has every right to defend himself in the court of law and it is our obligation to provide him as such.
Don’t get me wrong, I share the opinion that based on the pictures and video that Robert Blair Carabuena is a perfectly ghastly man. But I think it’s a little insane of us to think that God Almighty is reserving His Right Seats for us for parading him in Facebook town to show how bad he is and how good we are.
What we need to do, collectively, is to be equally vigilant among ourselves to know when enough is enough.
Or we become no less than what Robert Blair Carabuena has done.