THE Indonesian Anthoni Salim’s conglomerate in the country, which has been falsely portrayed as owned by his main executive Manuel V. Pangilinan, appears to have decided to fight President Duterte, who has threatened to take Maynilad Water Services Inc. from them over its contracts deemed to be onerous to the government and consumers.
On Saturday, TV5 cable TV — which Salim controls through PLDT Inc.’s pension fund — converted one of its talk show programs into a propaganda arm for two anti-Duterte political figures, losing presidential candidate and Yellow leader Manuel Roxas 2nd and the Yellows’ attack dog, former senator Antonio Trillanes 4th.
Evading the constitutional ban on the slightest participation of foreigners in media, Salim’s Hong Kong-based First Pacific has managed to build up what could arguably be the biggest multimedia conglomerate in the country that includes the Philippine Star, Business World, TV5, two dozens of radio stations and cable TV company Cignal.
In the interview, the failed two-time putschist called President Rodrigo Duterte a “psycho.” He claimed that toppling him should be the Filipinos’ crusade now.
The talk show just before the Trillanes interview, without any explanation as to why it was being aired at this time, rebroadcast a lengthy one-on-one interview with Roxas — the “Anointed” — that was aired a month before the 2016 presidential elections, in which a shameless and servile interviewer let him rant on and on about his party’s “Daang Matuwid” rubbish and fake accomplishments of the Benigno Aquino 3rd administration. I thought I felt into a worm hole to go back in time to view again that garbage.
Worse, though, for its fawning servility was the obsequious interview with Trillanes by talk show host Tony Abad, who had a constant dopey smile on his face throughout the interview as if he feared or was smitten by Trillanes. Through his questions, he portrayed the megalomaniac as a hero who courageously fought for democracy against two “regimes.”
For somebody who is the academe teaching law,” it was suprising Abad several times addressed Trillanes, who has been handling two courses at the Ateneo and University of the Philippines (UP) as “Professor Trillanes.”
This lawyer is obviously ignorant (or maybe head-over-heels over Trillanes) of the fact that a person can be called a professor only if he has been awarded that academic rank by the university’s board of regents (or directors) after doing research and teaching for many years, and after getting a PhD and publishing at least one peer-reviewed book.
For Chrissake, this clumsy, failed putschist is a mere visiting lecturer, a temporary position that pays a pittance, whom the anti-Duterte rulers of Ateneo and the UP took in to spite the President and give him a soap box to stand on and paint himself as somebody with a mind.
Abad does lucrative work as a consultant to many corporations on how to deal with government. He is only ruining his reputation, since his interview with Trillanes was so obsequious that it could only be explained as due to two and only two things: that he is astonishingly uninformed, dull or awed by people like Trillanes (or all of the above); and he has been given a handsome fee by Trillanes, or whoever is backing him, to conduct such a toadying interview.
I am not exaggerating at all. Consider the following disgusting aspects of the interview.
1. Trillanes claimed that he and his gang undertook the failed Oakwood Mutiny (in which they forcibly occupied a five-star hotel in Makati in 2003 ostensibly to protest corruption in the military) was triggered by one of their comrades’ report that he was ordered by his superior to throw grenades at a mosque to foment chaos in Cotabato City in the Muslim-dominated area. Trillanes claimed that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself knew about this, and was part of the conspiracy.
Abad just nodded and smiled stupidly at this old Trillanes lie that he shockingly continues to spread to this day. He occupied the powerful post of senator for many years. How could he not have disclosed who this comrade of his was, and who gave him that very criminal order to bomb a mosque?
What gets my goat is that Abad at the time was a trusted official of Arroyo, and he knew what was going on at the time: Trillanes very foolishly thought that he could spark a People Power revolution in the way Enrile and Ramos did when they holed up in Camp Crame in 1986.
In his delusion, he believed that the Yellows, even then-Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, would mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to surround Oakwood to protect him. Trillanes of course cleverly chose not a spartanly furnished military camp to make his stand, but a comfortable five-star hotel that had all its steaks and Scotch whiskeys consumed in the 18 hours they were holed up there.
2. Trillanes claimed that he prevented Scarborough Shoal from being occupied by China as a result of his back-channel talks with Chinese leaders as Aquino 3rd’s personal envoy and that he got “over a hundred” Chinese vessels out of the area’s lagoon.
Trillanes is clearly deluded. Former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and Aquino bungled and ordered our ships to leave the shoal in that stand-off in 2012, allowing the Chinese to occupy it. To this day, Chinese government vessels control the shoal. Trillanes emboldened the Chinese to do so as he bragged that it was he, and not del Rosario, whom Aquino had authorized to negotiate with them. He confirmed to Aquino an American diplomat’s lie told to del Rosario that the Chinese and Filipino ships would leave simultaneously. The Chinese of course cleverly didn’t.
Abad just nodded his head and smiled mindlessly to this Trillanes lie.
3. In the past several months, there has been much evidence that has come out, even provided by eyewitnesses, that Trillanes was the architect of the so-called “Bikoy” videos that falsely alleged that Duterte and his family were being paid huge bribes by drug orders. That was intended to blacken Duterte’s image so that people wouldn’t vote for his candidates, especially for the Senate, in the last elections.
Only a few weeks ago, the lawyer who filed the case at the International Court of Justice against Duterte, accusing him of “crimes against humanity” for the casualties in his anti-drug war, withdrew the charges and claimed it was just part of Trillanes’ plot against the President. He claimed Trillanes had not been paying his lawyer’s fees.
Yet Abad didn’t ask Trillanes a single question about these allegations. Instead he asked Trillanes inane questions like “what he does in his spare time” (“He watches Netflix,” they laugh), or what gives him happiness (“Eating out with his family and going to movies”).
I have written so many columns and a book (Colossal Deception, available at amazon.com) that exposed in detail how a foreigner like Salim could build such a huge multi-media conglomerate in the country, banned under our Constitution. Neither Salim nor his representatives have contested these claims.
I also explained that for a tycoon, media is like a gun in his holster, an implicit threat that competitors and even government shouldn’t mess with him. I think Salim has now taken the gun out of its holster, or is at least trying it out.
Is Salim sending the message that he can throw his full support behind Trillanes if Duterte continues to threaten his company?