[News Feature: Viewpoint episode with Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV]
“I believe if the opposition loses this one, then that’s it. It’s goodbye democracy and goodbye Philippines.” former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said on Viewpoint episode aired last May 21, 2021.
Despite the criticism fired at him, Trillanes affirmed his intention to run for president in the upcoming 2022 national election.
A staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, Trillanes said that it's time to call him (referring to Duterte) to account for his actions and demand actual solutions to problems.
He reiterated that the issue in the West Philippine Sea is not on the Scarborough Shoal, which was already resolved by former President Benigno Aquino III., but on the Spratlys where there’s a presence of Chinese vessels.
Opposition must win in the 2022 election
“Duterte, for the past five years, has run our country to the ground and it’s about to reach a point of irreversibility especially if they win in 2022,” Trillanes said.
He explained that he presented himself as an opposition candidate this early because if done in September, it will already be a little late to prepare.
Trillanes intends to be the beacon of the 1Sambayan, an opposition coalition for the presidential nomination in the 2022 national election, should Vice President Leni Robredo decide not to run for the highest position.
However, Robredo, although still undecided until now, clarified that she is open to run in any position in the upcoming election.
We are facing an existential crisis and that is why the opposition must win the 2022 national election, Trillanes said.
On winnability, Trillanes cited his experience in the 2007 election where he won a senate seat even if he was in prison after he was charged with rebellion following the Oakwood Mutiny during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The issue on backchannel talks with China concerning the 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff was revived when former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile shared his insights with President Rodrigo Duterte in a briefing last May 17.
Enrile accused Trillanes of bypassing Manila’s Ambassador to China by doing back-channel meetings with Beijing.
But he clarified that those kinds of meetings are not illegal and were already done before by previous government administrations.
“Another foreign policy tool is the backchannel, legal po iyan...ginagamit yan ng mga states to resolve the crisis,” Trillanes said.
West Philippine Sea issue
When asked if he sees a turning point in President Rodrigo Duterte's action towards the conflict in the West Philippine Sea, he said that Duterte feels the pressure so he needs to play into the crowd, hoping that the pressure would be lessened.
"What Duterte did differently nung nag assume siya, he prevented the naval patrols in the West Philippine Sea. When I was still at the navy, kapag may fishing boat, hinuhuli namin. It is not happening anymore. Kaya yung sinasabing posturing na yan, that's all for a show because the real work, dapat hinuhuli niyo yan."
Trillanes suggested that the government should consider other diplomatic options by joining other nations in the freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea.
“I can't imagine people falling into the trap of believing in Duterte. This president is pathological in his lying. It's going to be a big mistake to keep on believing him.” he said.
Watch the full episode here: