November 2017

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

A welcome ceremony for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

A welcome ceremony for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

At the urging of his Filipino-Canadian constituents, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dared to bring up “human rights” when he met with Philippine president Rodrigo “The Punisher” Duterte at the end of the 31st Summit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Western nations in Manila. Had Trudeau taken the cue from former U.S. president Barack Obama, he would have skipped the subject matter. But like they say: the devil made him do it.

Obama, who tried to “lecture” Duterte on human rights last year at the ASEAN summit in Laos last year, earned the epithet of Duterte who warned that if Obama asked his government’s extrajudicial killings, “Putang ina (“son of a bitch” in Filipino), I will swear at you.” Well, Obama cancelled their meeting and said that Duterte was a “colorful guy.”

Indeed, Trudeau was only among a few world leaders who daringly raised the issue of human rights at the ASEAN summit. Known for championing human rights, Trudeau told a Canadian reporter that he discussed the issue with Duterte when they met for the ASEAN-Canada Commemorative Summit. He told Duterte that Canada was “concerned” over the human rights violations and extrajudicial killings happening in the Philippines as a result of Duterte’s “war on drugs” which has claimed the lives of thousands of drug suspects. He said in a press conference: “I also mentioned human rights, the rule of law and specifically extrajudicial killings as being an issue that Canada is concerned with. “I impressed on him the need for respect for the rule of law, and as always offered Canada’s support and help as a friend to move forward on what is a real challenge.”

Tons of garbage

Canadian trash at the Port of Manila.

Canadian trash at the Port of Manila.

But notwithstanding the appeals from Filipino-Canadians, Trudeau’s trip to Manila was confronted with another issue: Canadian trash dumped in Manila – 2,500 tons declared as “recyclable plastic scrap materials.” Chronic Plastics Incorporated (CPI), an export company base in Ontario, Canada, shipped it in 2013. It was consigned to Live Green Enterprise.

In January 2014, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) discovered the garbage when they opened the container vans as part of procedures on shipments not claimed for a long period of time. What they found was plastic bottles, plastic bags, newspapers, household garbage, and used adult diapers. The garbage was then classified as “hazardous” as per Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste and Control Act of 1990, or Republic Act 6969.

In February 2014, the BOC filed a smuggling complaint against Adelfa Eduardo, owner of Chronic Plastics, and its licensed Customs brokers Leonora Flores and Shejun Saldon, for violating the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.

In 2015, the Manila City Council adopted a resolution seeking to remove the 50 shipping containers. Today, the container vans are still at the Port of Manila.

But Canada had said that taking the garbage back is not that easy due to legalities. A spokesperson for Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development had said that there was nothing hazardous in the material shipped and that no laws exist to force Ontario Chronic Inc. to recall the shipping containers. This is in contradiction to what the BOC had found out when it inspected the cargo.

Theoretically possible

 President Rodrigo Duterte and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau link arms during the ASEAN-Canada 40th Commemorative session in Manila.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau link arms during the ASEAN-Canada 40th Commemorative session in Manila.

Trudeau is now saying that it is “now theoretically possible” for Canada to remove the trash. However, he explained that several issues need to be worked out, including who should bear financial responsibility? He said that “legal barriers and restrictions” are preventing Canada from taking the trash back. “Those impediments have now been addressed,” Trudeau said during a press briefing. Malacañang responded by saying that Duterte has faith that Trudeau will keep his promise to resolve the garbage issue.

One has to feel sorry for Trudeau because, (1) he wasn’t the Prime Minister when the garbage was shipped to the Philippines; and (2) he can’t find a way to go around Canadian law, which does not provide a mechanism to compel the return of illegal shipments to the port of origin. In other words, the Philippines is stuck with garbage that nobody wants.

Ultimately, Trudeau, who is now under pressure from world leaders to remove the trash, would have to bite the bullet and do what is right: take back the garbage at Canada’s cost. He is putting his reputation on the line as a strong advocate for climate change. He has to exert a strong political will to settle this stinking mess. Failure to do so would put a dark cloud over his political future.

