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.

 

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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.

 

Cambridge Analytica a non-factor in electing Duterte president

Long before Cambridge Analytica, a British political data firm, got embroiled in controversy of scandalous proportion when it was alleged to have secretly and inappropriately made a Facebook data breach and harvested personal contents from some 87 million users, including, it said, over a million in the Philippines, to influence the country’s 2016 presidential election result, the way it is said to have catapulted America’s Donald Trump to the presidency, the majority of the Filipino people by then had already decided that, for a change, they will no longer be voting for a traditional politician.

It was no surprise therefore that when then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte finally declared his candidacy for president, the Filipinos went crazy rooting for him. Their prayers were answered. They now had an out-of-the-box candidate, a no-nonsense one at that, whose track record in governance is something most politicians should be envious about, but whose heart really beats for the Filipino people and whose dream is to make the whole country a livable place, in the same manner Duterte made Davao City a comfortable place for the Davaoeños.

Senator Antonio Trillanes and President Rodrigo Duterte

The reason why I am saying that Cambridge Analytica has nothing to do at all with Duterte being elected president stems from the fact that opposition senator and known Duterte basher, Antonio Trillanes, has been reported to be filing a resolution calling for a Senate probe into the role of Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 presidential elections, the same way the British firm is being accused now of capturing Facebook users’ data to corrupt the minds of the Americans into making the controversy-laden Donald Trump their president during the 2016 US presidential election.

The reality is that it was the intense hunger of Filipinos for a fearless and selfless down-to-earth Filipino leader with political will that made Duterte an overwhelming choice for the presidency.

The majority of poor voters who gave Duterte a margin of 6 million votes over his closest rival are proof enough that Cambridge Analytica was a non-factor, for they were not relishing in having a Facebook account.

Thus, I find Trillanes’ move for a Senate probe a mere grandstanding and purely nothing but a witch-hunt.

For not finding anymore culpability to spew barbs at Duterte, the way the latter continues to get support, trust and high approval ratings in his performance as president, Trillanes somehow thought he has found a bomb to be used against Duterte in the Cambridge Analytica controversy.

Soon Trillanes will come to realize that the bomb is a dud after all!

Trillanes for Duterte to have ‘psychiatric examination’

 

Sen. Antonio Trillanes and Pres. Rodrigo Duterte

It looks like Sen. Antonio Trillanes has a new issue against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Practically losing steam, and most importantly his credibility, in his crazy crusade against Duterte’s leadership, Trillanes is now seen jumping onto the attack wagon of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein who has in his cross-hairs now the Philippine president.

I say cross-hairs because Zeid stint in his job has been marked by targeting verbal tirades at leaders of US, Russia and China, etc., whose actions does not somehow conform to his beliefs in the principles of human rights.

Well, I may be biased, but Zeid should not be comparing what is happening in the country under Duterte with the chaos of Trump’s racism and ultra-nationalist issues in the US, Putin’s support of Assad’s murderous regime in Syria, and Xi’s support of Myanmar’s oppressive government against the Rohingyas.

Zeid’s diatribe against Duterte come on the heels of his continuing hostility against human rights advocates who pretend to be experts when they are not, especially the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, when referring to Duterte’s bloody war against illegal drugs. I have written about Callamard which you can read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/anybody-else-but-callamard/

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein

The UN human rights chief finally came to the rescue of Callamard from Duterte’s onslaught, saying, that “Duterte’s attacks against U.N. special rapporteurs cannot go unanswered and the U.N. Human Rights Council must take a position. He said the Philippine leader “needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination”.

Ironically the statement comes from someone who just revealed his intention to step down without seeking a second term because he fears his voice will be “muted” by leading global powers.

“After reflection, I have decided not to seek a second four-year term,” he said.

“To do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication; muting a statement of advocacy; lessening the independence and integrity of my voice – which is your voice.”

Zeid, a Jordanian prince and diplomat, thinks he can be disparaging at a third world leader, but scared and respectful to leaders of developed world. What an asshole!

And so, thinking that Zeid’s criticism on Duterte’s mental health will make the latter cower from his responsibilities, here comes Trillanes, a member of Zeir’s ilk, trying to capitalize on the situation by agreeing that Duterte should undergo a ‘psychiatric evaluation’.

“His murderous and erratic ways plus his crass, twisted, and perverted statements are indicative of a deeply sick mind. Hindi ‘yan normal na pag-iisip, lalo na ng isang Filipino (It’s not a normal way of thinking, especially for a Filipino),” Trillanes said.

I do not know about you, but Trillanes’ comment seems to indicate more about his mental status than that of President Duterte.

 

Our future calls for a revolutionary government

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

By the word itself, revolutionary tends to connote a fearful meaning and consequence. It does because it refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.

But haven’t we Filipinos been participants of revolutions against oppression and despotism in the past that made us who we are today and led us to where we are now?

The People Power uprising in 1986 or what is better known as the EDSA Revolution ended the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and catapulted Corazon Aquino to the leadership of the country.

As soon as Aquino assumed the presidency she figured out the only way she could quell pockets of resistance/defiance from Marcos supporters and be able to govern peacefully and effectively  was to establish a revolutionary government.

To effect radical change she used her revolutionary powers to sacked all elected officials, abolished Congress and tore up the 1973 constitution in favor of a provisional charter.

She handpicked a commission to write a new constitution, which was ratified by plebiscite in 1987 and paved the way for elections.

Thus Aquino was revered and highly acclaimed by many Filipinos as a heroine of democracy.

