Is Robert Carabuena worth the trouble to Philip Morris?

Quite unfortunate for Robert Blair Carabuena that he is employed by global tobacco giant Philip Morris International. It does not help the man whose reputation is currently being carpetbombed across social media that he is employed by what is also a much-demonised industry. Carabuena is currently under fire after he was caught on camera assaulting a traffic officer of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). The 26-second video went “viral” after it was posted on the Internet and since then had been the subject of much online chatter.

The way things are going, Carabuena cannot expect to be cut any slack in the foreseeable future. Yesterday, the MMDA had announced that it will file charges against Carabuena and an online campaign is currently being mounted by “concerned citizens” to pressure Philip Morris to fire him from his “recruitment executive” position there.

Clearly Carabuena finds himself on the wrong side of the equation today, staring up at what has become an avalanche of public opinion. The circus is proving to be a public relations bonanza for the MMDA which, on ordinary days, is much-maligned for being the bureaucratic face of the long-dysfunctional Philippine capital. The alleged “victim” in the incident, trafic officer Saturnino Fabros has become a virtual martyr, single-handedly transforming the blue shade of the MMDA traffic officer’s uniform into the new black

Every time an MMDA enforcer steps out onto the streets to perform his often-scoffed-at duty, don’t you think he isn’t afraid that he could run into a Jason Ivler or a Rolito Go [who were also accused of road rage-fueled acts of violence in the past]? Think about this for a second: Whenever MMDA personnel report for work, they are risking their own safety out there. They have no idea what kind of a gun-toting psycho could be behind the wheel of the next car. They know that. Do you really think Mang Saturnino would resort to a power trip even after seeing the burly fellow driving that Volvo S60?

I saw a photo of Robert Carabuena wearing a Glock shirt and also a video of him leisurely firing a gun in some shooting range. This guy is obviously a gun aficionado. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to assume he was carrying a firearm in his car at the time of the incident. If he was, Mang Saturnino literally had a brush with death.

The only relevant question to Carabuena’s current employer is increasingly becoming quite evident:

Is Robert Blair Carabuena worth standing up for?

The real answer to that question remains to be seen as an official statement released by the multinational cigarette manufacturer opts to take the safe route…

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.

While 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.

Suffice to say, in a big corporation, no employee is irreplaceable. This is specially true for one based in a country where labour is in happy abundance. The argument that Carabuena was “on his personal time” is quite valid and, therefore, Philip Morris cannot be held accountable for nor be fairly associated with his behaviour as such. Unfortunately cold logic like that does not move public perception.

Indeed, risk managers within Philip Morris will merely sharpen their pencils and start calculating return on investment (ROI) on any move to save Carabuena’s hide. It comes down to how much in dollar terms Carabuena is worth to Philip Morris and how much in dollar terms the company’s brand equity gets shaved off with every day the company spends in the media spotlight (from its perspective, the wrong kind) while it remains associated with the Carabuena circus.

The MMDA had already reaped the opportunities to profit from this quaint episode. Philip Morris is likely already mapping out how it plans to cut its losses.


Post Author: benign0

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65 Comments on "Is Robert Carabuena worth the trouble to Philip Morris?"

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Hey, I think we should cut Phillip Morris some slack. They’re in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” position now.

We know this may look bad on the company if they keep the guy but it’ll also look bad for them on the professional side of it if the employee decides to sue them and bring his case to the NLRC.


I don’t think it’s fair to bring Carabuena’s job into this issue. It’s going too far. And since they state that it happened during Carabuena’s personal time, they should keep it between the MMDA and Carabuena. I mean, c’mon. Why do we need to take away a man’s job just because he got caught in a street brawl on public news? Have lost respect for privacy? Whoever informed that Carabuena works for Philip Morris is in bad taste. I cannot forgive that.

That’s just ridiculous.


I’m not a smoker and I don’t advocate cigarette companies, either. It’s my sensibility telling me that people are becoming ruthless and irrevocably vengeful. Leave the man’s job alone.


it’s a morality thing. people want bad karma to befall the bad guy immediately. and the fastest way to deliver it would be to cut the source of his arrogance.

