MILITARY mutineer Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, and his Yellow gangmates, thought that President Duterte’s offensive against him would end up portraying him as a hapless victim and trigger people’s anger against the administration. What is happening is exactly the opposite.
Instead, Duterte’s move to have him thrown in jail for the coup attempts he led in 2003 and 2007—for which he has not admitted guilt—has become the event that would touch off the unleashing of the simmering outrage against the arrogant coup plotter, who was the discredited President Aquino’s most unprincipled attack dog.
Any netizen, or even an ordinary political observer reading social media, would incontrovertibly see the rage against Trillanes, which isn’t quite captured in traditional media. It is even more intense than the anger against Sen. Leila de Lima when she was arrested and thrown in jail, even if she was accused of the dastardly crime of colluding with drug lords. A few examples clearly showing the fury against Trillanes:
— “When you harass and embarrass president Duterte and his government, you called it democracy. But when government hits back and files charges against you, you called it political persecution….peste!!!!”
— “Nanira ka ng private and public properties, endangered the public, stolen some items during your little coup, then P-Noy gave you amnesty. That administration is really crazy then.”
— “Stop explaining in the media. Go out of the Senate building, face the police and then explain your side.”
Another CNN Philippines post was a video of Trillanes in an impromptu press conference. It had 173,000 views, and a remarkable 5,800 comments – almost all critical of and even cursing Trillanes. CNN Philippines has not had comments on such a scale, which is rare even on the US CNN’s wall.
This means that thousands of ordinary Filipino netizens took the time to express their anger at Trillanes, many even remembering his arrogance during the coup attempts he led. A few examples:
— “Gago open na nga eyes namin na naloko kami ng yellow. Ulol ka.”
— “It’s the bitter price you have been always longing to happen. Now it looks like you are drinking your own poison a painful karma rather. Face the music and rot in jail.”
— “I can’t wait to see you in jail, Trillanes, you deserve it… this is a call for celebration.”
— “If you kick the tiger’s balls, you better have a plan on how to deal with his teeth.” — Tom Clancy.”
Gone viral is another instance of Filipino humor: ”We are behind you. Laban lang Senator Trillanes. Nasa likod lang ang mga Pilipino at handang itulak ka hangggang sa kulungan.” (We are behind you Senator Trillanes, ready to push you into jail.)
Even his Senate colleagues’ reaction has been largely muted: Nobody there really likes him. They have perhaps learned from Sen. Ralph Recto’s statement made hours after the Duterte order nullifying Trillanes’ amnesty that inanely claimed that since the coup plotter was elected to the Senate twice, then he has been absolved of his “mischief.” After that statement was met with a barrage of insults, one of which pointed out that Recto wasn’t even a lawyer, the senator largely kept quiet on the issue.
I think Trillanes is doomed. While the Senate is a closely knit club, senators are selfish creatures who largely bow to the prevailing political wind, as jailed Sen. de Lima learned to her distress. Since her arrest and incarceration, even Trillanes and the Yellow Bam Aquino have hardly mentioned her in public or in the Senate. (I found it curious though that only two columnists, both from the Philippine Star — ultimately controlled by the Indonesian Anthoni Salim through PLDT — were critical of Duterte’s action, with one calling it a “brazen, half-wit move.”)
The outrage against Trillanes is due to several reasons.
First, he has been attacking a very popular president, Duterte, in ways obviously solely intended to blacken his image, and not to check his government for corruption nor improve its governance. Trillanes’ tirades against Duterte have been unprincipled and shrill, that few Filipinos believe him. Even Liberal Party stalwarts Franklin Drilon and Aquino have been more circumspect in criticizing Duterte. For Filipinos, Trillanes is simply a basagulero, a troublemaker in the Senate.
Second, while Filipinos traditionally admire opposition figures, seeing them as crusaders against a powerful government, Trillanes has been viewed not as a crusader but entirely Aquino’s mercenary, his attack dog. Even if he was with the Nacionalista Party (funded by the tycoon and former senator Villar and therefore not bound to party discipline of the Liberal Party,) he never criticized Aquino nor even any of his officials when the Yellows were in power.
Instead, Trillanes was at the head of lynch mobs Aquino had instigated against Arroyo, Chief Justice Renato Corona, former defense chief Angelo Reyes, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and then vice president Jojo Binay who in 2015 seemed to be the Yellow Cult’s main rival in winning the 2016 presidential elections.
The only Aquino official he went against was Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who refused to recognize his appointment as the president’s special negotiator on the Scarborough Shoal stand-off. Obviously, this is a man who retaliates viciously when his ego is pricked.
Duterte’s move to void the amnesty that Aquino had granted Trillanes made clear how the latter president managed to put a collar around Trillanes’ neck for him to do his bidding, other than the allegedly pecuniary reasons that the Yellow oligarchy could very well afford.
Aquino gave him amnesty for the 2003 Oakwood and 2007 Manila Peninsula coup attempt he led even if Trillanes had not admitted his guilt in this crime, contrary to the implementing rules of the 2010 amnesty proclamation
Trillanes application for amnesty cannot be found now. The logical reason is that Aquino hid it to ensure his loyalty. If Trillanes breaks away from him, Aquino could simply make public the application, point out that it didn’t contain his admission of the crime, accuse the defense department’s ad hoc committee that processed the application of inefficiency, and then order — as Duterte has now done — the amnesty voided.
The third reason for the public outrage against Trillanes is the character he has demonstrated in the 11 years since he was elected senator in 2007. In the public’s eyes, he is a narcissist and a megalomaniac, so different from the reserved, and circumspect coup leader Gregorio Honasan. This perception underlies the fact that the term “tililing”, filipino slang for “bonkers,” has gained much traction to refer to Trillanes.
He has shown not a hint of humility in his powerful post, has hardly demonstrated a concern for the poor, not even respect for his peers, as demonstrated vividly in his insults against the eldest senator a few years back, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.
Trillanes’ biggest flaw has been that of Aquino’s other minions like de Lima and former associate justice Lourdes Sereno: hubris.
Trillanes believes in his heart that he is destined to lead the country. In the only interview I had with him in 2015, I was struck by his confidence when he matter-of-factly said he would be president after his Senate stint. Inconceivable to him was the fact that he became senator not because of his qualifications, but because of the Yellow Cult’s very successful mob against Arroyo which, him being the coup plotter, put him at the head of it. With the defeat the Yellow Cult, and the dissipation of that mob — many now know that they were simply fooled — Trillanes has lost all bases to deserve his Senate post.
What many Filipinos remember of Trillanes is his arrogance during Senate investigations, in which he would characteristically threaten someone: “Ipakukulong kita.” He even audaciously remarked that he would one day throw Duterte himself in jail for unexplained wealth.
He never got to put anybody in jail. It is turning out that soon, it is he who will be thrown in jail.