I actually sympathize with Senator Antonio Trillanes, up to a point. But only up to a point.
Someone has to do the job of being in the opposition in a democracy, which, last I checked, we still are. Someone has to stand up to Malacañang and the majority in Congress, to point out what they are doing wrong, with a view to correcting them.
As someone who has made a living observing the government and criticizing it, I understand what Trillanes is doing and why it is necessary. What I don’t understand is why Trillanes can’t even be good at being a critic, despite his regular practice.
If I may hazard a comparison, Trillanes is about as good a critic as he is a coup plotter. He makes a lot of noise and threatens a lot of people, but in the end, he only knows one way of doing things, which is why he keeps failing.
The problem with Trillanes is that he has fallen into the trap of insanity, as defined by no less than Albert Einstein. “The definition of insanity,” according to the quote attributed to the man hailed as one of the greatest minds of the previous century, “is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
From the very beginning of his positioning as the arch-critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, Trillanes has always used the same modus operandi: He will pounce on anything that will, no matter how remotely, link Duterte, his administration or even his kin, to scandal—but he never produces anything approaching proof or even reliable witnesses not named Matobato.
As it was when he declared during last year’s campaign that Duterte kept billions of pesos in an Ortigas-area bank branch (a claim that he could not even back up with one bank account number by way of proof), all the way to yesterday, when he accused his own colleagues of absolving Duterte when they would not summon witnesses on the basis of hearsay in the Customs investigation, Trillanes has not changed his ways. And, in all likelihood, he will continue to stick to his strategy in the future, never mind if no one actually believes him any more than they do Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.
I think Trillanes is still stuck in the past, specifically his one “successful” use of his strategy of bullying and shaming without proving anything—when he was able to make the late former Armed Forces chief General Angelo Reyes kill himself in February 2011. Trillanes embarrassed Reyes so badly at a Senate hearing earlier that the former military chief and multiple Cabinet-level office-holder went to his mother’s grave and shot himself in the heart.
But since then, Trillanes’ record as a crusading senator has not been marred by a single victory, just like his record as a military putschist involved in not one but two failed uprisings. And yet he continues to soldier on, considering each debacle an unqualified victory, like his universally acknowledged meltdown in a BBC interview, which he described as one of the greatest moments of his life.
Trillanes’ job is indispensable in a democracy, as I’ve already said. I only wish there were someone else less insane and more diligent in doing opposition work to do it, so the anti-Dutertes can have someone they can really be proud of.
If Trillanes is the best that the political opposition can offer by way of criticism to Duterte, then the administration will have nothing to fear. Even if, in some really crazy moment, Trillanes decides to take up arms once again.
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Senator Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, also indulged in a temporary leave of his senses at the Senate yesterday, when he demanded to know from Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre during a budget hearing if Aguirre was the source of my report that an offer of P2 million was made to Saldy and Lorenza delos Santos by people who wanted to bring down the president. Aguirre explained to Drilon, as I already have in multiple platforms, that he merely confirmed to me that he had indeed heard of such reports, but was in no way its source.
I have nothing really new to add to this story, just like the people who once shouted to the high heavens demanding justice of the couple’s slain son, Kian, but who have suddenly taken a vow of silence. I only wish to say that neither Aguirre nor I have ever said that people identified with Drilon’s Liberal Party made the offer of money to the boy’s family.
It is only the LP that has concluded that the justice secretary had linked the party to the alleged bribery attempt. Now, as the Filipino saying goes, they have apparently decided to become terrified of a ghost of their own own making.
I don’t know if Drilon really wanted to pursue his line of questioning, and nobody probably ever will. That’s because Trillanes once again took the opportunity to harangue Aguirre about controversial statements made by the Justice secretary on other occasions previously, thereby hijacking what could have been a more through probe of the bribe report.
That’s just how Trillanes rolls, after all. And I really don’t know if his handlers and confederates have already decided if they will continue supporting him or simply die of shame on the spot.