'Troublemaker' Trillanes' bottomline: Honor and service

Posted at 03/03/14 9:15 PM

Antonio Trillanes

MANILA -- Senator Antonio 'Sonny' Trillanes IV has always been vocal about his opinions on national issues which has earned him the tag "troublemaker."

In an interview with Boy Abunda on "The Bottomline," the senator said he does not consider being called a troublemaker as something negative, explaining that people coming from different walks of life have different perspectives.

"From the perspective of people involved in those exercises, you'd understand why these things are happening," he said, alluding to his participation in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

Trillanes went on to explain why he and the rest of the members of the Magdalo faction revolted against the administration of then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

He said he told Mrs. Arroyo about the problems inside the military, but she did not do anything about it. He and the other soldiers took their case to the public as a last resort.

He narrated an incident wherein a fellow soldier was ordered to throw a grenade at a mosque to elicit a reaction from the Muslim community.

"Hindi kasama sa training namin yun. It was supposed to be a series of terroristic acts perpetrated by soldiers against civilians."

He added that their issues were trivialized, with the media only focusing on corruption inside the military when, in fact, they were also against the acts of violence against civilians.

When asked to comment about corrupt generals and how they seem to violate the strict honor code inside the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), Trillanes said people tend to focus on corrupt generals instead of the honest ones.

"Sa atin po kasi nakatingin tayo sa mga tiwali, pero nakakalimutan na po natin ang libo-libong nagsisilbi sa bayan."

The Honor Code

As a former member of the honor committee when he was in the PMA, he explained how cadets strictly adhere to the code while inside the academy. What they do once they go out, however, is another story.

"Paglabas ho kasi ng PMA, wala na yung system. Yung iba, bitbit nila, nainternalize nila. Yung iba, dahil sa sobrang higpit sa loob, dahil sa temptations, nagiging tiwali. Kung nayakap nila ang honor code, regardless of temptation, dapat impervious sila."

He said that without the honor code, soldiers may be corrupt even while inside the academy.

Once outside the academy, a soldier tends to strictly adhere to the leadership structure.

"Kung maayos ang lider, magiging maayos ang sundalo."

Trillanes also expressed his opinion on key issues surrounding the Senate. He said he is aware that people are losing their respect for lawmakers.

However, he added that people shouldn't lose their respect for the institution even if they do not respect senators.

"Hindi ho dapat nakakabawas sa respeto sa institusyon ang pagaaway-away ng mga senador. The institution is bigger. Kung hindi mo nagugustuhan ang inasal ng isang senador, huwag mong iboto."

He also believes that senators, as individuals, can still do a lot to regain the trust of the public.

No to death penalty

Having spent more than seven years in jail, Trillanes does not support the death penalty because of the flawed justice system.

"Kung may death penalty, may mabibitay tayo na inosente."

He added that he experienced things inside jail that brought him back to earth, and that his perspective changed after being imprisoned.

Trillanes also talked about his proposal to revise the Salary Standardization Law, which aims to provide higher salaries not only to teachers, but to all government officials.

The senator said higher salaries can be an anti-corruption scheme.

"And difference lang ng salary grade 1 to 2 ay mga P600 lang. There is no incentive for promotion. Ang gusto nating gawin, as you go up the ladder, malaki na ang diperensiya niya bawat salary grade."

Trillanes is also pushing for the creation of an Emergency Management Agency, which would replace the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

"We cannot even pronounce it (NDRRMC) in times of emergency. It’s a council composed of 39 different agencies of the government. They cannot even fit into one conference room, at wala pong pondo."

With the EMA, he hopes to make things simpler by giving the agency direct access to the president and to calamity funds, allowing it to preposition relief goods and equipment to disaster prone areas.

When asked if he thinks he is more relevant now as a senator or before as a soldier, Trillanes believes that both roles are important.

"I believe I am more into the consciousness of the public now, but I would like to believe that my role then as a soldier of the republic is as important as what I am doing now."