JPE'S 'PHANTOM OF THE OPERA' OF PHL POLITICS: SEN. ANTONIO TRILLANES IV
[PHOTO -PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Enrile accuses Trillanes, who reportedly volunteered to negotiate with China, of being a ‘fraud’ and a ‘fifth columnist,’ or traitor. Enrile said he was out to unmask the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ of Philippine politics. LYN RILLON-- GLORIA’S LACKEY Trillanes says Enrile is working for former President Arroyo, ‘bullying’ senators to force passage of the bill dividing Camarines Sur into two provinces. He announced he was quitting the majority in the Senate because he had lost faith in Enrile’s leadership. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA]
MANILA, SEPTEMBER 24, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Cathy C. Yamsuan, Norman Bordadora - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday disclosed notes written by Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady that he said showed Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV was working for Beijing in the dispute between the Philippines and China over Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
On the day the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an exclusive report outlined the emergence of Trillanes as President Benigno Aquino’s back-channel negotiator working independently of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Enrile read into the Senate record Brady’s purported notes of a meeting with the junior senator.
[PHOTO -Trillanes storms out of Senate after being outed for engaging in ‘backroom negotiations’ with China]
This followed a rare clash on the Senate floor before a national TV audience when Trillanes, who walked out as Enrile was interpellating him, accused the Senate President of being a “lackey” of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The Senate President ticked off 20 items in the Brady notes, including a point Trillanes purportedly said that in the Philippines “no one cares” about Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), where Manila had a confrontation with Beijing in April when the Philippine Navy intervened to stop the poaching of endangered marine species and corals by Chinese fishermen.
“I do not want to discuss anymore this sordid matter. It is enough that I read the notes of Ambassador Brady to unmask this ‘Phantom of the Opera’ in Philippine politics. My God, this guy is a fraud.”
He also called Trillanes a “fifth columnist”—referring to a clandestine force in Madrid supporting rebels from within—before he walked off the rostrum.
The harsh exchanges between Trillanes and Enrile revealed deep divisions in the conduct of Philippine diplomatic initiatives in the standoff with China.
Del Rosario’s curt remarks
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario (photo), in a series of interviews with senior Inquirer reporter Gil Cabacungan, complained that “while back-channeling has its purpose, it’s doing more harm than good.” He said that it was important that “we speak with one voice on this matter.”
In the interviews, Trillanes accused Del Rosario of drawing the United States into the dispute that he said tended to exacerbate tensions instead of ease them.
On Wednesday, Del Rosario issued a curt message, saying he would not dignify accusations by Trillanes.
“The DFA executes the foreign policy of the President. We will not dignify those who are working to divide us,” Del Rosario said.
Privilege speech on CamSur
In a privilege speech on Camarines Sur, Trillanes decried Enrile’s alleged “bullying” of other senators just so the Senate would approve the controversial bill dividing Camarines Sur into two provinces.
He said Enrile was either “deeply indebted to” or a “lackey” of Arroyo. He said Arroyo had “personally called up” the Senate President to ask that he “speed up the measure.”
Enrile accused Trillanes of trying to control the damage wrought by the Inquirer report. He said Trillanes delivered a privilege speech on the Camarines Sur bill to “camouflage” his mistake.
According to Enrile, the items in the Brady report dated Aug. 17 purported to show:
That the Chinese wanted the Philippines to “tone down the rhetoric” on its incursion in Panatag Shoal.
That Trillanes suspected that the United States was involved in creating tension in Panatag Shoal and that Del Rosario was “committing treason.”
That Trillanes “was protecting the Chinese,” “was alarmist” and accused Del Rosario of “creating a war event.”
That Trillanes asked businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, a close friend of Del Rosario, to advise the secretary “to keep quiet, to quiet down” apparently because the secretary held a press conference decrying Chinese presence in Panatag Shoal
That Trillanes stated “no one cares about Panatag Shoal in the Philippines.”
That Trillanes said the Philippines “cannot enforce coastal protection” since fishermen subsist only on fishing and cannot venture far out.
That Trillanes boasted that he was able to make 40 Chinese ships leave Panatag Shoal.
That Trillanes volunteered to become the “direct channel” between China and Malacañang.
Enrile also said Brady quoted Trillanes saying that Del Rosario should be replaced by incoming Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas.
Before Enrile took out Brady’s notes, he and Trillanes engaged in a heated debate following the younger senator’s speech.
Raising the bullying charge, Enrile asked whether there had been any instance when he asked Trillanes “to vote according to my wishes.”
