Pampanga congressman denies involvement in road rage incident

Mara Cepeda
Pampanga 1st District Representative Carmelo Lazatin II says the protocol license plate used by the man in the video was issued during the previous 16th Congress, when he was not a congressman yet

NOT HIM. Pampanga 1st District Representative Carmelo Lazatin II holds a press conference to deny his alleged involvement in a road rage incident that went viral online. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Pampanga 1st District Representative Carmelo “Jon” Lazatin II said neither he nor his son were involved in a viral road rage video in Angeles City.

Lazatin held a press conference on Tuesday, November 13, to dispel rumors that his son was the driver of a Toyota FJ Cruiser who was caught on camera attacking another driver, who was inside a red sedan. 

The FJ Cruiser bears a protocol plate with a number 8, the kind of car plate issued to members of the House of Representatives. But Lazatin said the car plate in the video was the one issued in the previous 16th Congress, not the current 17th Congress. 

“Unang-una, ang komento ko po ‘no – dahil duly elected po ako – wala pa namang na-issue na plaka ang 17th Congress. So kung makikita sa video, ang ginamit na plaka ay 16th Congress, so ‘di pa po ako representante pa no’n. So makikita po no’n, walang kaugnayan po sa akin kung anumang viral video ang lumabas,” said Lazatin. 

(First of all – I have to comment because I’m duly elected – the 17th Congress has not issued any plates yet. So as you can see in the video, the plate used was from the 16th Congress, so I wasn’t a representative then. So as you can see, I have nothing to do with any viral video that came out.)

He also said he does not own an FJ Cruiser.

Asked by reporters if his son or any of his relatives were the man in the video, the lawmaker said no. 

“Hindi ko kilala. Nakita ko lang ‘yung video (I don’t know the guy. I only saw the video),” said Lazatin.

He added that the license plate cannot possibly be that of his father, former Pampanga 1st District representative Carmelo Lazatin, as the latter was part of the 15th Congress.

What happened in the video? On Monday, November 12, Facebook video Dash Cam Diaries Philippines posted a minute-long video of a man clad in black who was confronting the driver of a red sedan in the middle of the road somewhere in Angeles City during the wee hours of the morning. The man’s FJ Cruiser was parked right in front of the red sedan. 

A few seconds into the video, the man can be seen punching the driver of the sedan. The man has two companions, a man and a woman, who failed to stop him from punching the driver. The video ended with the man and his companions entering their FJ Cruiser. 

As of Tuesday, the video has garnered 218,000 views on Facebook.

How did Lazatin’s name become involved? The congressman said he first learned about the incident from one of his friends, who was a passenger in the red sedan. The driver of the sedan, meanwhile, is a friend of a councilman from Barangay Camachiles. 

Lazatin said his friend called him right after the incident and told him that the FJ Cruiser driver told the sedan driver that he is supposedly the son of Lazatin.

“Tingin ko po na-link po ito sa distrito [ko], so parang ginagamit ang isang opisyales para siguro makatakas doon sa ginawa niyang ‘di maganda sa isang kababayan po namin,” he said.

(I think I was linked because it involved my district, so maybe they used the name of an official to get out of wrongdoing against one of our constituents.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.