Trillanes: PH interest not necessarily same as Duterte’s
INQUIRER.net caught up with Philippine Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on October 19 in Manhattan. He had just concluded the much-discussed meeting with United States Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), over which netizens accused the staunch Duterte administration critic of treason. Below are excerpts of the interview, which covered the controversial Rubio meeting along with Trillanes’ insights on Philippine democracy, his role as part of the opposition and the significance of the Filipino American community in Philippine-U.S. relations. Excerpts of the interview:
INQ: Do you believe that the President is laying the groundwork for a dictatorship?
Sen. Trillanes: Yes, I’m almost sure of that. Not only because of ‘yung pag profile sa kanya ano, meron siyang propensity for a dictatorship or tyrannical tendencies. [At] the same time, eto yung ginawa niya sa Davao ano. Tapos aside from that, may inside information tayo na ginagawa na nila ‘yan. So finofloat na rin ‘yan publicly. So I’m almost sure of it na ‘yun ang direksyon natin, a revolutionary government.
[Not only because of his profile, his propensity for a dictatorship or tyrannical tendencies. At the same time, this is his track record in Davao. Aside from that, we have inside information that this is where they’re headed. They are floating the idea publicly. So, I’m almost sure of it that the direction is towards establishing a revolutionary government]
Sen. Rubio has disclosed that the two of you discussed Philippine-US relations, combating corruption and protecting human rights amid the war on drugs. There is some concern that you might have provided biased information, being a staunch critic of the Duterte administration. What was the main message you delivered to the senator and what do you think will be its impact on Philippine-US relations moving forward?
OK, una muna, hindi ako kagaya ng Duterte administration na nagkakalat ng mga kasinungalingan. So ako, sinabi ko lang ‘yung katotohanan at alam niyo etong mga senior government officials ng U.S., hindi mo ‘yan sila maloloko. They already know the facts on the ground much more than the ordinary Filipino. So hindi mo’ yan sila mabobola. Then sa akin dito, sinabi ko lang ang katotohanan at itinulak ko yung interest ng ating bansa and let me just emphasize na ang interest ng ating bansa is different or not necessarily the same as ‘yung interes ni Duterte. So moving forward, we are hoping na mapapalakas natin ang ating strategic alliance with United States.
[First of all, unlike the Duterte administration, I do not peddle lies. I just spoke the truth. And you know what? These senior government officials of the U.S., you cannot fool them. They already know the facts on the ground much more than the ordinary Filipino, so you cannot run circles around them. As far as I am concerned, I just told him the truth and I pushed for the interest of our country, and let me emphasize that the interest of our country is different or not necessarily the same as that of Duterte. So, moving forward, we are hoping to strengthen our strategic alliance with the U.S.]
Sir, did Sen. Rubio ask you any questions? And how long did the meeting last?
The meeting lasted for around 30 minutes and hindi naman siya nagtanong kasi alam niya na ‘yung mga pangyayari, mga sitwasyon sa atin. So nagkaroon lang ng exchange of insights moving forward at kung ano ‘yung mga ginagawa nila on their end. So ganoon basically ang tema nung conversation.
[The meeting lasted for around 30 minutes and he did not ask any questions because he already knows what’s happening, the situation in our country. So, we just had an exchange of insights moving forward and the moves on their end. That was basically the theme of the conversation.]
Did Sen. Rubio share any impression on the President [Duterte]?
I wouldn’t comment on that. Let’s just say na meron siyang mga concerns ‘no at niraise naman niya ‘to sa iba’t ibang forum. So, this won’t be the first time na ilalabas niya ‘yon, so iyon.
[I wouldn’t comment on that. Let’s just say that he has some concerns and he has raised these concerns in various forums. So, this won’t be the first time he’s airing such concerns, and that’s that.]
There’s also speculation that you might be trying to stop President Trump from visiting the Philippines in November. Is this true? And if so, what do you expect to gain from this move?
Hindi po totoo ‘yan, kasi ‘yung mga ganyang mga state visits, ilang buwan na inaayos iyan at hindi ganoon kadaling ipapacancel mo on the mere say-so of a Philippine senator. Hindi ‘yan. I didn’t even attempt. So ‘yung mga nagrereraise niyan ay yung mga praning na lang ano at mga nagiintriga. So hindi ‘yan kasama sa agenda.
[That’s not true because these state visits are planned well in advance and it’s not something that can be easily canceled on the mere say-so of a Philippine senator. It doesn’t work that way, and I didn’t even attempt. So, the people speculating on this are simply being paranoid or sowing intrigues. That wasn’t part of my agenda.]
You are now one of the staunchest critics of the Duterte administration. What do you think is the net effect of your contrary position? And do you believe the country benefits from it and how?
