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Apologize to Trillanes’ mother, Mr. President

President Duterte’s notorious vindictiveness (in his first State of the Nation Address, he categorically stated that he was not vindictive) may have reached a new low with his accusation that the mother of Sen. Sonny Trillanes was involved in the Kevlar scandal some years ago.

Can his vindictiveness sink any lower than it already has? Well, yes. Because in his desire to “destroy” the former senator—that is the President’s word, describing the fate he wants for Trillanes—(a) he has brought in the senator’s mother, Estelita Fuentes Trillanes, who, by the way, is in her 90s and has Alzheimer’s so she can no longer defend herself; and (b) he seems to have made up the story out of whole cloth.

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Remember his previous attacks on Trillanes? There was the one accusing Trillanes of having offshore bank accounts—complete with bank account numbers and a matrix (another of Mr. Duterte’s favorite words) showing even the names of the codepositors of Trillanes (all Chinese names).

The senator went off to Singapore and asked to see the deposits; he was told that no such deposit number existed. At which point, Mr. Duterte admitted that he had given fake numbers, and that he had the real bank account numbers. Reader, don’t ask me what the logic was behind that reasoning. There is none. But you can refresh your memories by Googling.

And there is the still ongoing case which he caused to be resurrected against Trillanes, claiming that the latter was not qualified for the amnesty he received from PNoy. The evidence that could easily have exculpated Trillanes was found to be missing from the military files. Duh.

The thing is that Trillanes has to hire lawyers for his defense. Mr. Duterte uses the government to get back at his “enemies.”

But those attacks were aimed at Trillanes directly. This one is aimed at Trillanes’ mother, just to get back at Trillanes. That’s why I ask: How low can one go?

How do we know that the story implicating Trillanes’ mother is made out of whole cloth? Because Vera Files fact-checked it, including examining the entire records of the Kevlar case (it was tried in the Sandiganbayan), and found it to be totally baseless. Trillanes’ mother was not even mentioned in any of the records in the case. The link: https://www.verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-duterte-falsely-links-trillanes-mother.

Is Vera Files a fake-news organization? No, it comes with all the necessary qualifications. It is affiliated with the International Fact-Checking Network. And last year, it was tapped (with Rappler) by Facebook to be part of its third-party fact-checking program in the Philippines.

[Tangent: The founders of Vera Files, the founders of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the founders of Rappler happen to be the best journalists we have in the Philippines. Most of them are internationally recognized: Malou Mangahas, Maria Ressa, Ellen Tordesillas, to name a few. Do you recognize these names, Reader? They seem to be on Mr. Duterte’s to-harrass list. Their only “shortcoming”? Their reports are all fact-based. What’s wrong with telling the truth?]

Ellen Tordesillas, according to Mr. Duterte, is part of a drug matrix. And she is a founder of Vera Files. If we use Mr. Duterte’s logic, then Vera Files has to be doubted.

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Well, this is a little iffy, but how about: Trillanes, when he was in graduate school at NCPA-UP, wrote a couple of papers on corruption in the Navy. The Kevlar case was mentioned as examples. Why would he write about it, if his mom were involved?

Or: Trillanes’ coup attempt against Gloria Arroyo. Why didn’t she use the information on Trillanes’ mom—if there was any—to get back at Trillanes?

Message to the President: Mr. President, I pray for you—every day, if truth be told—but I will also work as hard as I can to get you to do the right thing. And the right thing this time is to apologize. If you cannot take apologizing to Trillanes (who has accused you of having millions of undeclared deposits in your bank accounts, a charge you have evaded up to now), then apologize to his mother.

All this bluster does not help—your reputation, your credibility, our country. Who wants to have a President who is caught in a barefaced lie? Man up, Mr. President.

[email protected]

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TAGS: Antonio Trillanes IV, opinion, Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte
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