In Defense of Mon Tulfo

It doesn't matter who started the fight so much as who didn't end it.

It must be a cold day in hell because, for the first time ever, this website sympathizes with Inquirer columnist Mon Tulfo.

Not because of anything he said but because of what happened to him: Held down and beaten by two celebrities and their man-tourage at an airport.

Also, too much pink

The fight apparently began when Tulfo, being both curious and at one time in his life vaguely a journalist, took out his mobile phone to take pictures of actress Claudine Barretto complaining about misplaced luggage.

According to the Inquirer, where Tulfo works:

Tulfo pulled out his mobile phone and took photos of the scene, which he said would form part of a column he intended to write, when a man from the actress’ group approached him.

The man, whom he later recognized as Barretto’s husband, “demanded to get my phone which I used in taking shots.” Tulfo said he refused to surrender his phone.

Santiago continued to force Tulfo to give up his phone when several men joined the actor, according to the columnist. Tulfo said he could not recall who threw the first punch because he was being ganged up [on].

Tulfo says he was blind-sided but Barrett and her husband Raymart Santiago say Tulfo started the fight:

In an interview with Inquirer Entertainment and posted on INQUIRER.net after the incident, Santiago said that when he approached Tulfo to ask him about his cellphone video, the columnist suddenly punched and kicked him and his wife.

“Why would I hit an older man in front of my children? I wasn’t brought up by my parents that way,” he explained.

As we have no way of knowing how the Santiagos brought Raymart up, we will have to take that at face value. We will also have to note, however, that “not being brought up that way” has as much weight as a legal defense as saying “It wasn’t me.”

Tulfo’s reputation as a hot-headed potty mouth works against him in this case, as was seen on the first reactions on Twitter: They were pretty much about how Tulfo is “less of a man” for getting into a fight with a girl (and her man-tourage). But this was before a video of the incident began circulating on the Internet:

Barretto insists, on ABS-CBNNews.com,  that Tulfo kicked her and kicked her first:

Barretto said Tulfo also kicked her twice when she confronted him about why he punched her husband.

“Lumapit ako sabi ko ‘Anong problema mo? Bakit ka nanununtok?’ Tapos bigla na lang humarap siya sa akin, tinadyakan niya ako ng dalawang beses sa hita tapos tinulak ako sa may counter ng sobrang lakas,” she said.

Tulfo admits he may have kicked Barretto:

While trying to fight his way out, Tulfo said Barretto, who was nearby, repeatedly cursed at him. He said he might have hit the actress with a kick as he tried to fight back.

In that video, someone, presumably Santiago keeps saying “Hindi pa ako tapos! (I’m not yet done!).” And that, more than anything, makes whatever defense that Tulfo allegedly started the fight invalid.

Let’s say Tulfo did start the fight. Santiago and his man-tourage would have been justified in hitting back, but only to a certain extent. Knock him out, maybe. Or push him away and then form a protective circle around Barretto until security arrived. Engaging in a brawl does not count as self defense.

According to the Revised Penal Code, Santiago and his man-tourage can claim self defense in the face of unlawful aggression, but that hinges on the reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it and the lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.*

A choke hold while loudly proclaiming you are not yet done does not count as reasonable necessity in any case except in the Octagon. Tulfo was on the ground and, although he was fighting back, was no longer a threat to anything except his tough-guy image.** Security was also on the way by the time the video was taken, so Santiago, his pal in pink, and Barretto could have–should have–backed off already.

Also, Barretto is seen taking part in the brawl herself, which means she’s as much a part of it as their bad-ass friend in pink whom Tulfo actually hits with a kick. Despite being held in a choke hold. And being an old man. Good job, Turtle.

More important than a celebrity couple beating up someone who is vaguely a journalist is a celebrity subjecting ordinary citizens to verbal abuse:

Barretto allegedly started cursing at Cebu Pacific ground staff Cid Charisse Bocboc and Kristina Anne Ilagan after she found out that their luggage had been left behind.

Aside from not having their luggage, Barretto also got mad because their flight was delayed, Bocboc told airport authorities.

Bocboc said she asked Barretto for the baggage claim stub and description of their luggages for proper tracing, but Barretto reportedly continued her tongue-lashing of the ground crew in front of other arriving passengers.

Ilagan, on the other hand, told authorities she explained to Barretto that due to weight limitations and for safety reason, their luggages had to be flown to Kalibo Airport, Aklan and that these would soon be brought to Manila.

Despite their explanations, Ilagan and Bocboc, in their handwritten statements to airport authorities, said Barretto continued to verbally abuse them.

We get that flying on Cebu Pacific can be a headache sometimes, but that is no reason to take it out on the ground crew in Manila for luggage left behind in Aklan. In the first place, they had nothing to do with it, being in Manila. And also, they are just wage slaves like the rest of us who aren’t celebrities and do not deserve that sort of treatment at all. Especially not for a problem that was already being addressed: the luggage was already being brought over to Manila.

One must also note that the luggage was supposedly left behind due to “weight limitations and for safety reason (sic)” so Barretto and Santiago may have had something to do with that. Maybe they packed too much stuff? Even if they didn’t, it bears thinking about that had Cebu Pacific loaded the luggage on the plane, the argument would not have happened. Possibly because the plane crashed into the sea.

*An Act Revising the Penal Code and Other Penal Laws [REVISED PENAL CODE], Act No.3815, art.11 (1932)

** I mean, he’s in pink even.