Duterte on the other hand reacted with his usual expletive-laden attacks. He considered Trudeau’s comments as an “insult” both at personal and official levels. “It angers me when you are a foreigner and you do not know exactly what is happening in this country. You do not investigate … I only answer to the Filipino. I will not answer to any other bullshit, especially foreigners. Lay off,” he said.

But following Trudeau’s informal meeting with Duterte, Trudeau told the media, ”We impressed upon him the need to respect the rule of law and, as always, offered Canada’s support and help as a friend to help move forward. This is the way we engage with the world, this is the way we always will.” Then he added, diplomatically, “The President was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange.” But Duterte later told the media that he had refused to provide an explanation for the killings, which by some estimates is placed between 7,000 and 10,000 drug users in first year of his presidency.

Can’t win this battle

 President Donald Trump offers a toast to President Rodrigo Duterte and his partner Honeylet Avancena.

President Donald Trump offers a toast to President Rodrigo Duterte and his partner Honeylet Avancena.

It’s interesting to note that while Trudeau had courageously brought up the issue of human rights and extrajudicial killings with Duterte, Trump avoided the subject – uncharacteristically — when the two met. Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that human rights came up “briefly in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs.” After their meeting, they issued a joint statement saying they “underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs.”

Trump’s soft-pedaling on the issue of human rights may have prevented another outburst from Duterte, who would have gone ballistic. Trump probably thought that this is one battle he’s not going to win. He’d rather taunt North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, which would keep his political base agitated and revved up, than treat another loose cannon like a Sicilian Mafia don. The last thing Trump would want to see is to start a word war, which is worse than World War III where nobody has to suffer because all humankind will be annihilated.

Well, Trump got off the hook easily. The Punisher spared him. He was able to “discuss” human rights with the Punisher, albeit in passing. Indeed, age has its advantage after all. But the boyish-looking Trudeau, who has the temerity of a tiger but a novice in the art of war, had incurred the wrath of the Punisher.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Trump-and-Xi-and-wves-BeijingPresident Donald Trump would have achieved a five-star rating during his five-Asian tour. But while one can say that he would easily have breezed through Japan and South Korea, who were more than happy to accommodate him, the China visit looked like a vassal kowtowing to the Chinese emperor.

While some people might suggest that Trump’s “America First” is going to bring the jobs back to the U.S., the fact remains that China continues to bring her products – from paper clips to heavy machineries – to U.S. markets. Meanwhile, U.S. exports to China are at an anemic pace.

Trump accused China of””raping” the U.S. during the 2016 presidential elections.Trump-and-China-mapIt is interesting to note that during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump accused China of currency manipulation. He said that China was “raping” the U.S. through unfair trade practices. And he vowed to straighten things out in Asia. He even took the bold — and daring — step in challenging the “One-China Policy.” However, he stepped back when not even America’s allies agree with him.

In my column, “Trump’s geopolitical miscalculations” (May 12, 2017), I wrote: “After he assumed the presidency, he must have realized that foreign policy – which he had no prior experience – is a complicated and complex game of statesmanship and adroit diplomatic leadership and maneuvering. It must have been a rude awakening for him to recognize that the practice of brinkmanship is quite different from the ‘art of the deal,’ which he proudly claims to be his forte.

“His tough stance against China gave Japan and South Korea, America’s closest treaty allies, a sigh of relief. At last, they have an American president who would stand by them if attacked, unlike Trump’s predecessor, former president Barack Obama, whom he criticized for appeasing China and didn’t do anything to stop China’s construction of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago.

“And to make things worse, he appointed Rex Tillerson to the post of Secretary of State. With no prior experience in foreign policy – or government for that matter – poor Tillerson was thrown into the murky waters of geopolitics. And between him and Trump, how do you think they’d handle bullies like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong-un in the world stage? They are no ordinary world leaders; they are authoritarian dictators who love to threaten the U.S. with nuclear destruction. In particular, North Korea’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Kim Jong-un seems to have rankled Trump who doesn’t appear to know how to handle the unpredictable Kim.”