“That’s irrelevant,” Trillanes shot back.
“You’re telling falsehoods here. You are angry at me because you asked me for an additional budget in your oversight committee and I did not allow it,” the Senate President revealed.
Special envoy status
Enrile also recalled that after Trillanes won a Senate seat while incarcerated in Camp Crame for leading the Oakwood mutiny in 2003, he “went out of my way to talk to people to guarantee your presence in the Senate” in an effort to convince authorities to free Trillanes.
Enrile said Trillanes apparently resented his question during a Cabinet meeting in May on who authorized Trillanes to talk to the Chinese.
“The President told it to your face,” Trillanes said, referring to his special envoy status given by Malacañang.
“Wasn’t it your duty to notify the Office of the Senate President when you leave this country?” I don’t know how many times you have been to China but I recall six times? I am now hearing reports you were there 15 times,” Enrile noted.
“Are you becoming the fifth columnist of China in this country? Who paid for those trips to Beijing?” he then asked Trillanes.
Enrile then showed the Brady notes and asked whether Trillanes would want him to read them.
“Those might reveal sensitive information on foreign relations and national security,” Trillanes warned.
“Do not teach me about proceedings,” Enrile answered in a raised voice.
Out of order
At this point, Trillanes walked out of the session hall.
“He’s a coward. Senator Trillanes even instructed Mrs. Brady not to take notes,” Enrile said and began to read from the ambassador’s report.
“The Senate President may reveal sensitive information pertaining to foreign relations and national security and I believe it is out of order,” Trillanes had warned the floor.
Trillanes said his trips to China were authorized by President Aquino (photo).
“I have already informed the people. I’m not obliged to inform the Senate President and all this line of questioning is irrelevant again. And should this line of questioning continue I will have to say that I will refuse to yield anymore,” Trillanes said.
“Either way, I have lost trust, faith and confidence in Senator Enrile’s capability to lead the Senate along the path consistent with the reform agenda that I espouse,” he added.
Trillanes, a member of the Nacionalista Party, said he was leaving the majority coalition in the Senate and joining the minority.
How Trillanes got his job as special negotiator for shoal standoff By Maila Ager INQURER.net 4:02 pm | Wednesday
[PHOTO - Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. Photo by INQUIRER.net’s Noy Morcoso III]
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III has appointed Senator Antonio Trillanes IV as special envoy to help in the government’s negotiation with China over the Scarborough shoal dispute, the senator himself said on Wednesday.
“[It’s a] back-channel arrangement so meaning I was the especial envoy of the President,” Trillanes told reporters in the Senate.
“Yes I had the authority of the President,” he said when asked if the appointment was made formal.
But asked again if the appointment was put in black and white, the senator said, “No black and white [deal].”
Trillanes quickly pointed out however that the President himself during a Cabinet meeting has announced that he had authorized him to talk in behalf of the government.
He also corrected presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s statement that it was him who approached the President to help in the negotiation.
It was Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Trillanes said, who asked him to help the government in one of their conversations sometime in May this year.
REVISITING: THE 2007 BOTCHED UP PENINSULA MANILA HOTEL REBELLION
[Senator Antonio Trillanes (R) walks from a court to a luxury hotel in Makati City, Manila November 29, 2007. Philippine military and police teams stormed a luxury hotel in Manila on Thursday to end a short-lived coup attempt by a small group of soldiers and others who had called on the army to mutiny. Government forces fired teargas into the lobby of the Manila Peninsula Hotel and used an armoured personnel carrier (APC) to batter down its glass doors before storming in under cover of repeated bursts of fire in the air.]
FROM WIKIPEDIA, NOVEMBER 29, 2007- THE STORY OF TRILLANES' IMPRISONMENT
The Manila Peninsula rebellion occurred on November 29, 2007 at The Peninsula Manila hotel in Makati, Philippines. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Brigadier General Danilo Lim, and 25 other Magdalo (mutineers) officers walked out of their trial and marched through the streets of Makati.
The mutineers called for the ousting of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and seized the Rizal function room on the second floor of the Manila Peninsula Hotel along Ayala Avenue. Former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona, Jr. as well as some of the soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines joined the march to the hotel.
After several hours, Trillanes and Lim surrendered to government forces after a military armored personnel carrier barged into the glass door of the hotel lobby and the hotel walls and windows sustained weapons damage. Trillanes and the mutineers were arrested while several journalists covering the event were detained. The journalists were subsequently released.
[PHOTO -Location of Oakwood Premiere and The Peninsula Manila in Makati. These hotels had become the location of the Magdalo mutiny of 2003 and 2007, respectively.]
