Philippine Senator Antonio Trillanes is no stranger to treason, having organised a military uprising against a sitting Philippine President in 2003. He was later jailed for his seditious activities. He again attempted to lead a coup in 2007 against then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo before surrendering to authorities.
Now the master of coups, deception and lawlessness has his depraved ambitions set on President Duterte. While Trillanes is clearly no stranger to armed violence, one of the reasons he claims to oppose Duterte is over Duterte’s war on drugs. In the strange world of Trillanes, it is somehow more worrying that criminals might be brought to justice than it is for a rogue soldier to lead uniformed traitors against elected officials. While there is no logic to the sentiments of Trillanes, this hardly matters as Trillanes is the type of man to attach himself to any movement or idea that he believes can bring him closer to the power he has always desperately coveted.
Ultimately, Trillanes is an egotist with more brawn than brains and clearly more greed than respect for a dignified and stable political process. But nevertheless, the current Senator’s personal history reveals that he is a very dangerous character.
In a new interview with the Asia Times, Trillanes called upon serving members of the Philippine military to rise up against Duterte and remove him from power. These remarks alone are treasonous, but if Trillanes is able to coax, coerce or bribe individuals in uniform to do as he wishes, the situation could rapidly escalate.
Trillanes should of course be immediately arrested for his statements to the Asia Times, but beyond this, Duterte must be on guard against those in uniform whose loyalty is to someone other than the elected head of state.
For this, Duterte can learn from Turkey whose military had been dangerous infiltrated by members of the terrorist group FETO (The Fethullah Terror Organisation). Led by Fethullah Gulen, a one-time aspiring Turkish leader turned terrorist who is now exiled in the United States, FETO has staged multiple terrorist attacks which have threatened the peace and unity of Turkey in the past. In 2015, FETO members within the military conspired to shoot down a Russian plane on the Turkey-Syria border in an attempt to provoke war between the two countries. In the summer of 2016, FETO members in the Army attempted an illegal coup against the democratically elected President of Turkey. Here, President Erdogan, after likely being tipped off by Russian authorities was able to regroup and appeal to his millions of supporters to rally against the traitors, Ultimately genuine people power was able to stop the coup.
As a result, Erdogan declared a state of emergency and arrested numerous FETO conspirators within the military, police, civil service, “journalism” and academia. While this has helped to cleanse the Army and other state bodies of terrorist sleepers, FETO still poses a grave threat to Turkey. In late 2016, a FETO member who happened to be a police officer assassinated the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov in cold blood in a further attempt to derail the crucial Russo-Turkish partnership.
If Trillanes is The Philippines’ version of Fethullah Gulen, Duterte’s historic Sino-Philippine partnership is the equivalent of the new and healthy Russo-Turkish partnership. Indeed, in his Asia Times interview, Trillanes spews hatred regarding Duterte’s friendship with Chinese President Xi and even suggests that this alone is a reason for a coup against Duterte. FETO made similar claims regarding President Erdogan’s friendship with Russian President Putin.
The solution for Duterte is therefore clear, he must rally behind his supporters and other patriotic Filipinos in the military and police while purging criminal traitorous elements in both, in order to weed out anyone who might be cooperating with or has the potential to be seduced by Trillanes’ calls for unlawful treason. Duterte must also not be afraid to target so-called journalists and academics who openly associate with Trillanes and his calls for lawlessness and violence.
Furthermore, Duterte must capitalise on the support of the so-called DDS movement, the Diehard Duterte Supporters and warn them that if Trillanes does what FETO did in Turkey, it will be up to the DDS movement to stop any acts of treason irrespective of the cost. This is what saved Turkey from becoming a terrorist state under the leadership of Gulen and his cult like followers and this could also stop The Philippines from falling into the trap that the devious Trillanes has clearly set.