By Joyce Pangco Panares
Veep blasts Trillanes for disrespect, says nation can do without him Vice President Jejomar Binay on Sunday said the country could do without the likes of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who is running for re-election next year.
At the anniversary of the 365 Club at the Hotel Inter-Continental, Binay, who heads the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, took Trillanes to task for disrespecting Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
After his role as a back-channel negotiator with China was exposed, Trillanes accused Enrile of being a lackey of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo. He also called Del Rosario a traitor. Binay’s spokesman, Joey Salgado, said the vice president was amplifying the sentiments of Enrile and ousted President Joseph Estrada, who are the other two leaders of the UNA.
Enrile vowed to expose Trillanes’ clandestine activities in behalf of China in the run-up to the 2013 mid-term elections. It was Enrile who helped Trillanes, who had led several failed coup attempts
against Arroyo, get out of jail and serve his first term as senator. Estrada called Trillanes a boastful ingrate. Binay said he felt sorry for Trillanes and urged him to reassess his actions.
He said he was saddened by Trillanes’ statements against Del Rosario, who was “correctly guiding” the country’s foreign policy. “Secretary del Rosario is a hardworking government official. We had trouble in Syria and Libya and he was there. He is really a man of action,” Binay said.
Binay said being disrespectful appeared to be part of Trillanes’ personality since he showed the same lack of courtesy when he interrogated the late Armed Forces chief Gen. Angelo Reyes. In a separate radio interview on Sunday, Trillanes urged Enrile to keep quiet and challenged him again to file a case against him if he felt he had committed a crime.
Trillanes also recalled Enrile’s role during the martial law years, when he served as Defense secretary for the strongman Ferdinand Marcos. “Remember, this is the person who faked his ambush, and we are to believe him like a Santo Papa [Pope]?” Trillanes told radio dzBB, referring to a staged attack that Marcos used as a pretext to declare martial law in 1972.
He called Enrile a “manipulator” who maneuvered investigations to suit his interests and his patrons. Trillanes insisted that, as a back-channel negotiator, he did not need to clear any of his actions with Del Rosario, even though the Palace had said he had no blanket authority to make any deals.
“It is not my responsibility to talk to Del Rosario,” Trillanes said.
“Why should I coordinate with him? I am not working under him. Maybe if I was a functionary of the Executive branch, perhaps that can be.” President Benigno Aquino III earlier confirmed that China approached Trillanes and asked him to serve as a backchannel negotiator between Manila and Beijing to diffuse the tensions over the conflicting territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea. Mr. Aquino, however, did not say who spoke to Trillanes from China’s end.
The Palace also remained silent over Trillanes’ claim that it had paid for his trips to China. A Palace spokesman last week said the President had sent Trillanes a text message asking him to stop issuing statements in the wake of his word war with Enrile.
In his radio interview Sunday, however, Trillanes thanked the President for defending him and acknowledging the job he did. He also reiterated his accusation that Enrile was pressuring senators to pass a bill that would split the province of Camarines Sur, a move that he said would benefit Arroyo.
He said Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada called him Monday last week and asked him to withdraw his opposition to the bill so it could be passed in time for the filing of the certificates of candidacies for the next election. “So how can they say that there was no pressure to pass this bill?” he said.
He also refused to vacate his membership in several Senate committees, saying his party, the Nacionalistas, would decide how many of the panels it was entitled to head. “They should bring it to vote in the plenary to remove me. Why would I give up [the committee], I’m entitled to that,” Trillanes said.
Trillanes had earlier admitted seeking to oust Enrile as Senate president, a bid that none of his colleagues supported. The Nacionalistas disowned the bid to oust Enrile, describing it as “the effort of one senator.”