Good chemistry

After the first Trump-Xi summit at Mar-a-Lago in Florida last April 2016, Trump’s hard-line stance against China melted like marshmallow over a fire. After two days of negotiations, Trump declared that China was not a “currency manipulator” and decided to maintain the status quo on trade issues. That’s a 180-degree turnaround from his position during the presidential campaign.

When Xi went back home, he ordered shipments of coal from North Korea to be turned back. Trump was ebullient when he got the news. He said that China took a “big step” in easing tensions between the two countries. He described his relationship with Xi as one with “good chemistry” and praised Xi for banning North Korean coal.

Sansha City.

Sansha City.

But that was just about it. Banning coal imports from North Korea was just a ruse to make Trump think that China was doing its end of the bargain. Trump felt so good at what he had achieved at Mar-a-Lago that he virtually ceded control of the South China Sea (SCS) to China. With China calling the shots at SCS, it wouldn’t be long before China begins to populate the islands and deploy missiles, warships, warplanes, and troops. There would be Chinese cities on these islands just like Sansha City on the Paracel Islands, which is contested by Vietnam. Sansha has been designated as a prefecture-level city of Hainan. It administers the Paracel Islands, Scarborough Shoal, Spratly Islands, and Macclesfield Bank.

Meanwhile, North Korea was unperturbed by the Chinese ban on North Korea coal and had launched more than a dozen missile tests including detonating a hydrogen bomb. And Xi didn’t lift a finger to stop Kim, who is out of control.

Showcasing Chinese power

Welcoming ceremony for Trump upon his arrival in Beijing.

Welcoming ceremony for Trump upon his arrival in Beijing.

When Trump visited China last week, as part of his five-nation Asian tour, Xi laid out the red carpet for his friend and gave him the royal treatment including a rare official dinner in the Forbidden City and a grand welcoming ceremony featuring hundreds of cheering children in front of the Great Hall of the People. The whole event made the Mar-a-Lago welcoming ceremony for Xi looked like a meeting of two business leaders, which was pretty much what it was.

The welcoming ceremony in Beijing turned out to be more of a showcase of Chinese power and prestige, choreographed for the American viewers, specifically, and the international community, in general. It was a demonstration of Chinese hospitality at its best, and it was orchestrated to project China’s emerging role as a world superpower. A visitor who shows disrespect for the Chinese host would be violating Chinese hospitality customs.

But while the desired effect might have been to show China and America as co-equals, the end result was that Trump handed world leadership to Xi simply by giving what China wants, which is “respect on the global stage” and as a co-equal. During their bilateral meeting, Xi told Trump, “The Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate both China and the U.S.” He said the same thing to Obama during their summit in California in June 2013. Global Times, a Chinese state-run, said Trump “seems to be pragmatic on his Beijing policy, and has no interest in ideological diplomacy.” But Trump could have graciously responded to Xi’s suggestion without disrespecting Xi, and asserted America’s preeminence in the Indo-Pacific Region.

Capitulation

web_Xi, Trump and Kim

web_Xi, Trump and Kim

Unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump did not raise the issue of human rights, knowing that China’s ideology is not compatible with human rights. “He hasn’t used the issue of human rights to make trouble for China so far, and this means the Sino-US relationship can focus on substantive matters,” Global Times said.

But what wiped out any credibility Trump had was when he told his Chinese audience, “I don’t blame China, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens. I give China great credit,” Trump said. He said that what criticism he had for China on trade imbalances was caused by U.S. policy, not Chinese.

