Electing senators in 2019 and beyond


Senatorial positions are again at stake in the upcoming May 2019 elections and this early we are already seeing political parties either floating or identifying names of candidates that could at best boost and make appealing the image of their party to insure political gains.

Sadly and disturbingly, however, some political party leaders continue resisting in adapting better ways of promoting the embodiment of their respective parties, like selecting candidates with impeccable character and tract record, but rather contented, as usual, with representations that leave voters aghast and wondering whether or not their candidates could make a difference in the country’s future.

The motivation in doing so simply points to the fact that what is really promoted is the self-serving interest and survival of the party as oppose to what it should be which is putting the welfare of the country first and foremost over any other political consideration.

For decades now we had been seeing presidents come and go, yet their lack of strong leadership has failed this country such that we see ourselves always lagging behind among our neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

I am sure other countries have the same continuing inherent problems that we had been confronting all these years, like corruption, criminality, insurgency and illegal drugs, for that matter, but the lack of courage, resolve and political will from those we have elected to lead our country have always been our downfall.

We have finally come to realize that electing a traditional politician (trapo) to be at the helm of government is not the answer to our political, economic and social woes and this was proven when the Filipinos overwhelmingly opted to elect the unconventional Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as president in 2016.

Compared to past presidents Duterte stands head and shoulders over his predecessors, even as he finds himself only in his third year in office, in the way he has governed and positioned the country in the world stage.

The fact that Duterte has maintained a high trust and satisfaction rating to this day simply means that his leadership is acceptable and, thus, has won the moral ascendancy to continue guiding the country the way he sees fit until he could turn it around for the better.

Having said that, it now behooves on us all to extend to Duterte our full support/cooperation and ensure that we elect senators in 2019 whose integrity and competence are beyond question so that they could ably assist the president in making his plans come true for the country.

All I am saying, therefore, is let us not become victims anymore of their chicanery and finally put a stop of recycling former senators whose celebrity status and/or notorious reputation are their only means of getting elected, but whose integrity, competence and dedication remains suspicious at best and at worst, ineffective, as gleaned from their past performances.

It is about time we make choices for senators whose ideas could integrate with Duterte’s plan of making a meaningful and lasting difference for the country and in the lives of the greater number of Filipinos.

Duterte’s incorruptible and resolute leadership is being noticed in the community of nations and it is only appropriate, as it is reasonable, that those who we elect as senators in 2019 and beyond to write and pass laws, approve presidential appointments, etc., are equally sincere, reliable and competent.



High satisfaction rating for a thinking president

Amb. Teddy Locsin, Jr. and Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.

I could not agree more at the way the country’s current ambassador to the United Nations, Teddy Locsin, Jr., described Pres. Rodrigo Duterte as a thinking president.

Locsin was quoted to have issued the following statement about Duterte, saying: “Let us make the effort to think as hard as he does. He is old. I sense he is tired. But he is resolved that, while there is breath in him, not just to talk change like past presidents, but make change. And die in the trying.” If we do not take advantage of this man’s leadership, we shall miss our last chance of real change.”

The ever erudite and eloquent Locsin, who penned a moving and much applauded speech delivered by then president Corazon Aquino before a joint session of the United States Congress in September of 1986, seven months after dictator Ferdinand Marcos was deposed and booted out of the country, may be the exact opposite of Duterte, yet in more ways than one both belong to the same pea pod.

It is the similarity of their persona, their attitude towards public service and their patriotism that has brought these two men together, undoubtedly.

In the same manner that I relish Locsin’s journalistic prowess and miss listening his editorial segment titled “Teditorial” for ANC’s nightly newscast, The World Tonight, I won’t mince words that I am also an ardent supporter of President Duterte and his administration.

It is both Duterte and Locsin’s seemingly similar temperament, their knowledge, their strong will and no nonsense approach, and their acerbic language, when needed to be spoken, that make them hold each other in high regard and, importantly, what makes Duterte tick with the Filipino people.

It should not surprise no one, therefore, that Duterte continues to enjoy high satisfaction rating despite his controversial statements being uttered like, “God is stupid”, or that “there are many rape cases in Davao City because of the many beautiful women living there.”

Quite a number of people and some sectors of society may be offended and political opponents may take advantage in lambasting Duterte for their own political expediency, but is being presidential more important than thinking about what is good for the country and its people?

