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Online Outrage Works: Philip Morris Suspends Carabuena

August 16, 2012

I don’t cherish calling for a person’s suspension or termination from his job since that that would mean loss of livelihood or income. However in the case of MMDA assailant Robert “Blair” Carabuena, his suspension or even

MMDA T/C Saturnino Fabros filing the direct assault case against Carabuena. Photo by Yves Gonzales (Instagram/Twitter)

MMDA T/C Saturnino Fabros filing the direct assault case against Carabuena. Photo by Yves Gonzales (Instagram/Twitter)

possible termination is justified since his executive position makes him a representative of his company. Of course, the suspension or termination of an employee is a corporate prerogative and must be based on established laws and be meted out judiciously after due process.

A YouTube video of Carabuena, an Ateneo alumnus and an executive of Philip Morris International, assaulting a lowly MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) traffic enforcer, Saturnino Fabros, ignited online uproar and calls for the immediate termination of his employment with PMI.

A petition signed by University of the Philippines Diliman professor Dr. J. Prospero De Vera III, Ateneo De Manila University professor and lobbyist Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia, journalist Ellen Tordesillas, and civic and social organization professional Marilyn Mana-ay Robles calls on “PMI to immediately act on this unforgiveable incident and accordingly fire him.”

Filipino netizens and bloggers (me included) also called for the immediate firing of the PMI executive who earned the monikers “fat pig”, “Wild Barney” and “Carabeef”.

The petition states:

“”We are aware of the incident involving our employee Robert Blair Carabuena.

“The incident happened last Saturday (Aug 11) and Mr. Carabuena was on his personal time and was not doing any work in behalf of the company when the incident took place.”

“When the complete facts surrounding the incident are not yet clear to make a full appreciation of the situation, the company would obviously not condone inappropriate conduct by any of our employees.”

“We understand the matter is being investigated by the authorities and we will monitor developments closely.”

The road rage incident that changed Carabuena's life forever...

The road rage incident that changed Carabuena’s life forever…

It now appears that public call for Carabuena’s termination or suspension worked, as PMI has suspended its notorious executive who is considered “bad” for the company’s “executive health”.

The company’s official statement, released on Thursday, said:

“The Metro Manila Development Authority has announced that it will file charges against Robert Blair Carabuena, an employee of PMFTC [Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp.], over an incident with a traffic enforcer that took place on Saturday, August 11. Mr. Carabuena was on his personal time and not on duty for the company at the time.

“PMFTC has suspended Mr. Carabuena pending the outcome of the investigation.

“PMFTC reiterates that it does not condone inappropriate conduct by any of our employees.”

Well, this reminds me of an American guy named Adam Smith, a strong but idiotic advocate of gay marriage, who bullied a drive-thru employee of a now popular American Restaurant Chick-fil-a for the anti-gay marriage stand of its owner.

Vante, the company that employed Smith as its CFO, released the following statement:

“Vante regrets the unfortunate events that transpired yesterday in Tucson between our former CFO/Treasurer Adam Smith and an employee at Chick-fil-A,” the company said in a statement. “Effective immediately, Mr. Smith is no longer an employee of our company.
“We hope that the general population does not hold Mr. Smith’s actions against Vante and its employees,” the statement continued.

What did the Vante CFO do that cost him his job? He posted the following video clip on YouTube:

Apart from his suspension, Carabuena also faces possible revocation of his license and jail time for direct assault.

From Yahoo News:

Meanwhile, MMDA already asked the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to revoke Carbuena’s license, Yves Gonzales, head of the MMDA traffic disclipline office told Yahoo! Southeast Asia in a phone interview.

“MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino has drafted a letter to LTO Assistant Secretary Virginia Santos, asking them to look into the case and if possible revoke the license,” Gonzales said.

The LTO also confirmed that licenses may be revoked under certain grounds.

“Pwede po talagang i-revoke ang license, kung halimbawa gumamit ka ng sasakyan na ginamit sa krimen (Licenses may indeed be revoked, such as in cases when motorists use vehicles identified in criminal cases),” Daisy Jacobo, chief of LTO’s traffic safety division.

Tolentino on Wednesday said “abusive and arrogant motorists like him (Carabuena), who obviously do not have serious regard to the rule of law, have no right to be in the road in the first place.”

22 Comments leave one →
  1. humanaso permalink
    August 16, 2012 3:38

    This is an illegal dismissal according to DOLE labor code.

