Tril­lanes chap­ter has made the Yel­lows’ blood run cold

Manila Times - - Front Page - RIGOB­ERTO D. TIGLAO

PRES­I­DENT Duterte’s of­fen­sive against Sen.

An­to­nio Tril­lanes 4th, nearly two weeks af­ter it started, has made the Yel­lows so afraid.

To call a spade a spade, the Tril­lanes episode is Duterte’s po­lit­i­cal blitz against the Yel­lows, three-and­half years be­fore elec­tions.

It is a ma­jor move for Duterte to dec­i­mate the op­po­si­tion this early, and to en­sure that the next pres­i­dent would be his anointed.

Soon, Tril­lanes will be as much a foot­note as al­leged drug- lord cod­dler Leila de Lima and the for­mer pres­i­dent’s abom­i­na­tion at the chief jus­tice post, Ma. Lour­des Sereno. The op­po­si­tion is left with no deadly po­lit­i­cal hit­man. Nor even in Tril­lanes’ mind, a “winnable” pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in the 2022 elec­tions: based on my in­ter­view with him in 2015, he be­lieved that the pres­i­dency was his next post af­ter his sen­a­to­rial stint.

Tril­lanes has been the Yel­low’s mad dog who has been bark­ing in­ces­santly so loudly and wildly against Duterte, that me­dia’s mi­cro­phones could not but pick up his bay­ing. Tril­lanes has been the Yel­lows’ po­lit­i­cal ra­bid-mad cur, an askal, from the street; Se­na­tors Risa Hon­tiveros, Bam Aquino, Kiko Pangili­nan are the pusil­lan­i­mous chi­huahuas of the Philip­pine elite. At 73, don’t ex­pect the obese Sen.

of a dashing Yel­low knight who would duel with Duterte.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Aquino is fast be­com­ing to­tally bald prob­a­bly be­cause of his fear of be­ing jailed him­self for graft or even just crim­i­nal neg­li­gence. He is so much dis­cred­ited, and with the blood of the SAF 44 and Deng­vaxia vic­tims on his hands, he doesn’t even dare ap­pear at a mall. His would-be ex­suc­ces­sor, Mar Roxas posted a video on his Face­book wall say­ing he was off to a long soul-search­ing kind of jour­ney through­out the ar­chi­pel­ago.

The Yel­lows didn’t see it com­ing. They were busy con­vinc­ing them­selves, and pan­ick­ing to get some proof (“he went to Is­rael for treat­ment”) that Duterte was dy­ing from some ill­ness. They even thought that the move against Tril­lanes was such a big blun­der that one of their colum­nists Melito Salazar and Aquino’s dis­graced tourism un­der­sec­re­tary Vi­cente Ro­mano were in a duet singing “The End is Near.”

Meta­mor­phosed

A day af­ter Duterte launched his of­fen­sive through Procla­ma­tion 572, a Philip­pineS­tar colum­nist— who had early this year called the out­rage against Deng­vaxia as mass hys­te­ria—even likened Duterte to For­est Gump and called his move a “half-wit le­gal ma­neu­ver.” Even the Philip­pine Daily Inquirer’s well-known colum­nist, a sup­porter of Duterte, head­lined his piece “Digong is mak­ing a mar­tyr out of Tril­lanes.” A non- lawyer, he claimed that Duterte “got flawed coun­sel from his le­gal ad­vis­ers” who should be fired.

Tril­lanes him­self claimed that for Duterte to re­voke his amnesty is so alarm­ingly stupid, that the Pres­i­dent wasn’t re­ally a lawyer, but just got his fa­ther, a one­time gover­nor, to put him in the ros­ter of at­tor­neys. Duterte of course pointed out that his fa­ther died 20 years be­fore he be­came a lawyer.

Nearly two weeks af­ter Duterte’s move against him though, no­body’s call­ing the Pres­i­dent stupid any­more.

Tril­lanes has quickly meta­mor­phosed from a would-be mar­tyr of the op­po­si­tion to a cow­ard hid­ing un­der the Se­nate’s skirts, as it were, trem­bling at the thought of spend­ing time in some yucky po­lice jail, to a clown, ev­ery­day ex­pect­ing hordes of Filipinos to rally to his ban­ner.

Ein­stein re­port­edly de­fined in­san­ity as “do­ing the same thing and ex­pect­ing dif­fer­ent re­sults.”

is mad. By oc­cu­py­ing with his gang Oak­wood in 2003 and then the Penin­sula ho­tels in 2007, he thought that he was a Juan Ponce Enrile or a Fidel Ramos, whom Filipinos ral­lied around against Mar­cos in 1986, to trig­ger a Peo­ple Power up­ris­ing to top­ple then Pres­i­dent Ar­royo. They didn’t, with Tril­lanes later lamely blam­ing then Makati Mayor Jojo Bi­nay, whom he claimed had promised to bring

to sup­port the putschists. (Bi­nay could mo­bi­lize Peo­ple Power?)

