The runup to the May 2022 elections has begun with political realignments taking place at a slower pace compared to the last cycle. This can be attributed to the preoccupation with coping with the pandemic and the fact that there is a vacuum in the political landscape due to a dearth of qualified candidates.
It doesn’t augur well for a country when the first to declare their candidacies is a pair of septuagenarians. This is not disparaging their competence and qualification but more about the question of their capability to come up with an equally disruptive platform of goverment to cope with the widespread disruption caused by the pandemic. Technology provides the solutions to the challenges so it’s hard to think of how they can come up with innovative and out-of-the-box solutions when they’re barely tech-literate?
The incestuous nature of political dynasties also comes into play. Both houses of Congress are bereft of talent who have the potential to work their way up the leadership ladder with an eye on winning the top spot in future Presidential contests.
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The Senate is the best or the worst example, depending on how you you look at; Bong Revilla and Lito Lapid are the most senior Senators. Neither one is even hardly qualified, much less capable, of being Majority Leader or Senate President. They’re more silent than outspoken which qualifies them to be the sign language interpreter on televised public hearings if ony they could sign.
The opposition is in the same boat. Much as they wanted to build a coalition against the administration, they failed miserably. 1Sambayan was supposed to be the vehicle to unite leftist-liberal-militants under one roof but this didn’t happen. Their event last June 12 was a miserable failure and with the politicians whom they named have all declined save for Leni Robredo and Antonio Trillanes.
The problem is both have poor chances of winning the two highest posts in the land. Leni Robredo hasn’t been able to gain ground despite being in office for five years as Vice-President. Trillanes is the same because he’s perceived to be a mercenary. Proof of this is how he has taken Robredo to task for her consultations with Sen. Ping Lacson and Sen. Dick Gordon. The outspoken putschist-turned-Senator has publicly rebuked the incumbent Vice-President and titular head of the opposition. This betrays his underlying desire to be the anointed candidate of the opposition despite his being at the bottom rung of the surveys for both Vice-President and Senator.
Trillanes has no one to blame but himself. Despite his unexpected win as Senator in the 2007 midterm election while under detention for leading the Oakwood Mutiny in 2003 against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo he remained resolved. The masa who were disenfranchised by Erap’s ouster vented their ire on Arroyo by making Trillanes win in the Senate race. He became the youngest Senator elected to the office taking over the distinction previously held by Ninoy Aquino.
Trillanes made all the right moves from that time on until 2007 when he and co-accused Gen. Danilo Lim walked out of their trial at a Makati Regional Trial Court and proceeded to the Manila Peninsula hotel to mount another attempt to oust Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The standoff ended badly as Arroyo ordered the PNP Special Action Force to assault the Peninsula where Trillanes, Lim and soldiers and civilians loyal to them were holed up. The image of Trillanes being led out of the Peninsula by his waist band by Superintendent Geary Barias of the PNP is the first image which comes up whenever Trillanes is googled on the internet.
Trillanes would only regain his freedom after Arroyo stepped down in 2010 and Benigno Aquino III assumed the Presidency. He was later granted amnesty for the coup charges leveled against him and promptly began going after his enemies in and outside of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Several anomalies in the AFP were brought before the Senate Blue Ribbon Comittee. All of these were part of the issues which the Magdalo Group claimed pushed them to mount a coup against the Arroyo goverment. It was an ugly specter to see Trillanes relentlessly questioning his seniors at the Academy and the AFP. It resulted in the suicide of Gen.Angelo Reyes and charges being brought against Gen. Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot, who were both AFP Comptrollers.
Trillanes developed a reputation as an attack dog of Aquino. After the AFP scandal came the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012. Aquino had his way with the House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Sonny Belmonte. The Senate was a more independent body under then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile but he had to contend with the cabal of pro-Aquino Senators in the persons of Trillanes, Alan Cayetano, Koko Pimentel and TG Guingona.
After Corona’s ignominious conviction under very dubious circumstances came the demolition job on then Vice-President Jejomar Binay. The Senate inquiry on Binay ran for three years until before the 2016 election. It was a demonstration of naked power which was unprecedented as the Senate became the venue of how due process was not accorded the accused in hearings which were supposedly in aid of legislation but appeared to be more in aid of political persecution.
Binay went on to lose in the 2016 Presidential race. The demolition job on him, the subsequent arrest and charging of incumbent Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile by then Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, were all meant to weaken the opposition in preparation for Mar Roxas’ presidential run in 2016.
After Binay, Trillanes focused on Rodrigo Duterte next. He hounded the presidential candidate for all of the campaign period as he originated the hidden wealth claim against the Davao City Mayor with the monies allegedly deposited at the Bank of the Philippine Islands Julia Vargas branch in the Ortigas CBD. He then produced a negative political advertisement showing children cursing as the effect of Duterte’s penchant for lacing his campaign speeches with expletives during the campaign.
Trillanes didn’t stop even after Duterte became President. He has taken it upon himself to unseat Duterte despite his mounting string of failures the latest of which was the series of the Ang Tunay na Narco-list videos on YouTube before the 2019 midterm election. It was also Trillanes who pushed lawyer Jude Sabio into filing a complaint against the President at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands.
What is ironic now is Trillanes is beginning to turn into a political pariah with his criticism of Robredo for her meeting with Lacson, whom Trillanes has labeled a Duterte-enabler. Trillanes was allies with Sen. Lacson and Honasan against Arroyo. If reports are to be believed, it was Honasan who tapped Trillanes to become the leader of the Magdalo Group along with other offices of the AFP’s special operations units whom Honasan was familiar with having been their instructor at Fort Magsaysay.
At this point, Trillanes has nowhere to go except his Magdalo Group which has evolved into a political organization. However, with Lacson having the support of his seniors at the Academy, the end might well be near for Trillanes if the juniors who form the core of Magdalo defects to Lacson’s Reporma, which was founded by former General, Executive Secretary and Secretary of National Defense, Renato De Villa.
Trillanes had a promising political career if only he played his cards right. His weakness has always been his inability to decline the opportunity of being an attack dog. At this point, even his prospects of winning a Senate seat is bleak. Not only has public support for him waned but he has made too many powerful enemies who would want nothing than to put him down. This is usually the fate of political attack dogs who have become rabid beyond redemption.
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