The harsh exchanges between Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV showcased to the public the good, the bad and the ugly, not only of the person, but what politics is all about.
What started to be a privilege speech by Trillanes on personal and political issues careened into an embarrassing subject that should have been better kept under wraps than being exposed for the international audience to see the recklessness and folly of our politicians when it comes to matters deserving of utmost confidentiality.
The clash between the two senators of the realm was not a classic battle of the titans, but rather, it was more a war of words between the impulsiveness of youth and the cautiousness of the overly matured; between a neophyte legislator and a veteran parliamentarian; between an amateur politician and a professional one, many times over; between the ambitious and the fulfilled.
At the end Trillanes, the inexperienced, stormed out of the session hall rattled up, after calling the Senate President a bully, while Enrile, the grizzled one, stayed behind, calling at the fading sight of Trillanes a coward.
But, that is going ahead of the story.
The national issue raised by Trillanes that made him call Enrile “a lackey of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA)” is not something new that we haven’t heard before. Trillanes, however, perceives that Enrile is pushing for approval of the controversial bill seeking to divide Camarines Sur province in time for the 2013 elections upon instigation of GMA.
Least we forget, anything that has got to do with GMA and family is anathema to Trillanes. After all, she was the reason for the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 standoff at the Manila Peninsula hotel in Makati City, where he called for GMA’s ouster. Whether you call all these patriotism or intrepidity, the fact is that he had to spend seven and a half years for it in jail.
No doubt the Oakwood incident has clearly defined who Trillanes is as a soldier and as a person. His lack of respect for authority and the learned, bordering on defiance and superiority, has been very glaring and despising.
Sad to say that this soldier turned politician haven’t learned to shed off these unfavorable traits and to this day continue to exhibit and flaunt it anywhere he goes. It even looks like that his narcissistic demeanor has gotten worst now that he is a senator of the realm.
For what better proof is there than when Trillanes himself confirmed that it was him who was behind the ouster move against Enrile, when speculations were rife that somebody wanted the latter to be unseated?
And so, while Trillanes was curtly disparaging at Enrile in his privilege speech, the latter had also prepared a bombshell that he wanted to drop on Trillanes face. And without much ado, he started questioning Trillanes about his role in the territorial dispute the country has with China.
Apparently, the animosity between Enrile and Trillanes over the issue with China started as early as May yet when the former asked the latter during a cabinet meeting, who authorized him to have secret talks with the Chinese officials. Trillanes resented this question.
“Wasn’t it your duty to notify the Office of the Senate President when you leave this country?” I don’t know how many times you have been to China but I recall six times? I am now hearing reports you were there 15 times,” Enrile asked.
“Are you becoming the fifth columnist of China in this country? Who paid for those trips to Beijing?” he further asked Trillanes.
Fifth columnist refers to a member of a clandestine subversive organization who tries to help a potential invader.
Surely, Enrile knows where he stands with regards to the senate rules and procedures involving the members of the senate, and clearly it shows Trillanes defying it.
The question now that is in most people’s mind is: Can Trillanes work as a subordinate or does he want to be the boss all the time?
Listen to what more Enrile has found from former Ambassador to China Sonia Brady’s notes about Trillanes in his pronouncements and show of disrespect for people of authority:
- That the Chinese wanted the Philippines to “tone down the rhetoric” on its incursion in Panatag Shoal.
- That Trillanes suspected that the United States was involved in creating tension in Panatag Shoal and that Del Rosario was “committing treason.”
- That Trillanes “was protecting the Chinese,” “was alarmist” and accused Del Rosario of “creating a war event.”
- That Trillanes asked businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, a close friend of Del Rosario, to advise the secretary “to keep quiet, to quiet down” apparently because the secretary held a press conference decrying Chinese presence in Panatag Shoal
- That Trillanes stated “no one cares about Panatag Shoal in the Philippines.”
- That Trillanes said the Philippines “cannot enforce coastal protection” since fishermen subsist only on fishing and cannot venture far out.
- That Trillanes boasted that he was able to make 40 Chinese ships leave Panatag Shoal.
- That Trillanes volunteered to become the “direct channel” between China and Malacañang.
At the end Enrile has this to say: “I do not want to discuss anymore this sordid matter. It is enough that I read the notes of Ambassador Brady to unmask this ‘Phantom of the Opera’ in Philippine politics. My God, this guy is a fraud.”
Fraud and, perhaps, a great pretender. Pretending to be an accomplished diplomat, a clever negotiator, a brilliant lawyer, and a bona fide mediator of disputes – all of which he is not. But, a high regarded coup plotter, yes.
So who is he to belittle the credentials of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and call him a traitor?
Indeed, this is one national issue that has gone international and awry.
What a shame.