Why do we allow Trillanes to do this?

Three weeks ago, Senator Antonio Trillanes 3rd announced in a news conference he had two witnesses who would testify that two Court of Appeals justices received P25 million each in bribes to stop the suspension of Makati mayor Junjun Binay, Jr.

Note: “Witnesses” means persons who saw the P25 million handed over to the recipients. Note: Trillanes is accusing two justices of the Court of Appeals, by rank second only to the Supreme Court. Note: He is accusing not just a mayor, but the son of the second highest official of the land, the Vice President

The Philippine Daily Inquirer and other broadsheets the next day put Trillanes’ accusations in screaming banner headlines. I would think most of their readers wouldn’t even remember that Trillanes never produced those witnesses.

Three weeks have passed, and Trillanes hasn’t produced a single witness, not even any new evidence to back his accusations against, for chrissakes, members of the Court of Appeals.

In that press conference he boasted: “I will show the pattern of behavior, the TROs, the frequency, the flip-flopping decisions (of these justices). We will show all these. We will comb through their previous decisions.”

Three weeks later he hasn’t done that, and, of course, he hasn’t proven any of his claims. Trillanes’ accusations and boasts aren’t really surprising.

So where are they? Newspaper banner headline three weeks ago.
So where are they? Newspaper banner headline three weeks ago.

More than a decade ago, he risked the lives of his comrade-in-arms, took over a hotel at the country’s premier financial district, and shattered political stability by calling on the armed forces and the people at large to topple President Gloria Arroyo’s government through violence.

His reason for the revolt? He claimed he had evidence as a Navy officer that Arroyo and her officials were overpricing Navy supplies. Years later, and armed with the power of a Senator of the Republic, Trillanes hasn’t produced a single piece of paper to support his allegations.

Why on earth does our nation put up with this mad dog who hurls accusations left and right, and damages a basic institution of our Republic, the judiciary.

“Pakukulong ko sila [I’ll send them to jail]:” That’s a usual Trillanes threat. Who does this guy think he is?

I wouldn’t want to repeat his lies here so I won’t mention his claims. But has he provided even an iota of evidence to back his allegations as stated in the screaming newspaper headlines that have recklessly impugned the integrity of the people he mentioned?

Why doesn’t the Senate censure him for making the legislative body look like a gang that respects no one, including a co-equal branch of government?

I guess being jailed, as Trillanes had been, affects people differently. The trapo (traditional politician) Ninoy Aquino became an idealist, for example, and Mandela found in his heart the ability to forgive. However, in Hitler’s – and I suspect Trillanes’ – case, incarceration turned them into megalomaniacs.

What kind of a country have we become when nobody in the “august” Senate confronts this irresponsible finger-pointer, and makes him accountable for his wild accusations?

* * *

Out of the five members of President Benigno S. Aquino’s Citizens’ Peace Council, only two bothered to appear before the Senate hearing to present the findings they miraculously came up with in just 13 working days.

As usual, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala was “out of town.” Nothing, of course, is more important than his business meetings. Cardinal Tagle and former Ambassador to the Vatican Howard Dee, former president Corazon Aquino’s “balae,” didn’t bother to explain why they couldn’t make it. In fact, I haven’t heard a single word from Cardinal Tagle explaining his views on the BBL.

Even Ayala’s first “designated” representative, Cielito Habito, abandoned his post after one appearance at the Congress hearing. The tycoon had to designate another representative, former economic planning chief Cayetano Paderanga, who knows nothing about the Muslim problem. Only former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, whose son is Cebu governor and badly needs Aquino’s support for his reelection, and Bai Sumnad-Usman, whose qualification is that she founded a mostly unheard of “Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement.”

I nearly fell off my seat upon learning of the explanation given by several of the “Peace Council” representatives why they support the parliamentary system proposed for adoption by the BM government.

Usman, Bishop Quevedo, Jesuit priest Joel Tabora and, surprisingly, former Comelec chairman Christian Monsod, all said that direct voting for the head of the BM government wouldn’t work, as warlords and other unscrupulous politicians had managed to manipulate the masses in Muslim Mindanao.

Usman even quoted her lolo, a sultan she said, as telling her that the old sultanate system was better. Quevedo and Tabora claimed that a more appropriate system of governance for Muslims is by having some form of a Council of Elders consisting of datus.

These people don’t realize how crazy they sound: They are advocating a return to old feudal systems of elite dominance. There is nothing romantic about the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao of the 19th century. They even involved piracy and slavery, and of course, rule by sheer birthright.

Haven’t they heard that democracy was invented two centuries ago, and that even if there are parliamentary systems, direct voting is still considered a modern democratic experiment, a faith in the reasoning faculties of each citizen?

The real reason for the poverty of Muslims in Mindanao is not exploitation by Christian Luzon, but the corruption of Muslim politicians. Much of the former Muslim-held territory was not “grabbed” by Christians from the Visayas and Luzon. Datus and sub-datus let these parcels of land be used by settlers and copra traders, for huge fees of course.

Have you ever met a poor Muslim governor or congressman?