In a joint speech, Trump heaped praises on Xi, saying the American people were “very proud” of him and hailing the “very good chemistry” between the two of them. Then he blamed past American administrations for China’s huge trade surplus with the U.S. He then saluted Xi for leading China that he said had left the U.S. “so far behind.” He also said that he could not blame the Chinese for taking advantage of weak American trade policy. Then he said that he was confident that Xi could defuse the threat from North Korea. Didn’t he try that at Mar-a-Lago before… and failed? Xi, on the other hand refused to take questions from American journalists. Why?

However, behind closed doors, American officials said, “Mr. Trump forcefully confronted Mr. Xi about the chronic trade imbalances between the two countries. He also pressed China to take tougher measures toward North Korea, including a suspension of oil shipments.” However, Xi did not make significant concessions, just like what happened at their Mar-a-Lago summit.

Which makes one wonder: “What exactly did Trump accomplish in China? On trade, there were no substantial agreements that would address the trade imbalances. On the North Korea dilemma, Trump consigned to China the responsibility of stopping North Korea, which we know that’s not going to happen simply because China needs North Korea as a buffer against South Korea and the U.S. On global leadership, Trump relinquished it to Xi. Trump has put an end to Pax Americana and what we’re seeing is the emergence of Chinese hegemony — Pax Sinica.

And the only thing that Trump accomplished was that he makes a fool of himself again, which has become so frequent that some people call him, “moron-in-chief.”

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Duterte-and-Roque.3Harry Roque made his mark fighting for people’s human rights. His resume is quite impressive. He is a member of the 17th Congress representing the party-list group Kabayan or Kabalikat ng Mamamayan, which represents marginalized sectors of the Filipino community, the disabled, senior citizens, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), fishermen, farmers, and the poor. He is a lawyer and a human rights advocate. He is a professor at the University of the Philippines.

Lawyer Harry Roque represents relatives of victims of the Maguindanao massacre.

Lawyer Harry Roque represents relatives of victims of the Maguindanao massacre.

Since 2009, Roque has been involved in the Maguindanao massacre case as one of the legal counsels for the families of the 32 media workers killed on November 23, 2009. At least 58 people including the 32 journalists were allegedly slain by armed men led by Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. of the town of Datu Unsay in Maguindanao.

The “professor”

The “Society of Honor: the Philippines” website has the following post about Harry Roque, dated October 12, 2012: “Harry Roque, until today, taught law at the University of the Philippines, Diliman campus. He referred to himself as a “professor” rather than an “attorney.” Today he is resigning, very likely to pursue a seat in the House of Representatives. I’m inclined to think that Mr. Roque views the field of law as a utility, a device, a tool to be used for gains along the way to fame and self-enrichment. He doesn’t view it as a profession requiring the exercise of sound ethical judgment to protect the integrity of his colleague, justice as an ideal, or the nation.

Lawyer Harry Roque with supporters of murdered Jennifer Laude.

Lawyer Harry Roque with supporters of murdered Jennifer Laude.

“Harry Roque, as an attorney, runs his cases through the media and he is “slash and burn” in his style. He’s the guy who received a disbarment complaint for egging the German boyfriend of the murdered Jennifer Laude over the jailhouse fence in order to point the finger at the accused Corporal Pemberton and declare him ‘GUILTY!’ before trial could get started. And before such shenanigans would be considered “in contempt of court.”

“He’s the guy who incited the family of Laude to march against the Philippine/American Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) because Harry knows the value of grief to extract compassion and anger from the public. Harry both opposes the VFA and represents Laude, in separate legal actions. He didn’t mind mixing two unrelated cases in which he has vested interests, and stepping on the dead to gain advantage.

“That’s Harry. Playing games with words and laws and ethics in search for an edge. And for notoriety, I suppose. Who knows what personal neediness drives such stunts. I’d imagine the Supreme Court rolls its collective eyes each time another trivial complaint brief from Harry hits their desks, gumming up their agenda some more.

“Harry Roque represents . . . to me . . . an example of the damaged goods that is Philippine ethics. I think he’d sacrifice the nation to push his personal agenda. He’d go outside the boundaries of decency to gain a point.

