MANILA, JUNE 19, 2007
(STAR) THE FREEMAN - Antonio Trillanes, a former Navy junior officer and leader of a mutiny by disgruntled soldiers, is now a senator. One of the first things he would do as a senator, he said, is to investigate military involvement in summary killings of government critics.

This is precisely what we have always feared the moment we started allowing coup plotters to run for elective positions in government, on the mistaken notion that we would rather have them in a place where they can be watched than somewhere else plotting behind our backs.

Our fears center on the clear contradictions that these types represent. Right or wrong, these people have principles that fired them up with sufficient conviction and intensity as to actually try to change things by any manner, which in their case involved extrajudicial means.

To mount a coup attempt is to break the chain of command, take extrajudicial shortcuts, undermine lawful authority, disrupt peace and order, put the lives of everyone in harm's way, and destabilize the economy.

For whatever reason that a coup is mounted, this means for change is always a mistake. It is not good. It is harmful. It may even be evil. This inherently evil desire does not vanish overnight, not even if one is elected senator and soon gets to be addressed honorable.

So Trillanes now wants to crack down on one of the evil aspects of the military establishment of which he once was a part, and tried to undermine by hotheaded breach of proper conduct. How real can he get? Which part of him is doing the thinking?

Trillanes cannot be serious about wanting to put a stop to extrajudicial killings when he himself once embarked on an extrajudicial experiment. Not that we do not want extrajudicial killings stopped. But, hey, are we being taken for a ride or what?

Trillanes is young. His ideals, though perverted, are still strong, his passion to pursue them unyielding and uncompromising. If he can do something about the bad eggs in the military, go ahead, why not? It's just that we cannot but be haunted by the memory of a similar egg.

STAR OPINION: A misplaced hero FROM THE STANDS By Domini M. Torrevillas Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Finally, the Comelec has decided to declare the 11th spot in the elected position for senator to someone whom I feel should not even be there in the first place. Why is that? Have we forgotten that Trillanes put people’s lives in danger about four years ago when his ill repute was emblazoned in all the dailies and other media outlets?

Oakwood has already changed its name to Ascott in order to distance itself from such a horrible incident in our nation’s history. It is such a shame that some voters have chosen to irresponsibly reward him with a vote for such dishonorable actions. Up to this day, he still has to answer for what he did. He continues to stand trial for such alleged crimes against the country in our judicial system. Again, so disgraceful that selective memory has come into play for many of our people. They have ignored this chilling event, which sent shockwaves around the globe because it occurred in our main financial district and endangered innocent bystanders.

I hope people remember the 1996 blockbuster entitled The Rock. In the movie, Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage were tasked to prevent the explosion of noxious gases in the greater San Francisco area. This incident reached such an escalation because the antagonists were seeking retribution for fallen comrades who were conveniently sidelined to die due to the nature of their “top secret operations”. Although their cause was intrinsically noble, they brought shame upon their uniform, rank, and stature in society by seeking a violent course to make their grievances heard. It might have been slow-going passing through the proper channels, but at least they would not be holding a whole city at gunpoint.

This is exactly what the Oakwood mutineers did, and their spokesperson is now a senator of the republic. I do not think this is the type of leadership we would want our children to emulate. It is pretty much expressing to them, “Hear me out or I’ll be forced to take everyone down with me by pushing a button and blowing up this entire area of innocents.” There are casualties of war, but soldiers are mandated to defend those who cannot fight for themselves. They should be reprimanded for abusing their power by preying on those who have nothing to do whatsoever with the issues they hope to resolve. A gun should not be considered as a negotiating tool and it will always prove to be a false one because fear and mistrust arise, instead of sobriety and calm conversation. 

I’m deeply dismayed by this turn of events. I pray that in some way true justice prevails. Please incarcerate those who are found guilty of harming those they have sworn to protect. The citizens have entrusted them with weapons so that will be used for good. When they turn these weapons against the masses, an example must be made of them. They do not deserve to be recognized as the heroes we hoped them to be.

* * *

Even with the Comelec’s decision to finally count the votes from Maguindanao, the Genuine Opposition will surely take all measures to impede the progress of the counting. Remember that Opposition lawyers Sixto Brilliantes and Leila de Lima have been fighting tooth and nail to exclude these ballots from the official count, with de Lima having the audacity to say that “the disenfranchisement (of 213,000 voters from Maguindanao) is a non-issue.”

In reaction to this, Atty. Edel Baddiri, a leading member of the Young Moro Professionals, pointed out that this move has deep ethnic (and even religious) connotations. He has a good point, since we are all in the same boat. We are all patiently waiting for our votes to be counted, and this must proceed without hindrance. It would be such a shame to disenfranchise the voice of one, so much more when it involves the collective choice of more than 200,000 of our Muslim brothers. Let things progress as they should.

At least Baddiri had the courage to make his opinion heard in defense of his Muslim brethren. He, too, advocates sobriety as he also hopes that the Maguindanao votes will be counted virtuously. He’s in the waiting line as well, praying that no disenfranchisement happens. Again, it would be such a let-down for those who made the effort to make their choice known through the sanctity of the ballot.

Our country just commemorated 109 years of freedom last week. Our ancestors who had to endure colonial rule also had to wait for their opportunity to finally breathe free air. If the heroes of the past were alive today, would they be proud to observe our behavior as we wait for the counting to finish? They bravely fought off invaders from a distant land. Sadly, nowadays we seem to be fighting one another as to whose votes count and whose do not. After 109 years, have we not matured as a nation that democratically includes all, and vigils for what the people really desire?

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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