Definitely the country is benefitting from that kase [because] that’s precisely the design of our democracy [you see], there is a system of checks and balances. So, my role as a member of the opposition is precisely to check the abuses of the other branch of government, otherwise sasagasaan na lang tayo neto ano, kung anong gusto niyang gawin [it will just run all over us with whatever they want to do]. So, I believe I’m just fulfilling my mandate from the Filipino people.
You have accused Paolo Duterte of being a member of the Hong Kong triad. Do you think the Filipino people believe you, and are you presenting any evidence anytime soon?
Sa akin, yung ebidensiya na miyembro ng Triad si Paolo Duterte ay nakatatak sa likod ni Paolo Duterte mismo. Kaya ko nga siya dinala doon sa hearing na ‘yon, precisely to present the evidence. Etong si Sen. [Richard] Gordon, hinahanapan ng ebidensiya, sinasabi ko nga nandudun sa likod ni Paolo Duterte. Kaso nakita niyo naman, ayaw niyang ipakita eto. At kahit na sinabi na natin na he can go to a vacant room in the Senate for privacy, pipicturan lang nung sergeant-at-arms tapos ipapakita, ayaw niya. So I believe the people saw how he evaded yung aking line of questioning and for the record, ni hindi pa niya dinedeny to this day na miyembro siya ng Triad.
[As far as I am concerned, the evidence that Paolo Duterte is a member of the Triad is stamped on the back of Paolo Duterte himself. That’s why I brought him to the hearing, precisely to present the evidence. Sen. Gordon is looking for evidence, and I’ve been insisting that it is right there on the back of Paolo Duterte. But then as you know, he refused to show his back. Even when we suggested that he could go to a vacant room in the Senate for privacy, and the sergeant-at-arms could simply take a photo and show this to the public, but he refused. So, I believe the people saw how evaded my line of questioning and for the record, he has not categorically denied his membership in the Triad.]
Could you comment on your altercation with Sen. Gordon and what’s the point?
Yung altercation ko with Sen. Gordon is a, it may be unfortunate but it is a necessary circumstance dahil ako po ay, I am determined to pursue the truth and siya naman, he is determined to protect his political principal, which is Mr. Duterte. So talagang mangyayari yan, but I will not let that be an obstacle dun sa aking misyon. So tuloy lang ako.
[My altercation with Sen. Gordon, while unfortunate, is a necessary circumstance because I am determined to pursue the truth, while he is determined to protect his principal, which is Mr. Duterte. So, it was bound to happen, but I will not let that be an obstacle to my mission. So I will keep on going.]
Have you met with any Philippine Embassy officials in Washington, DC? What’s the community’s reception to the President?
Hindi na ako, hindi ko na inabala ‘yung ating embassy officials dito dahil alam ko naman busy rin sila. And sa akin naman, as to the reception of the Filipino community, ay napakainit, regardless of the political persuasions ng ating mga kababayan dito but syempre, coming from the Philippines, ay lahat tayo ay isa rin lang naman yung minamahal na bansa so they still welcome me. Pero karamihan ay disgusted na rin sa mga pinaggagagawa nito ni Duterte.
[I did not bother our embassy officials anymore because I knew they were busy. As for me, as to the reception of the Filipino community has been very warm, regardless of the political persuasions of our countrymen here. But of course, we are compatriots and there is only one country that we all love, so they still welcome me. But many are becoming disgusted with Duterte’s antics.]
What is your message to the Filipino American community? What would you like us to do in order to alleviate the situation in the Philippines with this administration?
Well… OK, well, unang una, nagpapasalamat ako sa mainit na pagtanggap ng mga kababayan natin dito sa Amerika at nagpapasalamat din ako sa pagpapatuloy nila ng malasakit sa ating mga kababayan na nagpapadala sila ng pera sa mga pamilya nila at malaking tulong yan sa ating ekonomiya. And at the same time, ang boses ng mga Filipino American community ay very significant dahil pinakikinggan sila hindi lang nung mga officials, mga policymakers sa ating bansa, kung hindi pati yung mga U.S. government officials dahil major minority bloc ang Filipino American community dito. So malaking tulong yan na maproteksyonan yung mga kababayan natin na naaapi ngayon sa ating bansa.
[Well, first of all, I am grateful for the warm welcome of our overseas Filipinos here in America and I thank them for continuing to support the Philippines through remittances to their families, which boost our economy tremendously. At the same time, the voice of the Filipino American community is very significant because they hold sway not only over policymakers in the Philippines, but also U.S. government officials due to their being a major minority bloc in the U.S. So they are in a position to protect the disadvantaged among our countrymen.]
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