"The former senator will be exposed as the political opportunist salivating for power that he really is."
As early as a year before the 2016 national elections, ex-Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has been styling himself as the political irritant to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Back in 2010, Trillanes was already publicly seen as a stooge of then President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Aquino’s predecessor, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, threw Trillanes in the stockade for leading a failed mutiny against her administration. At that time, Trillanes was an ambitious lieutenant in the Philippine Navy who disliked the way Arroyo ran the government.
Trillanes’ incarceration as a mutineer got him the sympathy of anti-Arroyo voters, enough for him to win a seat in the Senate in the 2007 elections. Despite his victory at the polls, however, Trillanes remained behind bars at a naval base, awaiting sentencing by a military court martial.
When Noynoy Aquino assumed the presidency in 2010 and portrayed himself as Arroyo’s nemesis, he ordered the release of Trillanes. Since then, Trillanes openly considered himself beholden to Noynoy forever.
In 2015, Trillanes realized that if Duterte, who was then the Mayor of Davao City, ran against Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, who was his master Noynoy’s bet for President in the 2016 elections, there was a very strong chance that Duterte will win, as shown by the latter’s undeniable popularity everywhere during the campaign.
Thus, Trillanes decided to focus all his efforts on discrediting Duterte in the eyes of the electorate. Trillanes began hitting Duterte with all sorts of accusations, including a hint that Duterte had millions stashed away in his bank account. Unfortunately for Trillanes, his demolition job failed miserably because he failed to substantiate his accusations.
Even before the 2016 campaign season, Trillanes was already suffering from a credibility problem because voters saw him as an ex-mutineer, which contradicts his soldier’s oath to support and defend the existing constitutional government. Thus, Trillanes’ failure to substantiate his accusations against President Duterte made the ex-mutineer lose whatever credibility he had left.
Trillanes had the temerity to run for vice president in 2016, but he landed in fifth place among six candidates. Because Trillanes could not even garner a million votes, and also because he did not have a presidential running mate, many voters considered him a directionless clown in a political circus of his own making.
When Trillanes was still an incumbent senator, he held regular press conferences, all at taxpayers’ expense, which served as his fora for hitting Duterte who, by late 2016, was already the President.
The news media also revealed that Trillanes hired several consultants, exceeding the maximum number allotted by law to his office. One consultant was his own brother. They were paid with public funds.
When Trillanes stepped down from power in 2019, his frequent press conferences paid with public money ceased. With no public funds to spend for his self-serving partisan political agenda against President Duterte, Trillanes settled for occasional anti-Duterte speeches covered by the media that needed filler materials for the day’s news.
As a senator, Trillanes did not hesitate to spend public funds for his press conferences. After leaving office in 2019 and with no public funds to squander on press conferences, Trillanes refused and continues to refuse to spend his own money to get him the publicity he was used to and longed for.
Last month, Trillanes announced that incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo will not seek the presidency in 2022, and that he will run in her stead. That announcement was, thereafter, quickly denied by the Robredo camp. Therefore, it was obvious that Trillanes would not hesitate to lie to the people just to regain political power.
On June 12, the fledgling political party of convenience called 1Sambayan publicly touted itself as the anti-administration group to challenge pro-Duterte candidates in next year’s elections. The group also announced that it is open to interested candidates.
When Trillanes offered himself as the group’s presidential bet, 1Sambayan’s handlers found themselves in a predicament.
As the 2022 election campaign draws near, President Duterte knows that he should not waste his time on the nuisance that is Trillanes. That is the likely reason why the President appointed Jacinto “Jing” Paras his new Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs.
Paras is a former Labor undersecretary of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office. I know him to be a formidable political ally of any sitting president. Being a seasoned politician with a keen sense of practical politics, and being a lawyer from the University of the Philippines, Paras is certain to keep Trillanes at bay.
Paras and Trillanes have been adversaries for quite some time. With public opinion on the side of President Duterte, Paras will easily trounce Trillanes and expose the ex-mutineer as the political opportunist salivating for power that he really is.