    Labor code provides for either “Authorized causes” which are of two types – “business reasons and disease. The business reasons are installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment and closure or cessation of operation (art. 283, Labor Code)”.

    The other is “just causes” defined as: “blameworthy acts on the part of the employee such as serious misconduct, willful disobedience, gross and habitual neglect of duties, fraud or willful breach of trust, commission of a crime and other analogous causes (art. 282, Labor Code”.

    Keep in mind the definition of commission of a crime: “Commission of a crime or offense against the employer, employer’s family or representative; and Other analogous causes.

    I believe he has grounds for a labor case Against PM. His actions outside of his job are not grounds for dismissal according to labor law.

    So why is it that PM can publicly announce his illegal dismal without concern for the law. Is it because the slapped MMDA is a government employee? Is it because of public sentiment?

    My point is If I wanted to dismiss an undesirable employee I’d have to jump though hoops and still would have a hard time.

    • August 16, 2012 3:38

      Yes. I also searched that before posting this. I was about to state that Carabuena’s position is that of a corporate officer, in which case his suspension would not be covered by the Labor Code. Termination or suspension of corporate officers is an intracorporate dispute, over which the RTC has an original and exclusive jurisdiction. So far we’re not sure if Carabuena is PMI’s corporate officer. Because if he’s a corporate officer, that provision in the Labor Code would not apply.

      • anon permalink
        August 16, 2012 3:38

        Sorry, but i just wanna clarify that the above guy is correct. The “corporate position” you’re referring to is actually under Book 3 Title I of the Labor Code, which is not applicable to “Managerial Employees”. The guy above is referring to Book 7 (if i remembered correctly) of the Labor Code, which refers to how an “employee” may be legally terminated. The RTC never handles any Labor related cases, as it does not have any jurisdiction over labor cases. The NLRC has the jurisdiction over labor cases. Just a clarification.

      • August 16, 2012 3:38

        Perhaps he’s correct. That the position of Carabuena is not, by legal definition, a corporate officer.

    • August 16, 2012 3:38

      By the way Art. 282 pertains to “Termination by employer”. Carabuena was not terminated. He was suspended.

    • justmytwocents permalink
      August 20, 2012 3:38

      It may be argued that Carabuena’s behavior, even while he was off-duty, is sufficient to justify his termination based on “loss of trust or confidence”, which may fall under “fraud or willful breach of trust” or “other analogous cases” under Art. 282 of the Labor Code. Considering that he is an HR Executive, which is a managerial position, the standards that may be applied to his case would not be as stringent as those applied to cases involving rank-and-file employees. Employers must be able to place more trust and confidence in their managers as the latter are given a lot more authority and discretion in performing their jobs, which often entail leading and supervising other employees. This is all the more material in the case of Carabuena, who is a human resource manager–for what characters should a company expect such an HR manager, who fails to act with propriety and decency at all times, would hire/tolerate. Surely, the Labor Code, whilst protecting the plight of the worker, was not meant to fully discount the employer’s welfare.

      • justmytwocents permalink
        August 20, 2012 3:38

        And yes, he was has not been terminated, just suspended. Whether said suspension was only preventive suspension–meaning, it was meant to be a temporary measure to keep him from causing further harm pending the company’s investigation of his case–or an outright penalty is quite unclear. Just the same, either kind must be also based on sufficient grounds.

  2. aspasia permalink
    August 16, 2012 3:38

    A fund for Mang Saturnino has been setup. please donate a dollar or two to make a statement against abuse by the rich to the poor:

  3. Alex Palencia permalink
    August 17, 2012 3:38

    @Humanaso Be that as it may you are right “by the book”. However, company’s rules and regulations applies here. The PMFTC should be the first to act swiftly on this matter. Now, since he is now suspended, Mr. Robert Blair Carabuena can no longer go to work. On this instance, PMFTC will have to wait on the ruling of the court on this matter. There is nothing they can do when decisions came later. When the court decides against Mr. Carabuena, PMFTC should follow court’s decision. And in time being, it is up to PMFTC to retain the suspension of this guy according to company’s discretion on the matter. On how PMFTC will act on this, is still a question and until the court rule on the said case. Now, the labor case will be best used when Mr. Carabuena thinks that his case is being mishandled by PMFTC. We better watch this case progress because this will help us understand the complex of the law on the case of Mr. Carabuena.

