This, as Tulfo also on Monday went to Pasay City Hall to lodge a complaint against actor Raymart Santiago, his actress-wife Claudine Barretto, and several “John Does,” for physical injuries.
“Definitely we’re going to file a criminal case against husband and wife and John Does for physical injuries,” Tulfo’s lawyer Mario General, said during an interview.
At least two former journalists turned lawmakers have called out public figures to control their temper, especially in public places.
Representatives Angelo Palmones of Agham party-list and Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar made the call amid the fistfight that ensued between Tulfo and the celebrity couple.
“Public figures should mirror Filipino values. As such, prudence tells us we have to be conscious on what we’re doing in public. We should practice restraint,” Palmones said.
But in the end, Palmones sided with Tulfo, saying that the celebrity couple should not have berated the poor ground staff of an airline over disservice.
Barretto complained that their baggage was offloaded without her consent. When she was airing her side to the ground staff, Tulfo hoisted his phone to take still photos of the actress. Tulfo claimed that he wanted to capture the moment for his regular column published in a broadsheet.
“We should know when to use the outburst. It is never an excuse to use that kind of arrogance.
There is a venue where you can ventilate your complaint. There is a system. This is not the first time [that a baggage is lost],” Palmones added.
Palmones is set to file House Resolution condemning an act against a journalist over the Tulfo-Santiago brawl.
Evardone, for his part, argued that Tulfo should not have been attacked as the latter was only doing his job.
“They have no right to prevent him from taking photos much more to ask him to delete the photos as he is a member of the media,” Evardone added.
Likewise, the National Press Club (NPC) came to the side of Tulfo, a lifetime member of the group, arguing that the incident was an attack against press freedom.
In a statement, the NPC said that Tulfo was “only exercising his obligation as journalist when, according to him, he started taking video footage of Ms. Baretto while in the act of confronting a staffer of Cebu Pacific Air.”
“As prominent members of Philippine cinema and television, Mr. Santiago and Claudine are public figures whose every word and action any member of the press are free to record and report,” said Benny Antiporda, the newly-elected president of the NPC.
“What happened at the NAIA 3 is not a simple case of misunderstanding between passengers but an example of the culture of impunity still prevalent in our society where public figures like the Santiago couple are willing to resort to physical violence against a member of the press who is just doing his job at the moment,” he added.
Santiago first recounted the much talked about incident at the NAIA 3 in an interview with GMA-7’s Showbiz Central on Sunday afternoon.
According to Santiago, he, along with his wife and two children just arrived at the NAIA 3 airport from Boracay aboard Cebu Pacific Flight No. 5J 896 and were looking for their luggage, which apparently were loaded on a different plane due to weight restrictions.
They then asked the ground attendant, “Bakit hindi n’yo naman sinabi sa aming mga pasahero na wala kaming mga bagahe bago kami umalis? Who gave you the right na parang kayo ang nagdesisyon na huwag ikarga ang mga bagahe namin, eh, may mga importanteng gamit doon sa bagahe naming? [Why didn’t you tell us that our baggage were not on the plane. Who gave you the right to decide not to load our baggage? We had a lot of important things in there?]”
One of Santiago’s friends then told him that someone was taking a video of the incident.
“So nilapitan ko, sabi ko, ‘Sir, ano po yung ginagawa n’yo? Biglang sinuntok ako, tapos sinipa ako. Eh, lalaban din ako, di ba?[So I approached him and asked, ‘Sir, what are you doing? Suddenly, he punched and kicked me. I had to fight back]” Santiago said.
Barretto said Tulfo also attacked their friends when they tried to pacify the veteran journalist.
In another interview aired during the “Chikka Minute” segment of the station’s prime time news program 24 Oras, Barretto said her husband was just protecting her after Tulfo kicked and pushed her, resulting in several bruises on her leg.
For his part, Tulfo said he was just taking pity on the woman being berated by Barretto.
Tulfo said he didn’t know who Santiago was, and even tried to introduce himself but the punches came first.
In a statement released by Cebu Pacific, the airline company said it had to offload some luggage due to weight restriction, but had delivered all the said luggages to its owners on the same day.
“Flight 5J-896 from Caticlan to Manila last May 6, 2012 had to offload some luggage due to Caticlan airport’s weight limitation, which is implemented for safety reasons. The bags were loaded in the earliest available Kalibo-Manila flight on the same day and have been delivered to the owners,” Candice Iyog, vice president for Marketing and Distribution said.
“We regret the inconvenience this may have caused our guests and we hope for their understanding as their safety is our primary concern,” Iyog said.
Cebu Pacific had earlier apologized for the late arrival of checked-in luggage from flight 5J-896 (Caticlan-Manila).
“The weight limitation in Caticlan Airport depends on wind conditions in the area, and is implemented for the flight to take off safely,” she said.
Even airport authorities on Monday downplayed the incident as an isolated case.
“It’s no big deal,” Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Angel Honrado said in a phone interview.
He added the MIAA did not pursue a follow up an in-house investigation saying that they would just “let the court decide because we’re not competent enough to determine who threw the first punch.”
The airport manager even said that “it’s not every day that there had been cases just like that.”
The best the MIAA could do, Honrado stressed, is to have a retraining program among the security personnel.
MIAA also wasn’t able to record the incident due to absence of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the area and the only footage of the brawl that was posted on Youtube came from a concerned citizen.
With a report from Neil Alcober
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