Robert Blair Carabuena, is he criminally liable?

Robert Blair Carabuena confronting Saturnino Fabros

Robert Blair Carabuena confronting Saturnino Fabros

Few days ago, we received a news from Interaksyon news team that a certain man mauled a traffic officer.

No need to guess because his name is Robert Blair Carabuena, a Philipp-Morris executive who beat the traffic light and as a result, he was flagged down by an MMDA officer named Saturnino Fabros. As a result, the traffic violator furiously confronted the public officer and before leaving, he slapped the official at his left ear.

Now, the question lies before us. Is he liable for what he did? Can he raise the defense of undue duress against the officer? Was being a top executive gives you the license to slap someone’s face? Now, we answer…

He should be held liable for Direct Assault that is punishable under Article 148 of the Revised Penal Code.

Art. 148. Direct assaults. — Any person or persons who, without a public uprising, shall employ force or intimidation for the attainment of any of the purpose enumerated in defining the crimes of rebellion and sedition, or shall attack, employ force, or seriously intimidate or resist any person in authority or any of his agents, while engaged in the performance of official duties, or on occasion of such performance, shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine not exceeding P1,000 pesos, when the assault is committed with a weapon or when the offender is a public officer or employee, or when the offender lays hands upon a person in authority. If none of these circumstances be present, the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period and a fine not exceeding P500 pesos shall be imposed.

He may raise the defense of undue duress IF on the other side of the story, Saturnino was the one who induced Robert to attack him against his person or his property. According to Wikipedia,

In jurisprudence, duress or coercion refers to a situation whereby a person performs an act as a result of violence, threat or other pressure against the person. Black’s Law Dictionary (6th ed.) defines duress as “any unlawful threat or coercion used… to induce another to act [or not act] in a manner [they] otherwise would not [or would]”. Duress is pressure exerted upon a person to coerce that person to perform an act that he or she ordinarily would not perform. The notion of duress must be distinguished both from undue influence in the civil law and from necessity.

Duress has two aspects. One is that it negates the person’s consent to an act, such as sexual activity or the entering into a contract; or, secondly, as a possible legal defense or justification to an otherwise unlawful act.[1] A defendant utilizing the duress defense admits to breaking the law, but claims that he/she is not liable because, even though the act broke the law, it was only performed because of extreme unlawful pressure.[2] In criminal law, a duress defense is similar to a plea of guilty, admitting partial culpability, so that if the defense is not accepted then the criminal act is admitted.

Duress or coercion can also be raised in an allegation of rape or sexual assault to negate a defense of consent on the part of the person making the allegation.

The license to hurt other people was never been justified especially if the one who did it has a social advantage over the other. Then again, it may be employed as a means of self-defense but the burden of proof lies within the one who invokes it.

The moral lesson? Do not do unto others what you do not want others do unto you.

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