Trillanes: Duterte wooing AFP to use as ‘tool for oppression’

Camille Elemia

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Trillanes: Duterte wooing AFP to use as ‘tool for oppression’
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV denies the claims of President Rodrigo Duterte that he is corrupt and that he has done nothing for the military

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV believes that President Rodrigo Duterte is wooing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) because he wants to use the military as a “tool for oppression.”

Trillanes made the statement on Saturday, September 8, as he hit back at Duterte for again ranting against the senator and for belittling his contributions to the AFP.

“Unang-una, ano ba hangarin niya, bakit niya niliigawan ang Armed Forces? Dahil ba gusto niya talagang maayos ang kapakanan nila? Hindi, dahil gagamitin niya as a tool for oppression,” Trillanes said in a press conference at the Senate, where he has been staying since Tuesday, September 4.

(First of all, what is his motive for wooing the Armed Forces? Is it because he is really concerned for them? No, it’s because he wants to use them as a tool for oppression.)

Trillanes, who faces arrest based on a presidential order voiding his amnesty granted in 2011, earlier called on the military not to allow itself to be politicized.

On Saturday, the President again lashed out at Trillanes upon his arrival from official visits to Israel and Jordan. He accused the former Navy officer of being corrupt and abandoning the military. 

The AFP issued a statement on Friday, September 7, that it remained united  amid the Trillanes controversy, and that it is “committed to the chain of command and the rule of law.” Trillanes had said as much also on Friday, saying he had no doubt that the AFP would be loyal to “its promised mandate before the Constitution.”

Battle over AFP?

Duterte said he was responsible for soldiers’ pay hike. He signed a joint congressional resolution increasing the base pay of military and police in January 2018.

Itong si Trillanes, sundalo. Nagmake believe siya doon sa mga sundalo na he was all for the military, and he never gave a hoot… Ako wala ako, isang beses lang ako nagsabi, kampanya. ‘I will double your salary.’ Period. Takdang panahon ibinigay ko. Siya, military siya. Malapit siya kay [Noynoy] Aquino. Nandiyan si Volts [Gazmin]),” the President said.

(Trillanes is a soldier. He made soldiers believe that he was all for the military, and he never gave a hoot. Me, I only said once, in the campaign, “I will double your salary.” Period. In due time I gave it. In his case, he’s in the military. He’s close to [Noynoy] Aquino. Volts [Gazmin] was also there.)

Trillanes strongly denied the allegation and said he was the primary author of the AFP modernization law and the Salary Standardization Act, which raised the pay of government workers.

Senate records show that Trillanes, Senator Panfilo Lacson, and Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto are the authors of the revised AFP modernization law signed by then-president Benigno Aquino III in 2012.

“Lahat ng iba’t ibang kampo, nagpagawa tayo ng iba’t ibang infrastructure, whether barracks ng enlisted men, club rooms ng mga opisyal, quarters ng mga opisyal – sa lahat ng mga iba’t ibang kampo sa buong Pilipinas. Alam ng sundalo ‘yan,” he said.

(In different camps nationwide, we built various infrastructure, whether barracks for enlisted men, club rooms or quarters for officials. Soldiers know that.)

“‘Yung mga binibili niyang gamit, hindi magagawa kung wala ang AFP Modernization Law…. Ang dinoble lang niya (Duterte), private lang ah. Ang mga opisyal, mas mataas sana ang kikitain nila kung ‘yung executive order ni President Aquino ang ginamit. Lahat ‘yan, instrumental tayo diyan,” Trillanes said.

(The equipment he’s buying won’t be possible without the AFP Modernization Law..,. What he doubled was the salary of the privates only. The officials would have gained more if the executive order of President Aquino was used. We were instrumental in all of that.)

The senator was referring to the joint resolution which benefits the lowest-ranked uniformed personnel most, with a nearly 100% increase in their base pay.

Duterte, through Proclamation 572, has ordered the revocation of the amnesty granted to Trillanes in 2011, citing the senator’s supposed failure to apply and admit guilt. Documents obtained by Rappler, however, showed Trillanes complied with both.

Duterte ordered the military to conduct a warrantless arrest against Trillanes, saying it is his prerogative. He, however, changed his tune, saying he would now wait for a court decision on Trillanes’ arrest. (READ: Duterte rules out warrantless arrest of Trillanes) –

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.