“From what I can see, he holds himself above propriety, above the courts, above his fellow lawyers. As far as I can tell, Harry is for Harry; he is not for any common good, and certainly not for respect of those with whom he disagrees.

“If we want to grasp why the Philippines is not a unified nation, we need only observe Harry Roque.”

The “opportunist”

Harry Roque accepts appointment as President Duterte’s spokesperson.

Harry Roque accepts appointment as President Duterte’s spokesperson.

If what the blog said about Harry Roque were true, it would depict him as an “opportunist” who doesn’t have any qualms about what people think of him. And he’d go to the extreme – come hell or high water — to get what he wants.

Last October 28, President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte made a stunning announcement: Roque would be his spokesperson. The announcement was made during Roque’s birthday party held in Davao City. It could have been his best birthday present. Heck this could be Roque’s ticket to winning a Senate seat in 2019. Or it could demolish him politically and banish him into oblivion, never to see daylight again.

Accepting the appointment is the boldest and biggest decision the firebrand human rights advocate/lawyer has made. But what is more mysterious is why the hell did he accept the job, which would require him to defend Duterte from allegations of human rights violations? He would be shredding to pieces all the work he had done to represent the marginalized sectors that include the disabled, elderly Filipinos, and the poorest of the poor.

The “propagandist”

Duterte’s attack dog Harry Roques (L) and the pastor Ernesto Abella (R).

Duterte’s attack dog Harry Roques (L) and the pastor Ernesto Abella (R).

Roque will be replacing the soft-speaking spokesperson Ernesto Abella, who has a rank of undersecretary and is a pastor by profession. Duterte was reportedly unhappy with Abella’s explanations regarding the sharp drop in his ratings. And what did Duterte expect Abella to say why Duterte’s ratings fell 18%? Abella did the best he could say without lying, something you don’t expect a pastor to do.

In an attempt to justify his new role, Roque said (in Filipino) during a TV interview, “He [Duterte] just said Abella is really a pastor. He said this is a not a church and what is needed is someone who can understand his remarks.” This is in reference to Duterte’s fiery remarks and controversial policy statements.

Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.

Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.

So, how would Roque explain the unexplainable? To deliver what’s expected of him, Roque would have to use Joseph Goebbels’ – Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda –mantra, to wit: “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.” It worked in Hitler’s Nazi Germany; it should also work in Duterte’s Philippines.

Duterte justified his appointment of Roque by saying: “To get the message clear, sabi ko [I said], Harry will fit the… kasi medyo malikot ang bunganga naming [because both our mouths are naughty].” Duterte also elevated Roque’s job to a cabinet secretary.

Well, Roque did not disappoint his new boss. Roque plans to attack Duterte’s critics head-on for any negative remark they’d say about him. He warned critics and bashers to be careful with their words because they might meet their match. And in an “attack dog” fashion, Roque served them notice: “Pag nambato kayo, hollow block ang igaganti ko.” [If you throw a stone at us, I’ll throw a hollow block at you].

Revolutionary government

Duterte’s “propaganda minister” Harry Roque.

Duterte’s “propaganda minister” Harry Roque.

In my column, “Revolutionizing martial law” (October 27, 2017), I wrote: “With each passing day, the country’s gloomy situation has evoked fears of martial law. And as criticism against Duterte’s “war on drugs” and extrajudicial killings intensifies, Duterte warned that he’d declare a revolutionary government if his critics’ attempt to ‘destabilize’ the government escalates and causes trouble. He accused the ‘Reds’ (communists) and the ‘Yellows’ (Liberal Party and supporters of former President Benigno Aquino III) of conspiring against him. He said that he’d arrest all of the destabilizers once he declares a revolutionary government, just like what Marcos did when he declared martial law.”

Roque’s appointment as Duterte’s spokesperson would fit well into Duterte’s future revolutionary government, which many believe, is already in the works. He could be Duterte’s “propaganda minister,” a role he would certainly relish with gusto.