Granted, he is a spoiled rich kid, who probably still lives with his parents- but I do agree with the previous comment that a large part of his arrogance is because of his cushy job with a multinational organization. Why should his job not have anything to do with it? The fact that Carabuena is an employee of PMI means PMI owns him. Whether he is on personal time or not. The only reason he hasn’t been fired so far is because PMI knows he is a spoiled rich kid who will likely get mommy and daddy to pay for… Read more »

he should be fired from his job. he is HR for philip morris. how can he demand good conduct from employees if his true self have been revealed by his actions.

let him become a “bastonero” in bilibid, where he is most qualified.


let the guy apologize publicly as he slapped the MMDA man publicly…that’s all we need!

Teabag Deluxe

“It comes down to how much in dollar terms Carabuena is worth to Philip Morris and how much in dollar terms the company’s brand equity gets shaved off with every day the company spends in the media spotlight (from its perspective, the wrong kind) while it remains associated with the Carabuena circus.”

I don’t think anyone would switch from Marlboro/Philip Morris to other cigarette brands just because some neckbeard brawler/employee of theirs was caught on camera hitting another person.

Masyadong masarap ang Marlboro Black. 😛

This Carabuena guy should be taught a lesson. Obviously, he violated the traffic rules that is why he is asked not to block the wsy. And obviously, he hits the guy because of his ego. An Atenean right? The typical rich guy who thinks that he’s the king of the world. If hr’s really smart(i heard that Ateneans not only has the money,but they also has the brains) then why does he acts with his rage first before he thinks about the consequences? A well-known company hired him brcause he’s an asset,yes. But before he is accepted to do thr… Read more »

If it’s punishments you seek, make Carabuena do community service for a week. Or force him to work as an MMDA for a month without pay so he can place himself in their shoes. Just don’t strip him of his job. Get him on leave for a month and do community service. That’s as far as I am willing to comply with punishments.

Isn’t he evaluated first, as a person and as an employee? The typivsl GMRC thing….it’s written right? And the places where he haf worked for are asked not just his good job done but also how he cooperates with his fellow employees. PMI has been taking goof care of his company. This is a scandal and it could worth not jus a lot of profits, but also respect and dignity between buyers anf businessmen. All of us should make this Carabuena guy suffer for the wrong thing that he’d done. Let us show the world that justice still prevails in… Read more »

He should be terminated. One word – “Ethics”!

I think going after his job is really too far. As this incident happened outside his job, it is also safe to say the PM can not fire him with just the incident alone. There are labor laws for a reason, to those who want to keep screaming get him fired. I do not condone his actions but I really am on the side of “What does his job have to do with any of this?” Whatever the case may be, there is still no case, nor trial or what have you. But leave his job alone. If the findings… Read more »
Alvin Lizada

Philip Morris does see this as a problem regarding the Carabuena incident. The company will continue to thrive with or without wild barney. The question is more of moral and not dollars and cents. But this is Philip Morris, am I asking the right question?

Ewan Koh

I’ve been working in the recruitment field for a decade now, and from an employer’s standpoint, Carabuena just dragged PMI’s name through the mud. PMI is already at the losing end from an employer branding point of view because of the nature of its industry. Then “Barney” here decided to take it further with this public display of arrogance. A tobacco company with a recruitment executive from hell. It’s a total PR disaster and an employer branding nightmare.


“Think before you act”, obviously something Carabuena forgot to do.


Let him wear that blue uniform and let him stay in the middle of commonwealth. I am sure that even Ateneans will not hesitate killing him!


let the rule of law decide… if he committed a crime and the punishment is removal from his current position in Philip Morris and I guess it’s fair… although it was committed on his free time… he is still a professional (and should be at all times) and he should be the one to be more tactful not the opposite…

James I

He works at a tobacco company for crying out loud! What do you expect from him and his company, human compassion? Yes, they make cancer sticks and they care for you. Irony.


what can an MMDA officer do in this situation? i mean it’s clearly not correct what Carabuena did to this guy, but as an MMDA officer what could he have done when he was being slapped that will not get him into trouble? i mean if all our public officials are as helpless as this guy, no wonder we get bullied around—both ways! we’re doomed!