The Adventures of Antonio Trillanes

The Philippine political culture is vulnerable to adventurism. Many politician resort to “adventurist moves” which make and unmake them. Some political adventurists rise to power, some perish and forgotten. Such political culture of the country is also vulnerable to military adventurism. “History is replete with instances where military adventurism is started by idealistic junior officers”, Emil Jurado of Manila Standard observes. [1]

Political exploitation for personal and institutional advantages, disorientation of national issues and concern, selective nationalism and ignorance, and misplaced trust makes our political culture especially vulnerable.

The Trillanes Adventures add the many adventures in Philippine political and military history.

Antonio Trillanes IV commenced his adventures as a cadet to Philippine Military Academy (1990 where he graduated Cum Laude in 1995. After graduating from PMA, he served the Philippine Navy. His biography in Philippine Senate website reads: [2]

He went through all shipboard assignments starting from Mess & Supply Officer; Deck & Gunnery Officer; Engineering & Damage Control Officer; Executive Officer; and, ultimately as Acting Commanding Officer of a patrol gunboat.

It adds that:

During his five-year sea duty experience, his unit apprehended dozens of smugglers, illegal loggers, poachers, human smugglers and illegal fishermen in numerous maritime law enforcement operations conducted in the waters off Batanes, Ilocos, Cagayan, Isabela, Zambales, Scarborough, Quezon, Bicol, Palawan, Mindoro, Romblon, Iloilo, Cebu, Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Davao and Maguindanao. […] For his meritorious service to his country, [Trillanes] has been awarded a total of 23 assorted merit medals, campaign ribbons and badges.

He triumph in the first chapter of his adventure!

In 2003, Trillanes ventured into radical adventure. He was one of the junior military officers who lead a group of 321 armed soldiers and took over the Oakwood Premier Ayala Center serviced apartment tower in Makati City [3] – thus the action is dubbed as Oakwood Mutiny.

The mutiny failed. It lasted only 18 hours. The soldiers failed to rally support from the public or the armed forces. All soldiers involved surrendered peacefully and were charged in a general court martial.

That time Trillanes failed.

A new adventure was rolled out by Trillanes in 2007. He “successfully launched a nationwide campaign from his prison cell as he ran and won a seat in the Philippine Senate on a shoestring budget. More than 11 million people voted him. [4] He is the first Philippine Senator to be elected while in jail.

Many were surprised with his success in the Philippine midterm election. Shortly after he assumed his office, he continue to blow the government with accusations of corruption and wrongdoings, bragging that he has evidences and witnesses. But he failed to show them off. That tint the credibility of the Senator.

He won. He triumph in his third adventure.

Shortly after his victory in the midterm elections, he drastically made another radical action. Yesterday, November 29, 2007, he walked out of his own trial (along with Brigadier General Danilo Lim, and 25 other Magdalo officers) and went to Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City, calling for President Arroyo’s ouster. It was his fourth adventure which lasted only for six hours.

Trillanes expected to win in his fourth adventure but like his radical move in Oakwood, he failed to win support from Filipino people. The reason is simple. He betrayed the trust of the people with his personal motives.

Will Trillanes succeed in his next adventure?

[1] Are military junior officers up to something? -Emil Jurado (Manila Standard: January 20, 2006)
[2] [4] Biography of Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV
[3] Oakwood Mutiny

JGG|Mandaue City
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