No Reputation to Protect

What if Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV declares straight to my face:

You have no reputation to protect.

What else should I say?

I am praying that it would not happen to me. And now I am still hoping that the Filipino nation had not heard such arrogant line. In silence, I have entertained another hope – that Sonny Trillanes hadn’t become (elected) as senator of this country. (My apologies to the your Senator and his family.)

But what if Sen. Trillanes was our god – all knowing, all powerful?

What the world would become if Trillanes, our god, tell us that we don’t have “reputation to protect”?

Let us give thanks to our Lord that some people hadn’t wanted to teach. Because if the former military man, Sen. Trillanes is teaching our children and in one of his inquiry tell a young boy that he has no honor and reputation?

The Philippine Senators, in their celebrated investigations, had long been shaking us – emotionally and mentally.

I asked one friend who have witnessed a senate investigation of the past congress. “It feels like you’re grilled”, my friend told.

What had our Senators accomplished so far from their physically, emotionally, and mentally draining investigations and inquiry?

I have nothing against on Senate investigations. It may be necessary – I am not sure enough. But I am hoping the our Senators accord respect to all people they have invited.

When Sen. Trillanes thrown his hard hitting line: You have no reputation to protect. He had not only traumatize us but had also caused pain (and destruction) to intricate social web (of family and friends).

Who has the reputation?

Can our Senators, specifically Sen. Antonio Trillanes, generously share who still got reputation?

Everyone deserves respect because everyone has honor and dignity. Who are we to tell someone that his “reputation” already gone?

What’s next?

I learn (by heart) the great lessons on the stories from the Senate. The lessons from Senate investigations – from the melodramatic acts to antagonistic verbal attacks – to the famous line of Sen. Trillanes, you have no reputation to protect can be enough.

Should we hurt each other more?

Lessons from the story “Piece of String”

I remember a story “The Piece of String”. It was a story about a peasant who was accused of stealing. He was too disturbed that he wanted to get everyone believe that he really hadn’t stolen the pocketbook but has picked a piece of string instead.

But who will believe a peasant like him? For a poor man like Maitre Hauchecome (of the story) reputation and honor was more important. Perhaps, more important than sparkling stones and metals.

Hauchecome went out of his way to explain to people that he was innocent and that he only picked a piece of string. But he got mockery, insults!

You can read (re-read if you have heard this in your literature class) this classic from Guy de Maupassant by searching, The Piece of String.

Interesting enough! The last part of the story says,

Toward the end of December he took to his bed.

He died in the first days of January, and in the delirium of his death struggles he kept claiming his innocence, reiterating:

“A piece of string, a piece of string–look–here it is, M’sieu the Mayor.”

Perhaps the story could have different plot and characters if Guy de Maupassant lived with us today. What do you think?

Manila Peninsula hotel takeover was just contempt, not rebellion – Judge

Do you remember how Antonio Trillanes IV, Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim walked out of court and marched towards Peninsula Manila Hotel?

Antonio Trillanes IV, Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim walked out of court and marched towards Peninsula Manila Hotel. They were joined by Teofisto Guingona.

Trillanes, Lim, and Guingona (unknown source)

They were joined by some military personnel and civilians carrying M-16 or M-14 rifles. Some of them carried and wore Magdalo flags and pins.

Calling the gathering as “New Edsa”, they asked citizens to joined them. Then a website went live, announcing Lim and Senator Antonio Trillanes as the rebel leaders and calling on the Filipino people to unite against Arroyo. See this report by news agency, AFP: Philippine rebel troops demand Arroyo step down.

It was not a rebellion, Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Elmo Alameda ruled. I was just a direct contempt.

Thus, detained Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, Antonio Trillanes IV, and 16 other accused are allowed to post bail of P200,000 each, reads the Manila Standard report.

As quoted by the same Manila Standard report, the court said:

The walkout from the courtroom of Judge [Oscar] Pimentel in the middle of a hearing by the accused can only be considered a contumacious conduct constitutive of direct contempt and not rebellion […]

The act of marching alone is not rebellion and is not different from the numerous rallies along Makati streets, which is not an unusual occurrence.

Just like one of numerous rallies along Makati streets?

Was it really like just another rally in Makati? But some of those who joined were armed M-16 or M-14 rifles. The usual rally in Makati or in any part of this country did not look like what happened in the march going to Manila Pen.

I wonder if I can consider it as not an unusual occurrence. Perhaps, the way I saw and understood it was just different. For sure, the differences of views is not an unusual occurrence.

Manila Pen 'incident' (unknown source)

I tried to review several reports on the incident. I looked back what really happened. But it seems I can’t be convinced that the Manila Peninsula takeover wasn’t rebellion (with due respect to the court). It was rebellion.

In the AFP report (see link above), Army Brigadier-General Danilo Lim was quoted saying:

We call on the military to withdraw support for Mrs Arroyo in order to end her unconstitutional and illegal occupation of the presidency.

If the line came from tambay in Makati, it might be senseless, meaningless. But the words come from an Army Brigadier-General who has not only been accused of rebellion (in another adventurous incident) but also has armed men on his side.

So what is rebellion?

Perhaps, it’s the way you see it. In a simple sense, rebellion is a refusal of obedience or order. Was there refusal of obedience or order in Manila Pen takeover? Yes, there was. It was very clear.

The aftermath

How much have we lost after Antonio Trillanes IV and Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim staged their overly dramatic adventure?

Where is the justice?

I don’t know where justice is. The concluding line of Manila Standard editorial reads: And we wonder why people have lost faith in our system of justice.

I hope we continue to have faith to system of justice. I am just hoping.

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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