Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 9 September 2017


Given the background between Sen. Antonio Trillanes and the Dutertes (father, son and xxx), with the heated exchange of accusations between them—the most repeated being “liar”—one would think that the senator’s invitations to Son and Son-in-law represented an ideal opportunity for the latter to show up the former for what they think he is: a loud-mouthed liar who has been hounding not only them but also their father/father-in-law with baseless accusations for over a year.

The first invitation was for Paolo Duterte to have a tattoo on his back photographed. Trillanes alleged that the tattoo is a Triad tattoo. Reader, a triad is a transnational organized crime syndicate based in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and all countries, including the Philippines, that have a significant Chinese population. Their criminal activities are varied, including drug trafficking, money laundering and police corruption.

The tattoo is supposed to mark the person as a member of the triad and has an encoded number that identifies his rank in the organization (489, for example, identifies the “Dragon Master,” and 49 is an ordinary member).

A serious charge, indeed. And all Paolo had to do to stop Trillanes in his tracks was to have the tattoo photographed, and subject it to examination. If it is not a Triad tattoo, the Filipino people would know that Trillanes was talking drivel. His credibility would be in tatters, and a burr would be removed from the Duterte family. Beautiful comeuppance, yes?With respect to the bank accounts that Trillanes implied belonged to Paolo Duterte and Manases Carpio, with deposits of hundreds of millions of pesos, the two denied owning the accounts. Trillanes then invited them to issue a waiver to allow the Senate to look into those accounts.

Reader, I am given to understand that if the accounts were not theirs, the banks (Metrobank, BPI, BDO, etc.) would simply say so. And Trillanes would have been shown up as a blowhard prone to baseless accusations. Another beautiful comeuppance.

Does Paolo Duterte have a Triad tattoo? Do these bank accounts exist? These are yes-or-no questions. No ambiguities. If the answer is “yes,” the Dutertes are crooks. If it is “no,” Trillanes is a liar and a buffoon, and the Filipino people will surely want him out of the Senate.

But both Paolo and Manases refused the invitations. And missed the golden opportunity to remove Trillanes from the equation by exposing him to ridicule.

Not only that. Let’s look at how the Senate behaved. Those who watched the proceedings would not have failed to note that Paolo was arrogant to the point of being in contempt of the Senate, yet was allowed to get away with it. His “No way” answer to the question of whether he would sign a waiver speaks for itself. His claim to the “right to privacy” was not corrected by our good senators. They just suggested that what he meant was the right against self-incrimination, which he accepted. Jeez.

What I mean, Reader, is: If you look at it objectively, Paolo Duterte is a vice mayor—not exactly high on the totem pole of public officials. What he had going for him, which should not have mattered at all, is that he is the son of the President. And he took full advantage of it. I could almost see the senators tiptoeing. Not a nice picture.

A senator even said something to the effect that the time of these people (i.e., Duterte and Carpio), who had come from so far away, should not be wasted. Like it was out of the goodness of their hearts that they came.

Ridiculous. Matobato and Lascañas came from exactly that far away. But they were treated like the scum of the earth. And subjected to prolonged questioning, with everybody trying to prove that they were liars or taking liberties with the truth. Mark Taguba was treated like dirt, too.

Trillanes was the only one who had the gumption to treat Duterte and Carpio as well, or as badly, as the other resource persons. And Bam Aquino, I think, stood out in behaving like a senator of the Republic should—courteous, studied, not grandstanding. One wishes there were more like him.