Trillanes standoff: What’s the end game?
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2018 - 12:00am

President Duterte direly wants Senator Trillanes behind bars. That’s his aim in revoking Trillanes’ 2010 amnesty as a Navy mutineer. His Proclamation 572 directs the AFP and PNP “to apprehend former LtSG Trillanes so that he can be recommitted to the detention facility.” Trillanes himself says the amnesty issue thinly disguises the presidential decree as nothing more than an arrest order.

Trillanes is the bitterest of Duterte’s critics. He alone has been alleging multibillion-peso undeclared deposits – which riles the latter no end. Things were bound to come to a head. In devising Trillanes’ retrial for mutiny, Duterte swears to want only to correct a faulty exoneration of an “enemy of the state.” In reply Trillanes taunts Duterte anew to waive bank secrecy over the questioned accounts. How else then for the Commander-in-Chief to shut up Trillanes than by military stockade?

Things didn’t work out as planned, though. Trillanes’ case has gone viral and international. By holing out at the Senate, he was projected as an underdog. Duterte’s own advisers rued that the posse of cops and hecklers outside only heroized the senator as a crusader against authoritarianism. In truth, Trillanes was disliked in his own circles. He habitually defied superiors: the President in 2003 and 2007; the Senate President who took him from prison into personal care in 2010; the Makati Mayor who financed him in 2011; the Foreign Secretary during the Scarborough standoff with China in 2012; and presidential candidate Duterte starting 2016 after the latter turned him down as VP running mate. Trillanes’ political stock has been waning. He was about to fade away upon term’s end in 2019. But the gang-up by administration spokesmen and prosecutors unwittingly has projected him as leader of the anti-Duterte opposition in the coming mid-term election.

The Judiciary also has intervened. At the Supreme Court was filed the question of whether Duterte by his lonesome can repeal an amnesty jointly granted by a former President and Congress. Too, a trial court refuses to issue an arrest warrant against Trillanes, preferring to examine first the facts of the 2010 amnesty grant. Duterte, a former state prosecutor, had to back off in favor of legal procedures. He says he is no longer interested in jailing his foe.

Meanwhile, Duterte’s son has been filing a series of libel suits against Trillanes. Sooner or later, prosecutors and judges from the Dutertes’ Davao City home court will be issuing subpoenas for Trillanes’ personal appearance. The senator growls that he is unafraid to show up in enemy territory. But upon leaving the Senate he would be fair game. Sanctuary there is best, he knows.

Whatever happens will dictate the course of the midterm election.

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Sotto: “‘Ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo’ is defeatist. It should be ‘ang ipaglaban ang kalayaaan mo.’”

Bato: “Ang manlalaban ay mamamatay!”

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The P55-billion pork barrel at the House of Reps is being likened to “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” House leaders discovered it buried in the maze of items in the P3.757-trillion national budget bill for 2019. Allegedly the previous leaders inserted it there before they were deposed. If undiscovered, the P55 billion supposedly would have been disbursed to 40 favored congressmen.

In the “Tales of the Arabian Nights” woodcutter Ali Baba saw 40 robbers with their loot arrive on horseback at a cave. The bandleader commanded, “Open sesame,” and the boulder swung open to let them in and hide the stolen gold. When they rode out, the leader boomed, “Shut sesame,” and the boulder swung back to cover. After they left, Ali Baba repeated the magic words, entered the cave, then took off with the hoard.

At the House, the finders of the P55-billion pork barrel treat it as an open-and-shut case. Say they, the loot should be shared equally by all 294 members, not only the favored 40. And they will live happily ever after – to the detriment of the taxpayers from whom the P55 billion came.

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Are disaster deaths preventable? That question is always asked after a typhoon, flood, landslide. It will continue to be asked, by people knowledgeable about disaster mitigation in responsible countries compared to negligent Philippines.

Most disaster deaths certainly are preventable. Filipinos just have to remember what they learned in kindergarten. From the children’s song about the foolish man building his house upon sand and the wise man upon rock, they should grasp the need for stable foundation. From the bedtime story of the wolf blowing down the little pigs’ shelters made of hay or sticks but not of bricks, they should use sturdy building materials. From elementary science they should know that rocks fall down, never up; that water seeks its own level; and that fire can wipe out everything.

Yet plain folk and officials persist in doing wrong: erecting homes in avalanche zones, beside rising rivers, in the middle of drying creeks. Ignoring the Building Code in which pioneering engineers and architects denoted the type and dimensions of building materials and methods of construction. Denuding forests and carving up mountains, without restoring nature as required in timber and mining concessions.

The Philippine archipelago is within the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is prone to the strongest cyclones, killer quakes, and volcanic eruptions. Climate change is messing up cropping seasons and warming the fishing grounds. All Filipinos are doing is accept their supposed fate that “London bridge is falling down.”

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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