Led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, thirty soldiers with armed guards, on trial for the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, walked out of court and marched towards the luxury Peninsula Manila Hotel.
They were joined by former vice-president Teofisto Guingona, Jr., who called the gathering "New EDSA". They were also joined by other military personnel and civilians carrying M-16 or M-14 rifles.
The soldiers, some of whom were carrying and wearing Magdalo (mutineers) flags and pins, marched along Makati Avenue and occupied The Peninsula Manila Hotel's second floor. Sen. Trillanes and Brig. Gen. Lim stayed in the Rizal function room negotiating most of the time.
[PHOTO- The Peninsula Manila as seen from Ayala cor. Makati Avenue, where the rebellion took place.]
Arroyo called for an emergency Cabinet meeting as she took a helicopter back to the Malacañan Palace amid tight security.
Novaliches Catholic Bishop Antonio Tobias, Infanta Bishop Emeritus Julio Labayen, Jimmy Regalario of the Kilusang makabansang Ekonomiya, Father Robert Reyes, former University of the Philippines president Francisco Nemenzo, Bishop Julius Labayen, Bishop Antonio Tobias, and Fr. Robert Reyes joined Trillanes's group, as Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Presidential Spokesperson-Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye rushed back to Malacañang.
The Presidential Security Group sealed off the Palace while troops secured the North and South Luzon Expressways. A website soon appeared, proclaiming Lim and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV as the leaders of the coup.
The website entry read: "Senator Antonio Trillanes, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, Magdalo soldiers, their guards and the people have started marching towards Makati triangle. [...] We presently find in existence a dangerous concept where the armed forces now owe their primary allegiance and loyalty to those who temporarily exercise the authority of the executive branch of the government rather than to the country and the Constitution they have sworn to protect.
[PHOTO -Special forces prepare for an assault on a luxury hotel where coup plotters took over the building in Makati City, Manila November 29, 2007. The latest coup bid in the Philippines ended on Thursday in a military assault on a luxury hotel and a fusillade of shots but no casualties. Elite military and police units stormed the Manila Peninsula Hotel, a plush icon in the sprawling city of 12 million people, and arrested rebel soldiers, a senator and a handful of priests who had taken over the building and called on the army to mutiny.]
That is a concept we defy and struggle to eradicate. If you believe you are a man of will and courage with unselfish motives and brave enough to fight against such tyranny, rise up and be counted!" The Philippine National Police declared a red alert status in Metro Manila as a result of the incident.
At 2:46 pm PST, Police Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, ordered everyone inside the Manila Peninsula to vacate, according to reports on radio and television. "I am asking all guests of the hotel to leave so that we can do our jobs," Barias said in a live interview. Siege and assault
The Philippine military rushed at least three battalions of infantry, consisting of roughly 1,500 troops, to Metro Manila's Makati business district to crush the mutiny.
The Philippine Marines on Thursday said it would be loyal to the chain of command and would help crush the rebellion led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim. The Marines sent three armored personnel carriers and two trucks of troops to Makati to support government police and military units in the area.
Judge Oscar Pimentel, Makati Regional Trial Court, issued an arrest warrant and Director Geary Barias, National Capital Region Police Office director, stated "Arrests will be made at 3 pm". The Philippine National Police (PNP) gave Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim until this time to surrender, as it evacuated guests and personnel inside
The Peninsula Manila Hotel. Lim stated: "We make this fateful step of removing Mrs. Macapagal Arroyo from the presidency and undertake the formation of a new government."
The planned assault was held off until 3:58 pm. At 3:58 pm, 50 Special Weapons and Tactics commandos lined up outside The Peninsula Manila Hotel to enforce the arrest of rebel soldiers.
The commandos, who were carrying gas masks, went into formation after rebel soldiers refused to accept warrants for their arrest. There were indications that the armed rebel soldiers inside the hotel were ready for battle.
Armored personnel carriers and Armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) of the police and the military were also dispatched around the building. The movement intensified after 4 pm, when policemen in full-battle gear fired warning shots as they prepared to storm the hotel. Footage taken by ABS-CBN Sky Patrol showed Special Weapons and Tactics commandos moving in battle formation towards the hotel.
Glass on the windows was broken to allow the dispersal of tear gas to those held up inside the hotel. Afterwards, an exchange of fire was heard between the military and the Magdalo Group.