This is what is paramount to every well-meaning president and fortunately Duterte’s dedication and competence cannot be questioned, thus, he continues receiving high satisfaction rating because majority of Filipinos have never given up their trust and confidence that the president could turn around the country for the better during his watch.

Perhaps, Locsin was right when he further said about Duterte that, “If we do not take advantage of this man’s leadership, we shall miss our last chance of real change.”

What dire consequence, indeed!



A living political martyr


It was not too long ago that a running controversy erupted between Sen. Antonio Trillanes and Pres. Rodrigo Duterte as to who was the smarter of the two.

Well, if Duterte kept his cool and exercised prudence, as his office expects him to do, people would have continued believing that he was the more intelligent.

Alas, Duterte got the better of his unbridled emotions, after Solicitor General Jose Calida reported his covert discovery that the amnesty granted to Trillanes in 2011 by then president Benigno Aquino III, for leading the Oakwood mutiny in 2003 and the Manila Peninsula siege in 2007, was defective.

Immediately, Duterte issued Proclamation 572, declaring the amnesty “void ab initio,” for supposedly having failed to comply with two requirements for its granting, namely, (1) application for amnesty and (2) admission of guilt.

There is no doubt in the minds of many who has been following how Duterte and Trillanes have been feuding that each has been laying traps for the other to fall into.

It looks like this time the foxy Trillanes has been able to successfully snared Duterte first, for how else would you describe it when it is Trillanes now who is accusing Duterte’s point man, Calida, of “stealing” his amnesty application documents following these statements:  “I am calling on the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense, particularly AFP’s J1. They knew that I applied. They knew that I have the documents. Why did they allow Mr Calida to take it and lose it?”

Indeed, what a turn of events!

But does this mean that Trillanes has now the upper hand against Duterte despite being out on bail after Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 ordered his arrest that brought him to the Makati City Central Police Station for booking procedures, while still making his office at the senate building his home?

That could be anybody’s guess, but one thing sure is that this turn of events has given Trillanes even more opportunity to be basking in the lime light which he enjoys doing.

This has always been Trillanes’s game plan – to be the center of attention – as a renegade soldier and now a controversial senator.

Remember the verbal tussles he had had with his peers, the likes of Sen. Zubiri, Sen. Gordon, Sen. Cayetano, and even former Sen. Enrile, when the latter was still active?

Trillanes always comes out strutting like a peacock after these episodes for having caught the attention of people and the same thing is happening now against Duterte. All ears and eyes are directed towards him, yet again.

Indeed, this is a classic case of how one is made a living political martyr, perhaps to the realization and consternation of Duterte.


Distorting history at will


Marcos-Enrile tete-a-tete on the eve of the 46th anniversary of Martial Law.

Much has been said about the televised cozy chat between the ousted dictator’s son and namesake Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on the eve of the 46th anniversary of Martial Law, which was for all intents and purposes a ploy to rewrite the brutal notes of history to sooth the ears of the Marcos heirs and those of the millennials, whom they think are clueless, and, thus, sympathetic to their plight.

So, who would be Bongbong’s preferred guest but the maestro himself, Enrile, then the Defense minister, who orchestrated and implemented the now infamous Proclamation 1081, starting with his own egregious claim that an attempt was made to assassinate him.

Whichever way one looks at the interview, however, it was a dud because no matter how Enrile distorted events at will to please the young interviewer, the dark years of the Marcos regime has been etched in stone and firmly established in the annals of Philippine history.

What made the tete-a-tete even more absurd and distasteful, to say the least, is that at his dotage Enrile allowed himself to be used even as history considers him, along with Fidel Ramos, then director of both the Philippine Constabulary (PC) and Philippine Integrated Police (PIP), a hero of the EDSA Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

Perhaps Marcos, the interviewer, succeeded in having Enrile spill the beams the way he wanted it to hear, but no one can deny that it was all staged at the expense of those still feeling the atrocities committed by the despot Marcos and those still yearning to see the “disaparecidos” – the missing ones.

We are fortunate that to this day we still have in our midst victims and patriots in their own rights whose lucidity can’t yet be questioned like former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., former senator Rene Saguisag, and former senator Heherson Alvarez, among others, who not only vehemently deny but has the courage to denounce the untruthful utterances of Enrile. They also represent the muted voices of the poor and deeply aggrieved Filipinos.

