Antonio Trillanes IV (see photo) is now officially a senator and that is enough to spark another round of speculations on the meaning of his win.
Trillanes and leaders of the Oakwood mutiny in 2003 would probably like to see this as a validation of the people’s support for that failed revolt.
But the mutiny was both a cause and an act, with complaints against corruption in the military used to rationalize the attempt to topple the Arroyo government by force.
Obviously the Oakwood “revolt” lacked popular support, thus its crash before it could soar, yet the issues the mutineers raised were widely considered as legitimate ones.
In this context, one can interpret the Trillanes vote as more of a message for him to pursue legally the causes he espoused, or to advance these causes in the Senate.
Some people meanwhile prefer a less complicated explanation: Trillanes got the mandate not for his adventurist bent but for his principled stance.
Among the senatorial candidates, Trillanes is one of the few not yet muddied by traditional politics—a fresher but less charismatic version of the Gringo Honasan of old.
Most enlightened voters thus went for him.
But analysts often go overboard and seek complex explanations to simple events.
Trillanes, for example, may just have been fortunate to have ridden the crest of the wave that allowed the Genuine Opposition to thrash the administration’s Team Unity.
One good question: Would the result have been the same had, say, JV Ejercito ran prompting Genuine Opposition leaders to ease Trillanes out of their lineup?
Note that even if he was in the opposition slate, Trillanes barely won.
Analyzing Trillanes’ win, though, is less important than considering what he will do, or whether he can be up to the expectations of those who voted for him.
Trillanes is not the first mutineer to have become senator, considering Honasan, and the mediocre record of the latter may turn people’s hope in the former to pessimism.
Still, it would be unfair to judge him even before he starts working.
Allowing Trillanes to fully function as a senator is therefore a good move although this should not be done at the expense of the country’s legal processes.
–I wrote this as an editorial for the June 16, 2007 issue of Sun.Star Cebu