He has done the same thing and ex­pected a dif­fer­ent re­sult. He thought he would trig­ger Peo­ple Power by hol­ing up in the Se­nate. But he could gather at most 50 peo­ple, half of whom were ob­vi­ously poor house­wives just want­ing to make a buck. To take the role of Car­di­nal Sin in EDSA I, he could only get that lu­natic, pub­lic­ity-seek­ing priest Roberto Reyes. Worse, the cleric Noel Gatchalian roused Catholics’ ire when he said in his ser­mon at a mass for Tril­lanes that he prayed to God to make Duterte ill, and then later thanked Tril­lanes in his Face­book post for gift­ing him a P100,000 Ap­ple lap­top.

Even Yel­low diehards pray­ing ev­ery day for a Power Power against Duterte and who are so fond of join­ing protest rallies – the likes of Dinky Soli­man, Tere­sita De­les, Jim Pare­des and Mae Paner – didn’t rally to Tril­lanes’ ban­ners.

Bril­liantly played

Let’s be re­al­is­tic. No­body, not even his anti- Duterte com­rades, likes Tril­lanes. He was solely Aquino’s per­sonal min­ion, and I was told he was flatly re­jected when he sent feel­ers that he wanted to be a Lib­eral Party vice pres­i­dent. Tril­lanes is a per­son that should have stayed in the mil­i­tary, where one doesn’t need to be liked by any­body, but only re­quired to be obeyed be­cause of rank.

Peo­ple see Tril­lanes not just as ar­ro­gant but a mega­lo­ma­niac. Win­ning twice as sen­a­tor made his head swell. He mis­tak­enly be­lieves that the masses adore him, ig­nor­ing the fact that it was the anti-Ar­royo hys­te­ria – and I sus­pect mas­sive cheat­ing – that gave him those elec­tion vic­to­ries. In his six years as sen­a­tor, he has never been iden­ti­fied with any cause to up­lift the masses out of their mis­ery. Peo­ple re­mem­ber him only as some­body go­ing against and bul­ly­ing some­body— even the re­spected oc­to­ge­nar­ian Juan Ponce Enrile—un­der the pre­text of con­duct­ing a Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tion in aid of leg­is­la­tion.

The Yel­lows had no al­ter­na­tive but to make him the de facto Yel­low leader be­cause of his wild, loud bark­ing. Now that leader may be thrown in jail, prob­a­bly to share the same jail block as De Lima.

Whether he planned it or not, Duterte bril­liantly played Tril­lanes, mak­ing him squirm for days in his Se­nate of­fice, blab­ber­ing non­sense at press con­fer­ences,

- porters dwin­dling by the day. He has demon­strated that he is not at all a mar­tyr of democ­racy but a

trou­ble­maker quak­ing in his boots af­ter some­one he had been curs­ing at con­stantly hit back at him.

Whether he planned it or not, or it was sim­ply co­in­ci­den­tal, Duterte‘ s tim­ing was per­fect in putting away Tril­lanes, as he did De Lima and Sereno.

Duterte will be en­deared to the pub­lic for his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ex­pert han­dling of prepa­ra­tions for and res­cue ef­forts in con­nec­tion with the dev­as­ta­tion wrought by Typhoon Om­pong. In the next few weeks, ex­pect the front pages of news­pa­pers and top sto­ries of TV news to bury the Tril­lanes ca­per and to in­stead re­port how

com­mis­er­at­ing with the typhoon’s vic­tims. A month or so later, this will show up in his pop­u­lar­ity rat­ings – which politi­cians use to de­ter­mine their sup­port for a pres­i­dent – go­ing up. Watch sto­ries on Tril­lanes in the news­pa­pers move from page 1 to the in­side pages, as ed­i­tors—and es­pe­cially we Filipinos—get tired of this self­im­por­tant Aquino lackey.

In­fla­tion in the next month or two—as it has al­ways been in our re­cent his­tory, af­ter a pe­riod when the op­po­si­tion claims it is a sign of im­pend­ing doom of an in­cum­bent—will be go­ing down, re­mov­ing doubts over Duterte’s ca­pa­bil­ity to lead the na­tion. And lastly, what Filipinos call the “ber” months are upon us, af­ter the ter­ri­ble mon­soon rains and typhoons, and peo­ple look for­ward to con­tin­u­ous mer­ry­mak­ing in Christ­mas par­ties. Peo­ple just don’t like to be both­ered on th­ese months.

The Yel­lows are just start­ing to re­al­ize what’s hap­pened this month, and their blood have run cold.

Watch Sen­a­tor Grace Poe, though. She knows the Yel­lows are de­feated, and she’s start­ing to po­si­tion her­self to be not nec­es­sar­ily an anti-Duterte pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, but a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to whomever Duterte chooses as his anointed in the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. The equiv­a­lent of Bi­nay in 2022.

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