While democracy continues to be vibrant in this country, our progress as a nation, however, has been stymied by poor and ineffective leadership that followed Aquino, from Ramos to Estrada to Arroyo and another Aquino.

Seeing the same traditional politicians at the helm doing the same traditional governance, the Filipino people finally made a revolutionary decision to elect in 2016 an unconventional, an out-of-the-box- politician who made a name as a stern, no-nonsense politician and mayor of Davao City by making an unsafe, corrupt and problematic place into an admirable and highly livable one.

The result was an overwhelming victory prized him by the Filipino people to do what he is capable of doing just so the country could move forward and the lives of the people uplifted.  His election was a revolution in itself. Who would have thought that in our present political and electoral system a candidate without an organization and money could triumphed over those having funds and a well oiled political machinery?

Sociologist Randy David, a professor at the University of the Philippines, could never have been more right when, reflecting on the results of the 2016 elections, he said: “When candidate Duterte declared in the presidential debates that he represented the nation’s last card (huling baraha), he instantly resonated with them. They did not have to ask what the game was for which he was their last card. It was enough that he offered them something to which they could cling for hope.”

Thus, despite the negative review Duterte has been getting from the political opposition, the Catholic Church and human rights advocates on his war on drugs and the alleged extrajudicial killings resulting from it, the satisfaction and trust ratings of the president remains high. It only shows the encouragement and the confidence the people has on the president upon showing the political will not seen in other presidents before him in effecting the changes he promised the people during the campaign.

Senator Antonio Trillanes

It is not helping Duterte run the country that, while understanding the enormity of the problem the country is facing relative to drugs, corruption, criminality and narco-politics on one hand , and resolving the much dreaded Marawi crisis from spilling over in other parts of Mindanao on the other hand, still there are people the likes of Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk who wants nothing but attention by spewing diatribes at Duterte and his family simply because their own political agenda cannot prosper under Duterte’s presidency.

From the very beginning Duterte has not been coy in his intention and willingness to establish a revolutionary government if he sees that there are groups of people, especially those led by politicians, opposed to his rule and who do not want him to succeed. This was a warning he wanted all and sundry to take seriously especially if their motivation was to destabilize his government.

Yet Trillanes has the stupidity and shortsightedness in saying: : “I firmly believe that Duterte’s latest threat … is not only meant to intimidate those opposing his administration, but also to divert the attention from the various controversies in which his family is involved. It is also his only way to escape accountability for his crimes by perpetuating himself in power.”

A revolutionary government is not about Duterte perpetuating himself in power. Clearly it is an assurance that with Duterte remaining in power, the country and the Filipino people will have the changes promised them for a better future ahead as he is seen to be the only one capable of making it happen.

 

Duterte’s socioeconomic agenda and trust rating

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

Every time a Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia survey on the satisfaction and trust ratings of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte comes out people always wonder why the president has been able to maintain a high mark of approval despite the brouhaha raised by some group of people and organizations, both local and international, about his controversial war on drugs, extrajudicial killings, etc.

It must be confusing and frustrating to Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk in the senate and in our society, in general, why even as they hurl a fuselage of personal accusations against the president and his family, still it does not make a remarkable dent on his popularity and approval ratings.

But for the people who were inspired by Duterte’s candidacy and continue to support his presidency there has been a noticeable change in the kind of leadership the country needed which could have never happened had the Roxases, the Binays and the Poes won.

Duterte’s war on drugs, criminality and corruption are in itself big changes toward better future for country and people which can only be fought and sustained by somebody with political will to carry it out.

Events have shown that Duterte is no rubber stamp or a stooge of anybody, either here or abroad, and to the consternation of many that wants to meddle in his governance.

Duterte’s declaration of independent foreign policy had silently earned the ire of some friendly nations at first but is being accepted now as he saw the realities of the times where China has become the major regional power in Asia and the importance of improving relations with non-traditional including Russia, Japan and India.

This is a paradigm shift in our geopolitical relations that perhaps only Duterte could have thought of and it is earning him the respect of the whole world.

Duterte should be credited for where we are now as a nation, especially in having discovered earlier, rather than later, that narco-politics have engulf the country already. He is doing everything possible that this country will not go to the dogs.

What should make everybody hopeful, however, is that Duterte, while relentless in his war against drugs, corruption and criminality, is also making sure that his 10-point socioeconomic agenda listed below will continue to be followed through. This program in his presidency being implemented now is what is helping Duterte also earn his high satisfaction and trust ratings.

  1. Continuing and maintaining current macroeconomic policies, including fiscal, monetary and trade policies;
  2. Instituting progressive tax reform and more effective tax collection while indexing taxes to inflation;
  3. Increasing competitiveness and the ease of doing business, drawing upon successful models used to attract business to local cities such as Davao, as well as pursuing the relaxation of the Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership, except with regards to land ownership, in order to attract foreign direct investments;
  4. Accelerating annual infrastructure spending to account for 5 percent of the gross domestic product, with public-private partnerships playing a key role;
  5. Promoting rural and value chain development toward increasing agricultural and rural enterprise productivity and rural tourism;
  6. Ensuring security of land tenure to encourage investments and address bottlenecks in land management and titling agencies;
  7. Investing in human capital development, including health and education systems, as well as matching skills and training to meet the demands of businesses and the private sector;
  8. Promoting science, technology and the creative arts to enhance innovation and creative capacity toward self-sustaining and inclusive development;
  9. Improving social protection programs, including the government’s conditional cash transfer program, in order to protect the poor against instability and economic shocks; and
  10. Strengthening the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices on financial and family planning.