President Rodrigo Duterte may be a shrewd politician but his promulgation this time of Proclamation 572 ordering the police and the military to file criminal and administrative cases against Sen. Antonio Trillanes in connection with his involvement in 2003 Oakwood mutiny and 2007 Manila Peninsula siege is a grieve mistake that he will come to regret later.
There is no doubt that Trillanes has been a thorn in Duterte’s side ever since the latter thwarted the former’s political ambition of becoming his vice presidential running mate during the 2016 presidential election.
As swell-headed as Trillanes is as a politician, he recognized earlier the ‘bankability’ of Duterte as a presidential candidate and being a heartbeat away from the presidency was where he wanted himself positioned. It was for political expediency, pure and simple.
Duterte, however, know who Trillanes is and the latter’s military adventurism in the early 2000 may not have sit well with him, and neither his performance as a senator impressed him, thus he deemed Trillanes more as a baggage that could drag him down in the polls and therefore unacceptable.
This rebuff from Duterte did not deter Trillanes from running as an independent candidate and true enough he suffered the worst beating of his political career placing 5th among the 6 vice presidential aspirants.
To the cavalier Trillanes this humiliating defeat made him, along with another shamed senator, Leila de Lima, Duterte’s fiercest critics, with the former even going after the president’s children.
Of course we know how Trillanes got catapulted to the political limelight – his notoriety as leader of the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege which both aimed to overthrow the Arroyo administration.
Knowing at the time that the Filipinos were starting to get disgruntled with the corrupt administration of then Pres. Gloria Arroyo, Trillanes took advantage of the situation by playing with the emotions of the people, even as he faced serious rebellion charges, by declaring himself a candidate for senator in 2007.
Known for having affinity for underdogs, the Filipino people elected Trillanes senator of the realm even as his incarceration prevented him from going around the country campaigning.
Trillanes formally became a senator when President Benigno Aquino III, with the concurrence of Congress, granted him and at least 38 of his fellow Magdalo soldiers amnesty in December 2010. He was reelected to a second Senate term in 2013 and will remain as senator until his term ends in 2019.
But the nation finds itself once again in bedlam now as Duterte, through proclamation 572, has voided the amnesty given to Trillanes 8 years ago claiming it illegal from the very beginning.
Why, if Trillanes is indeed a pain in the ass for Duterte, does the senator have to be silenced this way? Does this not smack of political persecution?
This is why at the outset I said that Duterte may regret later to have taken this action because this kind of political repression only elevates and favorably changes the perception of the people about Trillanes.
It is because of Duterte’s high popularity and trust ratings that Trillanes has been preparing for his political demise.
But that seems to be changing now as Proclamation 572 is helping Trillanes regain his popularity and will be around for much longer to continue being Duterte’s tormentor.
This is the price Duterte has to pay for making Trillanes a political martyr.