Why Trillanes is a dangerous leader
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2013-01-31

If there’s a senator who’s up for reelection this year that we should be scrutinizing very carefully ­— it has to be Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. His latest instigation — a senate coup against Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE) — just exploded in this plotter’s face last January 21.

Determined to demonstrate his support base and stop the whispers of intrigue attributed to Trillanes, JPE grabbed the initiative and forced the issue. He delivered a valedictory last January 21 and vacated the position of Senate President. As expected, the majority of the senators, including those of the Liberal Party, supported JPE.

In his speech JPE said: “One Senator is so desperate that he has repeatedly and shamelessly invoked and sought Malacañang’s involvement and intervention just to get enough support to oust me. He continues to make a mockery of the Senate as an independent institution.” JPE was referring to Trillanes who has been announcing the “Palace-backed” coup to media.

JPE knows that Trillanes doesn’t have the support of Malacañang. This was confirmed to me by sources that are high up in the Palace totem pole two weeks ago. JPE would have been reckless to vacate his position without first ascertaining if he still has the support of the majority. There was no real drama to be found in JPE’s speech. The outcome was already ascertained. The drama was not in the speech but in the rigmarole to embarrass the loose cannon in the senate.

The wise man would have made a retrograde maneuver after being exposed and shamed by the old and wily Senate President. Trillanes did the opposite. He then revealed to media that JPE would be ousted by February, again invoking the “forthcoming” support of the four Liberal Party senators — senators Frank Drilon, Kiko Pangilinan, TJ Guingona and Ralph Recto. Typical of the troublemaker — Trillanes even put on the spot Drilon and Senator Manny Villar as the possible replacements to JPE.

This pronouncement of another senate coup in February placed both the senate majority and the executive in an awkward position. Why does Trillanes not realize this? It’s unbelievable for him not to know that all these pronouncements of his about getting the support of the Palace have no basis. The executive has so many important matters to transact with the senate majority and will not jeopardize this for the whims of the loose cannon in the senate. Trillanes doesn’t realize that in this equation in the senate, he has been behaving like a bull in a china shop, recklessly jeopardizing the objectives of the President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) administration.

P-Noy almost got his fingers burned when the backchannel role of Trillanes in dealing with China was revealed. Trust me, P-Noy will not give the loose cannon a second chance to burn his hands. P-Noy, as my friend Raissa Robles had noted, is a very calculating power player. Raissa likened P-Noy’s style of attaining his objectives to that of a billiard player who sets up his sequence of shots. A calculating power player like P-Noy would not want to employ loose cannons in his organization.

These actuations of Trillanes are consistent with his three other mega blunders, two of which could have caused serious internal strife in our country. These three mega blunders were the Oakwood Mutiny, the Manila Peninsula siege and the tragic suicide of General Angie Reyes after having been verbally abused and shamed by Trillanes in a senate hearing. Not too long ago, the loose cannon said a mouthful about his role as backchannel to China.

What strikes me about Trillanes as a sign of a dangerous man in power is his track record of employing a strategy that’s the opposite of what a great soldier and general ‑ Douglas MacArthur ‑ would prescribe. According to MacArthur, a good general will not try to win with bravado what he can attain with strategy. The charge of the British Light Brigade in the Crimean War was a blunder owed to reliance on bravado.

Trillanes was all-bravado in Oakwood, in the Manila Peninsula siege and in this latest senate coup attempt. He didn’t have the means to attain his objective but relied on bravado to do the job for him. If he’s our president at this time, he might even attack China. People in the power game who display this bravado syndrome tend to lead their flock to tragic misadventures that cause many deaths and inflict extensive misery. Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler were of this mold, although in the case of Napoleon — he exhibited strategic brilliance in the battlefield, Austerlitz most notably.

George Bernard Shaw wrote that: “The masses will follow anything that moves.” This was shown in the rise to power of Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler. In both cases, there was turmoil and the masses were confused. Emerging like the proverbial white knight on horseback, Napoleon and Hitler grabbed power and ruled as autocrats. Ruin and many deaths marked their downfalls.

Trillanes had demonstrated in Oakwood, the Manila Peninsula siege and the latest senate coup attempt that when he gets fixated to a certain objective, he then loses sight of the cost equation.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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