And as Duterte unleashes his attack dog, there are two things that the people should be aware of. Goebbels once said: “Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated are confident they are acting on their own free will.” Actually, it’s happening right now in social media where hordes of pro-Duterte netizens and trolls are defending Duterte’s “war on drugs” and state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings. But the irony of it all is that Goebbels had also said: “There will come a day, when all the lies will collapse under their own weight, and truth will once again triumph.” Watch out!

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and President Rodrigo Duterte

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and President Rodrigo Duterte

For someone who led a mutiny against the government, imprisoned for more than six years, ran for senator while lingering in prison, and won a Senate seat without leaving the confines of his detention cell, Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV is facing the biggest challenge in his life. This time he’s locked in battle against President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, the most powerful man in the country. That took a lot of guts. But like they say, “No guts, no glory.” And this time around, Sonny Boy might be thinking that for one more battle to fight, he just might get to taste the sweet flavor of glory. Even for just a moment. After all, this would be like David fighting Goliath. Yes, it would certainly be a moment of sensational victory… more sensational, less victorious. And this begs the question: How is he going to repeat a battle that was more biblical than historical?

Mutinous soldiers led by Philippine Army Major Gerard Gambala, seated left, and Navy Lt. Sr. Grade Antonio Trillanes, seated right, air their grievances during a news conference at the Oakwood Hotel, which they took over before dawn, Sunday, July 27, 2003, in the Makati financial district in Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Mutinous soldiers led by Philippine Army Major Gerard Gambala, seated left, and Navy Lt. Sr. Grade Antonio Trillanes, seated right, air their grievances during a news conference at the Oakwood Hotel, which they took over before dawn, Sunday, July 27, 2003, in the Makati financial district in Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

But Trillanes must have a high regard of himself. The fact that he was able to organize and lead a mutiny against the Arroyo government bespoke of a man guided by a vision of patriotism and a mission of righteousness. He must have dreamed – nay, calculated! — that whatever the denouement his mutiny might have been, he would have earned the respect of the people and rewarded with a seat on the Philippine Senate. Sonny Trillanes reached the apex of power and prominence by sheer guts.

Vice presidential run

But having a seat in the august chamber of the Senate didn’t seem to satisfy him. He tested the murky waters of politics to see if he could make the big step to the vice presidency. There was no reason that he could have failed. He still had that quixotic fervor. He was “mabango” – untainted with no record or complaint of corruption – and he must have been very confident of himself of facing a packed field of vice-presidential wannabes, among which was the heir to the Marcos loot, then Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Little did Sonny know that amongst his rivals for the vice-presidency were two young ladies, one wearing the “yellow” color of the Liberal Party and the other wearing white polo shirt that seemed to suggest “purity of character.”

Trillanes failed miserably in the vice-presidential race due mainly to lack of funds and lack of organization, The other, Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares, who was an early front-runner but she fell out of the race because she couldn’t unload the “excess baggage” that her rivals accused her of.

 Former President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Leni Robredo.

Former President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Leni Robredo.

In the end, the “yellowista” Leni Robredo, the widow of the popular late Jess Robredo, won the vice-presidency. She defeated Bongbong Marcos by some 200,000 votes. The small margin of Leni’s victory gave Bongbong enough reason to file an electoral protest and recount, which is now before the Supreme Court acting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Undaunted by his political setback, Trillanes took his anti-corruption crusade to the Senate. Last February, Trillanes dropped a bombshell when he claimed that Duterte had secret bank accounts. He challenged Duterte to disprove allegations that he had P2 billion in transactions in three bank branches from 2006 to 2015. He also claimed that Duterte’s common-law wife Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña had almost P200 million in bank transactions between 2004 and 2009. Duterte denied the allegations.

Trillanes then asked the Office of the Ombudsman to release Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) records showing Duterte’s flagged transactions in various bank accounts. AMLC denied Trillanes’ request.