Those of us who have experienced, one way or another, the anxiety and fear of the martial law years will continue to speak adversely about it with conviction and go on denouncing the unrepentant  Marcos heirs who are now back in their glory days.

To the millennials who still find themselves in dilemma as to what the truth really is before, during and after martial law in the country, do not listen to interviews conducted by the Marcoses themselves for it is not only self-serving but more than anything it is an affront to your intelligence.

Read authentic Philippine history or any reliable source about the Marcos regime. That is all there is to it.


Trillanes’ cowardice


Senator Antonio Trillanes

For somebody like Senator Antonio Trillanes, who gloats about being a crusader against corrupt government officials, including his mistahs in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), one would think that he would also be the epitome of fearlessness as a leader.

If Trillanes thinks he has stirred a hornet’s nest in exposing the nefarious activities of no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, after the latter issued Proclamation 572 voiding the amnesty granted Trillanes by then President Benigno Aquino for leading the infamous 2003 Oakwood mutiny and 2007 Manila Peninsula siege, then he should bravely face the consequences of his action.

If Trillanes firmly believes that he is being politically persecuted for being a fierce critic of Duterte’s style of governance then, by all means, he should show to the Filipinos the stuff he is made of and convince the people that he is better person than Duterte.

There is nothing more dismaying, therefore, than seeing a pretentious soldier turned senator who makes the senate floor not only as haven for parliamentary immunity from fiery exposes, but uses it as well as physical structure for his safety and security.

Such is what is happening now to Trillanes who has been staying in the Senate building since Proclamation 572 stated that the amnesty granted was “void ab initio” or invalid from the beginning as the senator supposedly failed to comply with two requirements for the granting of amnesty: (1) application for amnesty and (2) admission of guilt.

Obviously Trillanes’ own forced confinement in the Senate building is to avoid arrest even as the leaders of the military and police forces have given their assurances that no apprehensions be done unless there exist a warrant for his arrest.

In curtailing his own freedom, Trillanes is showing utter cowardice, even as his stature is being seen by many as a political martyr.

What a shame!

Duterte wrong in making Trillanes a political martyr


Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Antonio Trillanes

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.



Performance over intelligence

Sen. Antonio Trillanes and Pres. Rodrigo Duterte

In this day and age, Philippine politics is no longer about a candidate’s brilliant mind being noticed and catapulted to political stardom. It is now a free-for-all and it is not doing the country any good.

If the millennials are part of this readership, I would refer them to the era of the intellectual giants where the likes of Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Sumulong, Ambrosio Padilla, the Tañadas, the Pelaez’, the Tolentinos, the Manglapus, the Rodrigos, Gerardo Roxas, Jovito Salonga, Benigno Aquino Jr., among others, and even Ferdinand Marcos, who later became a dictator, graced the august body of the Senate not with their bloated egos, but with their brilliance and gift of gab.

Except for Marcos whose brutal regime ended disastrously for the country and its people, the other illustrious names mentioned above could have done a better job as president of the country but, alas, it never was their destiny to lead.  Or how could they when Marcos stifled their chances of becoming one.

Politics in this country evolved into one that has kept us thinking if we could do any better than electing movie stars, TV personalities, military people and others that have earned notoriety for one reason or another to the Senate and catapulting them to the presidency.

But more than the glaring flaw of the candidates in this new era, we can only blame the electorate for accepting and embracing the inadequacies of our present politicians and trusting them to lead us to nirvana.

Thus, in this day and age, performance matters more than the intelligence of any politician.

It is not therefore whether President Rodrigo Duterte is more intelligent than Senator Antonio Trillanes, or vice versa. I just find this argument childish, if not absurd.

Between the two we could only ask whose performance is impacting the nation today?

It should sink in Trillanes’ head by now that Duterte won the presidency because of his performance as Davao City mayor and his mission and vision to do the same to the country as a whole. His term is not yet over so we will see and give him the benefit of the doubt.

But it should even sink more in Trillanes’ head by now that his unsuccessful run for the vice presidency in 2016, placing 5th among the 6 candidates, speaks volume of the kind of person he is and his uneventful performance as a politician.