Firing stopped at 4:30 pm. Bishop Julio Labayen appealed: "Please do not storm the place.. so nobody gets hurt." (4:37 pm) Various TV and radio crews, as well as other media personnel, were trapped in the hotel, while the Palace appealed to media and the public to stay away from Makati.
[PHOTO -Hotel guests leave the Peninsula Hotel after coup plotters took over the building in Makati City, Manila November 29, 2007.]
The AFV broke into hotel lobby at 5:10 pm, with soldiers pouring into the hotel.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim decided to surrender to the arresting authorities to avoid loss of lives as several journalists and other civilians were with them. Director Geary Barias declared that the standoff at the Manila Peninsula Hotel was over as the mutinuous soldiers agreed to leave the hotel and surrender to Barias after the 6 hour siege (5:30 pm).
[PHOTO -In an interview in his detention cell in Camp Bonifacio, by Ellen Tordesillas, Trillanes offers no apology to what he and some 300 members of the Magdalo group did last July 27, 2003, which was to declare a withdrawal of support from a president who they believe betrayed the trust of the people. Although his entry into politics indicates that he is going mainstream in pursuing reforms in governance that he envisions, he says radical means cannot be totally ruled out if the government goes against the interest of the people. He said Arroyo has made the situation ripe for it.
Trillanes, Lim, and their cohorts, and Guingona were arrested by the Philippine National Police and were sent to National Capital Region Police Office headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig. ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, Bloomberg News, NHK, DWIZ, Manila Bulletin and Malaya journalists who were covering the event were also arrested.
All of them were asked to leave their belongings and to not bring anything with them. They were advised by a lawyer not to talk as what the police were doing was against the law and violated their rights.
Roman Catholic priest Fr. Robert Reyes and Bishop Julio Labayen were also seen boarding the same bus where the arrested press correspondents were transported in. The Special Action Force was involved in arresting Brigadier General Danilo Lim.
Trillanes said he was ready to face whatever charges the government will give him.
In a TV interview with ABS-CBN, National Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro (photo) defended the arrests of media reporters as the arresting officers "didn't know the journalists and may have mistook them as renegade soldiers," although it should be noted that several of these journalists were hosting several prominent TV programs. Several journalists, mostly from TV and radio, were released at the NCRPO HQ.
It was announced that a curfew from midnight to 5 am will be implemented in the regions of Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON for the night of November 29–30.
The Philippine National Police ordered a manhunt for the soldiers who escaped from the hotel, including Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon; meanwhile, several persons of interest were detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig. Several journalists were also "processed" at Camp Bagong Diwa and were subsequently released. On December 1, fifty individuals, including Trillanes, were charged of rebellion at inquest proceedings.
On December 3, the Peninsula Manila became fully operational with an estimated damage at US$ 1.2 million.
[PHOTO OF THE PENINSULA MANILA TODAY, FROM FACEBOOK]
The next day, Armed Forces chief-of-staff Hermogenes Esperon announced the arrest of Communist New People’s Army operative Myrna Hombrebueno in connection with the rebellion, proving the connection between the Communists and rebels.
Had Trillanes succeeded, according to Esperon, a National Transition Council (NTC), allegedly would replace the Arroyo administration, and the Philippines put under a "lean and mean" military and police force (per 5-page document – "Proposed Program").
Razon himself revealed that a "female press reporter" provided Faeldon a fake press I.D. card that caused his escape and that he is still inside Metro Manila. Razon also sacked the Makati City police chief for failure to prevent the walk-out.
The Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC), upon receiving the cases on December 6, dismissed the cases against Guingona, Reyes, and other civilians, on December 13.
Local community Chief Justice Reynato Puno reiterated that he is not interested in a proposal to head a caretaker government if President Arroyo is removed from power.
Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, a former Armed Forces chief of staff, said he hopes that the situation will not end up in "soldiers killing each other. I hope no more officers and even enlisted men are going to be sacrificed because they were either influenced or they were ordered to do things. I hope the turn of events [is] not going to be rejected by our people,"
Sen. Gregorio Honasan, who was implicated in the Oakwood mutiny, called for calm and sobriety.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri called on the government to begin the negotiation efforts. He suggested that Honasan is the "best person" to lead the negotiations.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., meanwhile, said he supports the calls for President Arroyo’s resignation but he said these should be done through peaceful means.
Sen. Benigno Aquino III said the move of Trillanes reflects the "utter frustrations" of many Filipinos.
Sen. Manuel Roxas II, however, said any call for reforms should be done through legitimate programs and not through force.
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said that President Arroyo will not declare a state of emergency because of the mutiny.
Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said law enforcers were given internal guidelines on how to handle Trillanes and his group.
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro has ordered the re-arrest of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brigadier Gen. Danny Lim.
Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said, "We will finish it today"
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz declared his support to the Rebel-turned-Senator Trillanes and echoed his call for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief General Hermogenes Esperon meanwhile said that that they will take full measures to prevent any trouble in the area.
Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno of the Philippine Military Academy said that they are now on alert as well. Nepomuceno said that there have been no reactions from the cadets in the academy.
CBCP president and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo stated that the standoff and curfew serve as preview to Martial Law: "Yesterday and last night, the people hold-in at Peninsula Manila had a foretaste of what Martial Law could be. God save us from the worse!"
The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) [Burd Wang, Manila Correspondent of Guangming Daily of China] stated in a letter to Ignacio Bunye that the journalists arrested were "treated arbitrarily by authorities; We hope, that through your office, there will be no repetition of this deplorable action."
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said in a statement that the Philippine National Police (PNP) treated the journalists as "enemies of the state. We protest in strongest terms the PNPs move to forcibly bring some journalists to the National Capital Region Police Office in Bicutan and condemn the confiscation of video footage of the day-long stand-off at the Manila Peninsula Hotel."
Accordingly, the PNP leadership apologized to media representatives and crew, but it refused to accept that their response was "overkill".
Mariano Garchitorena, the Manila Peninsula hotel’s public manager, stated that: Trillanes and company were gentlemen "To be fair di naman sila nag-abuso ng hotel namin (To be fair, they did not abuse our hotel staff). They were very gentlemanly in their act. They did not bother our staff and they did not bother our guests; He (Trillanes) assured us that they meant no harm to civilian to guests and all our staff of course."
The Philippine Press Institute, in a statement, described the detention of mediamen as an “unprecedented assault on press freedom. Patently unconstitutional and carried out with such impunity that the innocent captives were treated like common criminals, cuffed, ordered to raise their hands in surrender, and bussed to the country's most notorious camp, Bagong Diwa, in Bicutan.”
Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. agreed with Trillanes that there should be "reforms at the top; the rule of law must prevail in our people’s collective cry for reforms; Without a doubt we need reforms at the top. That is the reason we launched the moral revolution so the nation can retake the moral high ground and decisively move from the continuing crisis in our midst to a renewal of our values."
Judge Oscar Pimentel, Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148 said "the walkout (actions) of some of the accused were an entirely different case and has no bearing from the one being tried before his chamber".
Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno chided Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay to punish Makati police officials for not immediately informing him about the Siege, instead of blaming the Philippine National Police.
Sen. Jamby Madrigal, who was the biggest campaign contributor of Trillanes when he ran for senator,did not visit Trillanes at Camp Crame detention center and parted ways: “Thank you, Sonny (Trillanes’s nickname). But let us just part ways."
Australia: The Australian Embassy cautioned their citizens and said, "Australians are advised to avoid the immediate area. Further demonstrations could occur over the weekend (December 1–2, 2007)"
Canada: Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has posted a warning on its website for Canadians living in the Philippines to be careful with the implementation of the curfew.
Singapore: Singapore has advised any Singaporeans in Manila to monitor any changes regarding the mutiny and to check in with the Singaporean embassy.
South Korea: South Korea has advised all South Korean citizens and nationals to avoid going to the Manila Peninsula for the next 4/5 days as a safety precaution. The South Korean President also said they do not support any military coup de`etat such as the Manila Peninsula Rebellion or the Oakwood Mutiny.
United Kingdom: The British Embassy advised its nationals to exercise caution and take sensible precautions, and avoid large crowds and gatherings. The statement said, "You should exercise caution and take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid any large crowds, political gatherings and demonstrations. You should also keep yourself informed of developments and follow the advice of local authorities"
United States: "The United States and the Philippines are long-time democratic allies and the US Embassy wishes to take this opportunity to reiterate our government's support for the rule of law, constitutional order, and the government of the Philippines; a statement from the US Embassy in Manila said, U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney has spoken with officials at Malacañan Palace to reiterate our confidence that this incident is swiftly and peacefully resolved by the Philippine National Police, supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in accordance with Philippine law." Kenney stated: "No, we do not support extra-constitutional means to change government, in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world, I think it's always disturbing when you see people behaving contrary to the rule of law and constitutional authority; Washington will continue to "remain a very, very strong ally" of Arroyo, who is President George W. Bush's key ally in the Southeast Asian theatre of the US-led "war on terror; "We want this country to move forward."
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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