The Amalayer Controversy: Who’s the Real Victim?

Paula Salvosa may have long been chasing her dream of seeing herself in the spotlight. The feisty 23-year-old student has auditioned for the MYX VJ Search thrice. But unfortunately for her, what shoved her right to stardom wasn’t her gift of gab. It was her momentary outburst in public.

An enraged Salvosa was caught on cam berating Sharon Mae Casinas, a lady guard, at the LRT 2 Santolan Station on Tuesday, November 13, after the latter allegedly grabbed her when she failed to put her bag on the conveyor of the X-ray machine for security check.

On the video uploaded on YouTube and sent to news programs TV Patrol and 24-Oras by a certain Gregory Paulo Llamoso, Salvosa was seen giving Casinas a dressing-down. At one point, she could be heard yelling, “I’m a liar? I’m a liar?” Salvosa’s pronunciation of those words gave birth to the buzzword “Amalayer” which was later on used as a hashtag on Twitter and trended worldwide.

According to a GMA News report, the video, which went viral on Facebook Tuesday night, got more than 68,000 shares and 17,000 comments – proof that Salvosa has become an instant celebrity.

Since the video went viral, Salvosa has managed to air her side of the story on several news programs. On TV5’s Andar ng Mga Balita, she said she is ready to take a lie-detector test to prove that she’s telling the truth. She also claimed that the video of her confrontation with Casinas was taken out of context. She maintained that she wouldn’t have reacted that way if the lady guard did not grab and treated her rudely.

Casinas, on the other hand, aired her version of the story over dzRH radio on Saturday morning. She insisted that Salvosa was the aggressor. She claimed that she was only doing her job. According to her, she only asked Salvosa to put her bag through the X-ray machine for proper inspection. But Salvosa began raising her voice.  She said she remained calm despite the humiliation. She even added that the feisty La Consolacion student even threatened to have her fired and demanded that she go down on her knees and apologize to her.

Pag hindi ako nag-sorry papatanggal niya ako. Pagluhod daw ako sa harap ng pasahero, yan gusto niya kailangan marinig ng pasahero,” she said in the interview. Salvosa refuted that claim, “Sino ba ako para magpaluhod ng tao di ba? Sabi ko I want you to apologize to me in front of everybody sa LRT.”

Both parties, however, have expressed willingness to put the issue to rest and reconcile.

The public took sides – most sided with the underdog

Since the video went viral on social networking sites, netizens were naturally agog to express their varied opinions on the issue. Most comments berated Salvosa for her rude behavior. Some even went to the extent of questioning how she was raised by her parents—a tirade which I believe was uncalled for.

Even celebrities chimed in, including sisters Saab and Maxene Magalona.  “I just saw this #AMALAYER video. Grabe talaga. Practice humility even if you believe you are right,” Saab said on Twitter.

Maxene also tweeted, “I don’t need to know her side of the story. Whether she is RIGHT, she has NO RIGHT to treat people that way. #AMALAYER.”

Clearly, most people sided with the “underdog,” finding Salvosa’s attack on Casinas offensive. And it wasn’t surprising that the lady guard is getting all the sympathy. Here we see an aggressive young woman who claims to be educated berating a lowly lady guard who didn’t fight back and just took the lashing in.

We Filipinos are notorious for that – just look at the ratings of primetime telenovelas and you would know where our love for the underdog stems from.

But all things considered, I believe that moral of the story is that we should all be wary of how we treat other people, especially in public. Especially when someone like Gregory Paulo Llamoso could be lurking around ready to capture our meltdown on cam with the intent of spreading it all over cyberspace and feeding it to TV stations – which brings me to ask…

Was uploading the video necessary?

I’m no stranger to public outbursts. I’ve had my fair share of that. On the morning following my dad’s death in December of 2006, I lashed out at a family of five at a taxi stand in SM Manila because they cut in the line. My dad passed away the evening before, I haven’t slept and I went straight to the supermarket after making arrangements for his funeral. My emotions got the better of me. I yelled and hurled invectives at them. At that moment, I knew I didn’t make daddy proud. Thankfully, no one was toting a camera to document my meltdown. And YouTube and Facebook weren’t all the rage back then. I was one lucky b*tch.

But Paula Salvosa wasn’t that lucky.

We will never know what happened to Paula Salvosa prior to her riding the train. She could have had a rough day at school. Regardless, I’d like to believe that she wouldn’t have lost her temper just because. And it wasn’t her fault that she snapped in full public view.

I’m one with people who are saying that while her behavior was explicitly wrong and that she overreacted, she didn’t deserve being shoved into the spotlight in this manner.

What was the intention of Gregory Paulo Llamoso? Why did he take the video (which, by the way, he took inconspicuously)? Was it his way of getting his own five minutes of fame?

I’m at a loss here. I perused every available story on this incident over the Internet. All accounts covered Salvosa’s and Casinas’s versions of the incident. But nobody seemed to have gotten hold of Llamoso and his side of the story. To me, he is just as vital to this tale as the protagonist and the antagonist. In fact, none of us would have been privy to Salvosa’s outburst if it wasn’t for him. I tried to check Llamoso’s Facebook profile, but it seems he has taken it down.

Atty. Mel Sta. Maria, resident legal analyst of TV5, likewise finds Llamoso’s action objectionable. In his article on the Interaksyon website, he wrote, “The video of a girl berating a security guard has gone viral. This is unfortunate. I pity the girl. For me, there is something wrong in the posting of that video. While anyone is free to take pictures or videos, he or she must nevertheless not abuse that right.”

