Antonio Trillanes is a member of the Philippine Senate, an institution that ought to be scraped and repalced by a federal-parliamentary system as soon as possible. But what is most surprising about a character like Trillanes is that he is allowed to engage in politics from anywhere except a prison cell.
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 recent 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.
While Trillanes has lost credibility among the vast majority of Filipinos, his remarks threatening a coup are not only a savage provocation but are illegal. In any other nation weather China, Turkey, the United States, Russia, Egypt, Spain or Japan, such remarks would land someone in prison or worse. While Trillanes’ previous coup attempts have indeed landed him behind bars, it beggars belief that he is allowed to make further threats regarding extra-legal military action against his own state and escape punishment.
President Dutete has however warned Trillanes about the age-old folly of pride. Perhaps it is indeed because Duterte has not ordered Trillanes’ arrest that the rogue senator is now becoming all the more ferocious in his verbal threats.
Duterte however recently said the following about Trillanes and his dangerous antics:
“You know how politicians are. Trillanes is always trying to act tough and threatening and thinks he’s better than he is. He feels confident because he’s from the Armed Forces, the Navy. But who would believe him? He likes to fight a lot. He was part of the Magdalo before and was pardoned by Aquino (Duterte’s predecessor, Noynoy Aquino). Now look what happened. He’s always calling for a fight.
He believes that he’s the only tough one around because nobody fought him back. But there will come a day that someone will shoot him because he’s arrogant”.
With his customary lack of humility, Trillanes responded by saying,
“Go ahead, Mr. Duterte, order somebody to shoot me and, I assure you, it would lead to your end”.
Except in a country like Somalia or Ukraine where law and order has broken down entirely, Trillanes would simply not be tolerated. Perhaps Duterte, being familiar with the laws of justice that are part of the human condition as well as being familiar with traditional law and order, he realises that in biting off more than he can chew, the violent Trillanes may eventually fall by the same sword that he has frequently drawn against others.
This would help explain Duterte’s willingness to accept Trillanes as a senator rather than a fugitive from justice. What is clear is that no other head of state would be so openly tolerant against literally blood-soaked opponents.