The ironies in the war between Juan Ponce Enrile and Antonio Trillanes are so rich and plentiful I don’t know where to begin to appreciate them. They are, in no particular order of importance, these:
One, that Trillanes should accuse Enrile of being the tuta of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the eve of the 40th anniversary of martial law. The context of it of course is the division of Camarines Sur. Enrile says he isn’t even aware that Arroyo is interested in CamSur, which is about as true as saying he’s not aware his son is running for senator.
But surely if you want to accuse Enrile of being tuta at this time there’s someone to point to more readily as his master? Before Enrile reinvented himself as the country’s savior from martial law, he was an architect of martial law. In fact, he triggered it by faking an ambush on himself in Wack Wack, which was what Ferdinand Marcos specifically cited to declare it. He would admit his sin after Edsa, but recant it after he had a falling out with Cory. And he calls Trillanes a liar.
Two, that Trillanes should be P-Noy’s backdoor diplomat to China. P-Noy explains that the initiative came from Trillanes himself—Trillanes was approached by Chinese officials while he was in China. But you still have to wonder why P-Noy thought it a good idea.
At the very least Trillanes’ ability to read a situation well you see in the Oakwood mutiny. At the time he mounted it, Arroyo was a legitimate president, made so by an act of People Power. At the time he mounted it, elections were round the corner, which was the perfectly legitimate way to get rid of her. At the time he mounted it, the public couldn’t care less about his cause he hadn’t bothered to inform them of it. It was as though Trillanes believed that by the sheer force of his personality, he would rally the nation around him spontaneously. In fact, all it showed was someone who was impulsive and reckless, if not indeed egotistical and deluded.
At the very most, why Trillanes and not any one of the China experts, or those who have actually lived in China, worked in China, and spent a lifetime studying China? Such as Chito Sta.
Romana, Jimmy Florcruz, and Ericson Baculinao? They not only know China very well, they are friends with some members of the Chinese politburo. And their patriotism is beyond question. If P-Noy cannot turn them into backdoor negotiators, two of them being journalists working for international news agencies, he can at least rely on their expertise. Whom does Trillanes know that can affect Chinese policy?
Three, that Trillanes should announce he is the backdoor diplomat to China. The point of doing things backdoor is secrecy. Trillanes’ lips are about as sealed as Maurice Arcache’s. It was not Enrile who first revealed Trillanes’ dealings with China, it was Trillanes himself in response to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario’s apparent provocations. And the point of diplomacy is to keep a united front. You have differences with the official stand, thresh it out first. But you do not carry out an official function with a different agenda. You speak with one voice.
You see the importance of that in the way Mitt Romney tried to politicize the anti-American riots in Libya and elsewhere, saying Barack Obama was supporting the rioters more than America. The humongous backlash against him from friend and foe alike has probably cost him the elections. The point is simple: Foreign policy may not be held hostage to partisan politics. You’ve got differences in how to face the world, resolve it internally. But at the end of the day, you take one stand, you speak with one voice.
Four, Enrile says the danger of Trillanes getting reelected is that “China might have a senator in this chamber.” Well, if Trillanes is a Chinese agent, he hasn’t learned very much from Mao who proposed that creating too many enemies at the same time is suicidal, you should take them one at a time. Trillanes has just managed to piss off Enrile, Del Rosario and Manny Pangilinan. The last he accused of being hostile to China for his own interests and who in turn has called him a barefaced liar. Which is also what Enrile and Erap call him. He has also just managed to piss off Malacañang. Little wonder he keeps losing his wars.
But what’s this, we should worry about having a Chinese agent—by Enrile’s definition—in the Senate but not worry about having American agents in it? Who are most of the senators? Indeed, at the very heart of Foreign Affairs? Who are Del Rosario and company?
In the end, what’s so wrong about Trillanes’ conduct is that he himself subverts his own disagreements with Del Rosario’s confrontational approach to China. Or his antics make people forget about them. You don’t have to be a Chinese sympathizer, or agent, to see that Del Rosario has been dangerously saber-rattling with China—a “war freak” as Trillanes calls him—while dragging the United States into the fray on the insane assumption it will take our side in any open confrontation with China. “Hu’s your daddy?” Barbara Bachman asks Americans, in reference to China owning the biggest amount of US dollars outside the United States. Alas, Trillanes cannot now be the best advancer of these criticisms.
Finally, China must be laughing its head off. I used to say it doesn’t need to attack us, all it has to do is get its more than 1 billion citizens to piss into the China Sea at the same time and we will be engulfed by a tsunami. As it turns out, even that is unnecessary. All it has to do is leave us to ourselves. It can always expect an Enrile and Trillanes to get into a pissing contest and get all of us very wet and desperately needing a bath. Why should anyone want to declare war on us?
We do a good job of it by ourselves to ourselves.
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