Atty. Sta. Maria also said that the person who took the video could be held liable for his action: “If there is abuse, he or she can be held accountable for the injury to the one embarrassed. This is what we call in law the ABUSE OF RIGHT DOCTRINE. This precept is embodied in Article 19 of the Civil Code providing that “every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith”.

He probed, “Upon the posting of the video, how much of the girl’s “peace of mind” was seriously disturbed and how much did this affect her “private life or relations with her family”? Could it even have caused her “to be alienated from her friends”?”

According to him, Article 26 relevantly provides that “every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons” by not, among others, “intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends” or “disturbing the private life or family relations of another.”

Based on this, could we then say that Paula Salvosa could press charges against Llamosa? Is this covered by the controversial Anti-cybercrime Law? Atty. Sta. Maria said it isn’t. “The Cybercrime law is irrelevant in this case. You do not need that law to hold accountable an abuser of right.  As I said, if warranted, there are already appropriate laws to address this situation. You have the “abuse of right doctrine” under the Civil Code, and if criminal intent is proven, the posting may even be tantamount to slander by deed under the Revised Penal Code,” he explained.

Whether Salvosa decides to take legal action or not, one thing is clear: Llamoso is guilty of overstepping his boundaries. He took advantage of Salvosa’s unguarded moment of outrage, filmed it, and took the liberty of spreading the video of the unsuspecting lady’s meltdown.

He even introduced his video with the lines, “I don’t care how this incident started. “ That said, it doesn’t take a genius to surmise that his intent is no more than getting his share of the spotlight. And he got it. At the expense of the lady everyone is ganging up on now.

Salvosa Cries Cyberbullying

In the wake of this brouhaha, Salvosa found herself the subject of cyberbullying. She has been called names on Twitter and Facebook, and even on some blogs. Her family has even been dragged into this.

In an interview with GMA 7’s 24-Oras, Salvosa cried foul, “I deactivated my Facebook, I deactivated my Twitter account. I wanted to keep mum about the whole thing but sobra na po, bugbog na bugbog na ako. Everybody commits mistakes. May perfect po ba sa mundo? Wala naman eh.”

Apart from getting irked with Salvosa’s dressing down of Casinas, netizens were also quick to nitpick on her use of the English language while berating the lady guard. Most made fun of her now famous line, “I’m a liar?” Parodies of this incident have also proliferated in cyberspace. To me, it’s another form of cyberbullying.

Again, one person paved the way for Salvosa to be cyberbullied. If Llamosa had better sense, he could have restrained himself from taking the video and instead, stepped in to pacify the enraged Salvosa to keep the incident from getting blown out of proportion.

The problem these days is that, most people couldn’t fight the itch to share everything in social media. Some even wash their dirty linen on Facebook. We even have TV programs like Face to Face where people unabashedly share even the most humiliating aspects of their lives for all the world to see.

We have the propensity to take something that has ‘viral potential,’ and turn it into an Internet sensation, even if it offends sensibilities.

If only we could truly think first before we click, then cyberspace – no, make that the world – would truly be a better place.

Beef about Transport Security  

Commuting via the LRT and the MRT isn’t exactly easy-peasy, more so for a lady. You get pushed and shoved, you get treated to a variety of scents, most of which you wish you’d never smell at all, you get groped, you get ogled at – it’s taxing.

But dealing with rude passengers isn’t the only thing commuters have to contend with. Long queues at the entrance and exit points are just as patience-testing. Then there’s the issue on security checks.

Personally, I don’t feel violated getting frisked. I don’t even mind opening my bag for inspection. In fact, going through the tedious process gives me peace of mind. But not everyone shares my enthusiasm. Most women balk at the idea of having to go through such security procedures. They find it inconvenient, to say the least. And Paula Salvosa must have been one of them.

In the spirit of fairness, I have also encountered quite a few impolite guards who, instead of doing their duties courteously, brusquely treat the people they frisk. Such is a trigger for outrage.

In the wake of this incident, the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) issued a statement on November 14 that says, “It is inevitable that during the implementation of security measures, passengers encounter inconveniences. They should understand that the Authority cannot compromise the safety and security of the riding public. It is one of our policies that station and security personnel refrain from making side comments and facial expressions that may be offensive to our passengers. Ms. Casinas displayed the right attitude expected of a security guard, that is, to be courteous and tolerant in spite of the embarrassment she got from the irate passenger,” according to an article on Interaksyon.com.

Engr. Emerson Benitez, LRTA Officer-in-Charge, also said that security personnel are instructed to strictly implement the policy to ensure the safety and security of passengers, and asked for the riding public’s understanding and patience.

He assured the public that all LRT security personnel have undergone a seminar on Quality Customer Service Delivery before their deployment and are given refresher courses semi-annually.

He also added that the requests and needs passengers’ cooperation and support for their own safety and welfare.

Now if we all could keep an open mind and extend respect and courtesy to everyone we come across, then we could avoid experiencing this situation.

So, who’s the real victim here?

After taking all sides of the story into account, I can safely say that everyone who got involved in this controversy is a victim. Except one.

Sharon Mae Casinas, in the performance of her duty, must have offended Paula Salvosa. The latter lashed out on the former because she felt she was violated. To me, they are both victims of an unfortunate circumstance.

Salvosa could be faulted for losing her cool and berating Casinas in public, but she herself, is a victim. Her fleeting meltdown was captured on cam without her knowing it. It was spread on television and all over the Internet, making her the most vilified person in cyberspace. She was a victim of ill-intent.

Netizens, who are always hungry for controversy, are to some extent, victims as well. We were all dragged into this circus, which was orchestrated by a cam-toting attention-seeker who doesn’t have the balls to come forward and explain his motive.