SEN. Antonio Trillanes IV led two coup attempts against then president Gloria Arroyo in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege. Though they were more of a protest against corruption than a serious attempt to topple the government. They took over an apartment and a hotel in Makati, not a state camp or facility.
Trillanes spent seven years and a half in jail for the misadventures until he was granted amnesty. But it elected him senator in 2007 and reelected him in 2013.
Now he’s the “bad boy” in the Senate, if one counts the ethics complaints filed or threatened to be filed against him by Sen. JV Ejercito (last July 4 for calling the Senate the lapdog of President Duterte), one Abelardo de Jesus (last Feb. 28, for calling Duterte a “murderer”) and Sen. Richard Gordon (last Aug. 31, for calling the Blue Ribbon committe “Komite de Absuwelto”).
Trillanes is obviously a name-caller, which has brought him those ethics complaints. With former president Benigno Aquino III, the senator was also accused of treason and espionage, over back-channel talks with China on the isles dispute. (The ombudsman dumped the complaint last April 17, saying treason is a war crime and espionage rap won’t stick on hearsay evidence.)
What to throw at Trillanes that would send him back to jail? Last Feb. 28, Solicitor General Jose Calida said he’d charge him with coddling two self-confessed hit-men, Arturo Lascaas and Edgar Matobato, who testified in the Senate that Duterte killed or ordered the death of a number of people when he was Davao City mayor. Calida still hasn’t made good his threat.
Duterte has been mad at Trillanes, dating back to the campaign when, as a candidate for vice president, Trillanes alleged that then presidential bet Digong had a cache of unexplained wealth at the bank. This time, Trillanes seeks to link Duterte’s son and son-in-law to the so-called “Davao Group” in the Sen. Ping Lacson expose on pay-offs at the Bureau of Customs.
‘Let it on’
Throw it all on Trillanes, if there’s real evidence against him, not fabricated or coerced from witnesses. The senator himself teases his enemies, notably the president: let it on, he says.
Be careful with what you wish for, senator. Presidents can be tenacious and vengeful: Noynoy Aquino pushed out a Supreme Court chief justice and an ombudsman and jailed three senators. Duterte locked up a senator and might be supporting the impeachment of the SC chief justice and the Comelec chairman even as he assailed the tenure of the ombudsman.
Good for Senate
Trillanes must know the risk he has been taking, which is more than the danger from the Oakwood and Manila Pen coups put together. Besides, who else would embrace that kind of risk? Would you rather not have at least one senator who’d dissent and give the nation the contrary view, the other story?
Dissent is good for democracy as long as it wouldn’t lead to civil unrest or a shooting war. Occasional clash of tongues (or dicks, metaphorically) in the Senate wouldn’t bring much harm, not even a deadlock in the vote.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 05, 2017.
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