Last September, Duterte claimed that Trillanes had “a lot” of bank accounts abroad – in Hong Kong, Australia, and the U.S. Trillanes called it “fake news” and Duterte a liar.

Trillanes meets Rubio

The Duterte-Trillanes feud has gone international when Duterte accused Trillanes of being a “traitor.” The accusation is based on what U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said in a tweet: “Senator @TrillanesSonny & I discussed U.S.- #Philippines alliance, combating corruption & protecting #humanrights amid their narcotics crisis.”

Trillanes confirmed he met with senior US government officials, including Senator Rubio during his recent trip to the U.S. He said his meeting with Rubio focused on “enhancing RP-US relations, corruption, and the human rights situation in the Philippines,” which is pretty much what Rubio said in his tweet. Trillanes also denied a newspaper report that he went to the U.S. to convince officials to stop the state visit of U.S. President Donald Trump, which is scheduled for November.

But in a radio interview last October 22, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar was asked to comment on whether Trillanes should be charged with “treason.” Andanar said it would be up to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to study such “legal matters.”

Senators Ben Cardin (left) and Marco Rubio, ranking members of the Foreign Relations Committee, have filed the bipartisan ‘Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017.

Senators Ben Cardin (left) and Marco Rubio, ranking members of the Foreign Relations Committee, have filed the bipartisan ‘Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017.

It’s interesting to note that last year, Rubio and two other U.S. senators wrote a letter to the U.S. State Department after they visited the Philippines. They expressed “grave concern about the campaign of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations under the Duterte administration.”

In response to Andanar’s comments, Trillanes – Duterte’s toughest critic — said he “pushed for the interests of our country, which are not necessarily the same as the interests of Duterte.”

Act of treason

Trolls accuse Trillanes of treason.

Trolls accuse Trillanes of treason.

While the verbal exchange between Trillanes and Andanar had remained civil, Duterte’s hordes of social media netizens and trolls attacked Trillanes accusing him of treason, which begs the question: Where is all this leading?

It is a known fact that Duterte hates Trillanes for a variety of reasons. Foremost of which are the “war on drugs,” extrajudicial killings, alleged corruption by members of Duterte’s family, and corruption by administration officials. He even went as far as to accuse Duterte’s son, Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, of being a member of a Chinese triad that smuggles the illegal drug “shabu” into the country.

Although Duterte’s “war on drugs” has so far eliminated more than 10,000 drug users, these are mainly poor people. Powerful politicians are believed to be protecting operators of “shabu” manufacturing laboratories.

Senators Richard Gordon (L) and Antonio Trillanes (R) in confrontational mood.

Senators Richard Gordon (L) and Antonio Trillanes (R) in confrontational mood.

Last October 11, Trillanes described the draft report on the P6.4 billion “shabu” shipment from China being routed by Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Sen. Richard Gordon as a “mere cover-up.” He said that those behind the entry of the “shabu” shipment are not being held answerable to the law. “Suspected drug pushers and users are wantonly killed in the streets while the people behind the illegal drug smuggling are merely subjected to a lifestyle check. This is a clear case of cover-up by Senator Richard Gordon to please his political master,” Trillanes said. [Source: SunStar Manila, 10-11-17]

Last October 19, Trillanes filed an ethics complaint against Gordon for committing “slander” and “unparliamentary acts.” Trillanes said Gordon called him a “peddler of gossip” in a Senate blue ribbon hearing on the P6.4-billion worth of smuggled “shabu” on August 31. But it was Gordon who first filed an ethics complaint against Trillanes who had threatened to file plunder charges against Gordon over alleged corruption in the Red Cross.

And now, the DOJ is going to look into Trillanes’ alleged treasonous act because of his meeting with Rubio in the U.S. If the DOJ determines that there is a probable cause to file charges of treason against Trillanes, then the DOJ could initiate a detention order against Trillanes. And once again Trillanes could find himself behind bars for the second time in his life… and probably for life, too.

Which makes one wonder: Is a “demolition job” against Trillanes in the works?

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)