Democracy is alive and well in the Philippines, Trillanes tried to kill it twice

Thursday September 27, 2018 ()

The important thing to remember about Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is that the issuance of the arrest warrant against him is not, as he claims, the death knell of democracy. Quite to the contrary, it was Trillanes who tried to kill democracy by attempting to overthrow the legitimate government – twice.

But then, Trillanes and his Yellow confederates have always had a selective, distorted worldview. If something happens that is in their favor, they welcome it like the Second Coming; if it isn't, then it spells the death of democracy, among other end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenarios.

It doesn't matter that Trillanes was granted bail by the Makati court that is hearing the charges of rebellion against him, simultaneous with the issuance of the arrest warrant. Or that Trillanes remains holed up in the Senate, safe from the phantoms that he says are out to get him as soon as he steps out of the chamber's secure confines.

Trillanes arrest

Indeed, if democracy truly died with the issuance by a functioning court system of a warrant of arrest against a senator, then Trillanes can be reasonably expected to have died with it. But Trillanes is still holding his daily press conferences in his natty suits and his perfectly coiffed hair, a walking, interminably talking testimony to the existence of a democracy where he can basically say anything about President Rodrigo Duterte without fear of being hauled to jail.

For instance, while he is enjoying his "staycation" at the Senate, Trillanes made the outrageous claim that Duterte's father fixed the president's bar exam results. Trillanes' out-and-out lie, which thankfully is no longer being repeated by a mainstream press that inexplicably hangs on to and publishes every word he says, was immediately exposed by simple fact-checking, which showed that Duterte's father died several years before his son even took the bar exam.

As for "political persecution", Trillanes and his Yellow fellow travelers should be the last ones to claim being victimized by their foes, after what they did during the term of their idol, Noynoy Aquino. That Aquino himself is free to go in and out of his man-cave on Times Street and to talk nonsense from time to time is proof that the Duterte administration is not engaged in the sort of vendetta politics that Noynoy reveled in and which led to the persecution by state agencies of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Chief Justice Renato Corona, down to the very last low-level bureaucrat that Aquino considered his enemy.

As I write this, for instance, Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo has just concluded a press conference where she claimed that the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which is hearing the two-year-old election protest filed against her by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has upheld her camp's contention that 25 percent shading is enough on any ballot to count as a vote in her favor. If democracy had truly died, Malacañang would not be declaring that it would respect the decision of the Supreme Court sitting as the PET, which is being presided over by a longtime classmate of Aquino's at Ateneo de Manila.

(Speaking of these two cases, I wonder if Trillanes' and Robredo's mutual patron Noynoy still thinks that the judiciary has been overreaching its authority and must be slapped down. Probably not – but that doesn't mean that he will not once again open his mouth in ignorant protest, like when he heard about former senator Juan Ponce Enrile's revelations about the declaration of martial law in 1972.)

Personally, I really would much rather that Trillanes, who is about to lose his Senate bully pulpit next year and is barred from running for reelection, is merely ignored and consigned to the dustbin of history. The man has absolutely no credibility and is kept at arm's length even by his own Yellow peers, who consider him too much of a political zealot and an uncontrollable loose cannon.

But I guess when you've made as many enemies as Trillanes has, some effort must be made to show that he can't keep doing what he's been doing without some sort of punishment. But killing democracy in order to make Trillanes – of all people – account for his previous and current crimes?

That's certainly a stretch. It's an idea than can only come from the febrile mind of a self-important, paranoid coward like Trillanes.

But what's done is done, even if Trillanes and the Yellows declare that what's been done has killed democracy once again. (Democracy, by their reckoning, must be like a cat with nine lives that refuses to stay dead after so many fatal attacks on it.)

Let Trillanes enjoy what remains of his Senate term. Because I'm guessing that once he steps down from the Senate, he will become like that other Yellow who was removed from office to the accompaniment of much weeping and gnashing of teeth about democracy's death — Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was yanked out of her exalted post as Supreme Court chief justice but is now basically a political non-entity.

Trillanes will likewise fade into oblivion, stalking press forums and school tours, expecting to be called to speak at length on matters that he used to bloviate about as a rabid-dog opposition senator, in vain. I am certain that a year from now, Trillanes will not even be mentioned as among the heavy hitters of the ragtag opposition that up to now cannot even find a champion to cross swords publicly with Duterte.

So, enjoy the limelight while you can, Sonny Boy. In a few months, you will find that people will not even comment on your GQ suits and greaser hair, because you will have morphed into what you really are – a noisy, irrelevant politician whose time has passed and who is no longer even worth mentioning in any serious political conversation.


  • Democracy is alive, but Sonny won't be, Jojo Robles, September 27, 2018, The Manila Times


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