If there is anything or anyone that epitomises everything that is wrong with the Philippines, it is none other than “senator” Antonio Trillanes. I enclose “senator” in quotes whenever I refer to Trillanes because he is one only because a piece of paper says so. In spirit he is anything but. Indeed, even the idea that he was a former soldier of the Republic is debatable. Back in the early- to mid-2000s, Trillanes was not a good soldier. Back then, across a series of “adventures”, Trillanes endangered thousands of Filipino lives and damaged millions of pesos in private property, illegally used millions of pessos worth of the Filipino people’s military resources in an attempt to topple a government he had sworn allegiance to.
Trillanes is a senator today only because current President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III “pardoned” him of the crime of rebellion. Back in 2010 newly-minted President BS Aquino issued Proclamation 50 granting amnesty to Trillanes and his bandit group.
He did this despite a clear recognition of the gravity of the offenses this mob had committed — rebellion, the deliberate endangerment of civilian life, and damage to private property. The only rationale Malacanang could provide to justify this granting of amnesty is that:
(1) “there is a clamor from certain sectors of society urging the President to extend amnesty to said AFP personnel”;
(2) The Constitution says the President can; and,
(3) It is in line with Noynoys aspiring “to promote an atmosphere conducive to the attainment of a just, comprehensive and enduring peace”.
A “clamor”, a Constitional provision, and an airy-fairy aspiration to some nebulous goal constitute the only things Malacanang can cough up to justify setting loose a group of loose-cannon ex-soldiers.
Aquino could get away with a proclamation based on idiotic principles because he was popular at the time. Filipinos, true to their exhibiting the usual level of intelligence were quick to embrace the popular sentiment back then rather than engage in a bit of modern thinking. Blogger Ellen Tordesillas wrote, “Trillanes and company never stole a single centavo from the government”. I say perhaps. But in my book Trillanes and his band of bandits did something worse. His actions contributed to undermining the stability of the state and perception overseas of the Philippines as a viable market to invest in and do business with.
Until today we see “senator” Trillanes doing what he does well — inciting violent overthrow of a future legitimately-mandated government and engaging in illegal acts to pursue his personal vendettas. This is behaviour unbecoming of a legislator and a “senator”. Of course his colleagues in the Senate will not touch Trillanes’s issues with a ten-foot-pole either. Perhaps it is because all of them have bank accounts in the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) to hide from Trillanes’s “contacts” as well.
Indeed, the Philippines is a nation of crooks led by chambers of crooks. This is the reason there will never be any justice in the Philippines over the foreseeable future. Everyone has something to hide. This is why crooks like Trillanes get pardoned for rebellion rather than get dragged squealing like a pig in front of a firing squad — because Filipinos, in general, cannot tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. They allow leaders of Islamic terrorist groups to lead “peace talks” with their Muslim “brothers” in Mindanao, and they allow crooks like Trillanes to take comfy seats in their Senate.
And so here is the key lesson in all this…
It is not President Rodrigo Duterte who will be “scaring” foreign investors away after the 2016 presidential elections. What will be giving investors second thoughts about parking their dollars in the Philippines are Filipinos. The Philippines, we need to be reminded, is a democracy. The character of its elected leaders mirror the character of its voters. It really is not any more complicated than that.