    • humanaso permalink
      August 17, 2012 3:38

      @Alex But when company rules conflict with labor code. labor code prevails. I can make rules all day long but when the employee complains to DOLE, my rules are irrelevant if they conflict with dole code.
      It is not fair because an employer should be permitted to run his business as he sees fit, but the labor law favors the employee, it is not neutral.

  4. jojo permalink
    August 17, 2012 3:38

    You guys above talk about Labor Code. yes you both correct but you forget that Carabuena done damages in company which enough to dismiss him, terminate him.

    Imagine, if millions of people use Philip Morris Brand of cigarrete hates the Carabueana MMDA assaut- they possibly lost millions of sale.

    We are talking only million of people here but how about if we multifly it with number of sticks of cigarrets consumed by every million Philip smokers? This is very big money lost!

    Nice wise for a company to sacrifice their billions income just to save their employees who cost it lost rather they save their income over him.

    • humanaso permalink
      August 17, 2012 3:38

      I’m not saying he should or shouldn’t be dismissed. I’m saying the Labor Law gets in the way of PM firing him for this incident which is unrelated to his job and technically PM has to prove Carabueana’s actions damage the company. They can’t just claim they will lose sales due to Carabueana’s actions on his own time.

      If Carabueana does not contest a dismissal all of this is moot.

      My interest in all of this is actually not about the incident but rather how Labor Law is inimical to freedom of choice and forces a relationship to continue even though one party wishes it cease. An employer/employee relationship should be between the two parties involved not a third (dole).

    • Ryan permalink
      August 17, 2012 3:38

      I doubt, this issue will affect the sale of PM. But people will hate Carabueana only.

  5. jojo permalink
    August 17, 2012 3:38

    Not* wise

  6. edward permalink
    August 17, 2012 3:38

    Misbehaviour that dragged the company or ruined company’s reputation wether on personal or business time must be terminated, proof seen was already obvious so no need to think it over. Philip Morris must think or filipino will boycott their product and they will lost millions than losing a single person. Think about it Philip Morris

    • humanaso permalink
      August 17, 2012 3:38

      @Edward But their hands (PM) are tied due to labor law. They are not allowed to think for they are required to follow labor law’s strenuous criteria for dismissal.

      • Mishra permalink
        August 17, 2012 3:38

        as an HR practicitioner, Carabuena knows the labor code and will use it to his advantage. Nonetheless, the attention and slew of negative comments about his actions is a punishment in a way. He will now be more cautious specially when going out and being flagged down by another MMDA. What if that officer remembers his face and is not as patient as Fabros…

        He will now use the famous “silent move” wherein he will not give any statement unless in the proper channels so as not to refresh the memories of netizens and other personalities.

        It will die down when another scandal / big event comes in to replace this fiasco.

  7. August 17, 2012 3:38

    I think most companies, especially the foreign ones have their rules regarding employees’ behavior outside their premises. Most of the time, a company is “hands-off” on personal matters of their employees as long as there’s no indication of the person representing the company (wearing uniform, ID, using company issued car, etc) while doing the bad act.

    Unluckily for him, his act was publicized and people were quick to search his details including his work info and was able to put the pressure on his employers.

    – Rogie

  8. Mishra permalink
    August 17, 2012 3:38

    there was no announcement that he was terminated it was merely a suspension. It may have been a sort of preventive suspension on the part of PMFI. They may have clauses in their contracts regarding morality issues or certain provisions in their code of conduct that covers bad (sorry tried to use another word but failed) behavior that puts a company in bad light, ultimately losing revenues etc…

  9. Mishra permalink
    August 20, 2012 3:38

    Given that the attention of most if not all Pinoys are now ont he S&R of Jess Robredo (still hoping for the best) this issue will be forgotten in a few days time. Much less, gives the corporation more leeway to work it’s magic in the MMDA (hoping that this will not come true).

    No new updates have been released and Mr. Carabuena has been silent throughout the issue… he knows this will die down if he keeps silent and not resort to word war with the netizens.

  10. erwinx permalink
    August 20, 2012 3:38

    Don’t sleep on this issue. Other arrogant people will have an impression that matters like this they can easily gat away 😦 “kawawa na naman si juan dela cruz”

  11. Daryl permalink
    August 23, 2012 3:38

    A company’s lost of income due to an employee is a legal ground for termination, PM will only need to prove the drop on sales from this month to the next few months.

    I hope we can hold on to a copy of PM’s employee handbook and the applicable Labor Law sections, so we can all make our own fair assessment.

    Better yet, Robert should voluntarily resign negotiate his separation pay start a new life elsewhere.

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