A Maserati-driving businessman accused of mauling a traffic officer said he fears for his safety after he was transformed into an internet villain.
The businessman, Joseph Russel Ingco, was caught on video holding a traffic officer by his shirt and dragging him along the road out of the window of his blue Maserati Ghibli. The aide had flagged him down for a violation.
The video, shot by a fellow traffic officer, went viral, drawing the ire of the country’s vocal Facebook and Twitter mobs, and prompting city authorities to put up a P100,000 reward for information on the businessman’s whereabouts.
Social media users vilified Ingco, calling him a “road bully”, “liar” and “mauler.”
“This shows that social media can be a tool for justice,” Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino said on Saturday.
“I am afraid for my safety. I am willing to face the consequences,” Ingco told GMA television.
He admitted punching the traffic aide, but said it was only to loosen the officer’s grip on his shirt collar. He claimed the aide punched him too, though he had no visible bruises on his face.
Ingco’s victim, Jorbe Adriatico, was set to undergo surgery yesterday to repair his broken nose.
Police filed an assault complaint against Ingco before city prosecutors, who will decide if he is to stand trial. No arrest warrant has been issued.
Tolentino vouched for the traffic aide’s credibility, saying he had so far served an exemplary six years with the traffic bureau and was cited by police for helping arrest street criminals.
“I think he’s telling the truth. He’s a credible guy and we stand by him,” he said.
Tolentino said the video of the incident “affirms the truthfulness” of the traffic aide’s statement.
In 2012, a cigarette company executive was pilloried on Twitter and Facebook after he slapped a traffic enforcer. He was suspended from work and charged in court with direct assault.
Tolentino said he would help Adriatico pursue charges against Ingco and would oppose possible attempts at a settlement.
“Let’s move towards justice,” he said.