Duterte Clamps Down Against Coup Leader Trillanes

In a country with a just rule of law, current Philippine Senator Antonio Trillanes would still be in prison and would never come out. Trillanes is indeed no stranger to the highest crime one can commit against one’s nation- treason. He was the organiser of a military uprising against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the sitting Philippine President in 2003. He was later jailed for his seditious activities. He then again attempted to lead a mutinous coup in 2007 again against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo before surrendering to authorities. More recently he has been charged with espionage and treason by the current administration due to his participation in a conspiracy to undermine the interests of The Philippines by engaging in “back channel talks” with a foreign power.

The only reason Trillanes isn’t in prison for a set of crimes that is many nations is punishable by death is because in 2010 President Noynoy Aquino granted Trillanes amnesty. But rather than accept the good fortune of being effectively pardoned* by a political ally, Trillanes has called for more violent sedition against the current President of The Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.

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. At the time of Trillanes’s Asian Times interview where he called for a coup against Duterte, the current President warned the mutineer about the folly of pride. Duterte stated at the time,

“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”.

Today, while on the third day of his visit to Israel, Duterte ordered the authorities to revoke the amnesty that Aquino gifted Trillanes which will necessarily entail his automatic arrest on sedition related charges dating back to his criminal activity in 2003 and 2007. Officials have stated that because Trillanes did not comply with the terms of the original amnesty, the 2010 order is no longer valid.

For the moment Trillances has barricaded himself in the Senate with the backing of his political allies. It remains to be seen how a formal arrest will proceed. While Trillanes is largely a discredited figure in The Philippines, his rabid calls to unseat the democratically elected President have become ever more imbued with violence and mania over time.

Trillanes’s remarks against Duterte are not that of constructive criticism and they even go well beyond the obstructionist tactics of his political comrades. While Trillances is calming that the revocation of his political amnesty is attempt to silence his manic outbursts, in reality the current administration has not levelled any new charges at the malicious Senator. Instead, government officials merely stated that the charges which initially landed him in prison are still valid and therefore he is not a free man in the eyes of the law.

It is anyone’s guess whether Trillanes will attempt to flea from justice or otherwise continue to resist arrest under the protection of lawless Senators including Senate President Tito Sotto. What is clear is that at a moment when Duterte is on one of the longest foreign trips of his Presidency, today’s withdrawal of amnesty was the correct move at the appropriate time. With Duterte and some of the government’s top officials busily conducting business in Israel and Jordan, this would have left rabid animals of the lowest order to succumb to their most vulgar perversions which in a fit of anti-national insanity could have led them to openly plot acts of supreme wickedness against the people. The very stability of the Philippines could be put at risk if Trillanes did as he often threatened to do and see Duterte’s prolonged absence from the country as a proximate catalyst for spreading poisonous anarchy throughout the nation.

The only thing therefore that is surprising about the revocation of amnesty offered to Trillanes is that it took such a long while to happen, seeing as a verminous creature who has already used up much of his political nine lives has not been content to be grateful for the former President’s political gesture to him, but instead has seen it as a green-light to commit future seditious and anti-democratic conspiracies.

The government media of the DPRK once referred to the proscribed Thae Yong-ho in the following way,

“…the fugitive should have received legal punishment for the crimes he committed, but he discarded the fatherland that raised him and even his own parents and brothers by fleeing, thinking nothing but just saving himself, showing himself to be human scum who lacks even an elementary level of loyalty and even tiny bits of conscience and morality that are required for human beings”.

It is difficult to imagine a better description of Trillanes who now at long last may face the justice he has evaded for eight long years.

*Unlike an amnesty, a pardon is irrevocable. By contrast Trillanes’s amnesty came with contingency clauses. At least one of these has been violated, thus triggering the revocation. 

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