Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV

Purple S. Romero

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He says he will base his decision on 'political acceptability'


Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV
Failed by the Court

MANILA, Philippines – Under the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Navy Lt. Sg. Antonio Trillanes IV was in jail. He faced rebellion charges for leading a mutiny in the upscale Oakwood Premiere apartments in Makati in 2003. While incarcerated, he ran in the 2007 senatorial elections and won, but for 3 years remained locked up.

In 2007, he asked the Supreme Court to allow him to attend the Senate sessions, but the Court ruled against him unanimously (including then Associate Justice Renato Corona). “The performance of legitimate and even essential duties by public officers has never been an excuse to free a person validly in prison,” the SC explained in denying his request.

Months after President Benigno Aquino III became president in 2010, or 5 days before Christmas of that year, Trillanes was granted temporary liberty.

In January 2011, he, along with 94 other military officers, took their oath to uphold the 1987 Constitution – the last step needed to have their amnesty completed. The amnesty clears Trillanes of all administrative and criminal charges previously filed against him.

This major difference in Trillanes’s life under the Arroyo and Aquino administrations could define his decision on the impeachment trial against Corona.

The disgruntled former navy official – who led another standoff in Peninsula Makati in 2007 – could choose to make political debt as one of the determining factors in making his vote in a trial whose outcome is not fully controlled by Malacañang. Trillanes is associated with the Senate bloc of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, which includes Gregorio Honasan II, Vicente Sotto III and Jinggoy Estrada. But he is also counted as an Aquino ally.

Another factor that could make Trillanes cast his vote against Corona is his disdain for the one who had appointed the impeached Chief Justice, then President Arroyo.

Trillanes has said that impeachment is a political process, and that his main criterion for voting would be “political acceptability.” He said, however, that he would heed “political acceptability” on the strength of the evidence presented. “…The strength or weakness of the evidence, and how they are presented could very well affect the political acceptability of either policy alternative. Having said this, it would help if the prosecutors and defense counsels would not to be too technical in their presentations. Ultimately, they would have to win the hearts and minds of the people,” he said weeks before the impeachment trial began in January.

Age: 40

Education: Graduated cum laude from the Philippine Military Academy (1995), completed his masters degree in public administration in the UP Open

Profession: Navy officer

Senate committee: Civil service and government reorganization

Current term: 2007 to 2013

Eligible for reelection? Yes. Trillanes is currently serving his first 6-year term.

Political party: He ran as a guest candidate under the Genuine Opposition party in 2007

Position published or aired on Corona or on issues contained in the Articles of Impeachment:
Trillanes was against the issuance of a travel authority for Arroyo and her husband, lawyer Jose Miguel. The Arroyo couple wanted to meet medical specialists on bone diseases abroad, as the former president suffers from a metabolic bone disorder and had undergone spinal surgery thrice in 2011.

The SC later issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the Department of Justice from enforcing its travel ban against the Arroyos, but Justice Secretary Leila de Lima defied it. Trillanes said this did not not mean the executive is above the SC, adding that the matter should be assessed within the context of what kind of Court issued it.

“First of all, this Supreme Court that we have right now is the same Supreme Court that she had. Practically she appointed these people there and the Supreme Court is not infallible,” he said. –


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