Antonio Trillanes IV for President

Senator TrillanesWe have been looking at some of the possible candidates for president for 2016, figuring that Jejomar Binay is one, but everyone knows him. Or at least has strong ideas about him. What other characters may be deemed worthy?

So far we have looked at:

Perhaps it is time to give Senator “Sonny” Trillanes a looksee, given that his name keeps popping up in the news. Two blurbs caught my eye this past week:

  • The Senator announced sponsorship of a bill aimed at raising government salaries to help reduce corruption. [PhilStar article]
  • He also opined that presidential candidates who were not on a Napoles list (himself, for instance?) would have a better chance than those who were on a list (Senator Cayetano, for instance). [Rappler article]

The Senator is Unusual

If character is king in deciding elections, Senator Trillanes is a royal candidate:

  • Former Navy Lieutenant Senior Grade
  • Led the Oakwood Mutiny of 300 military people in 2003 in protest of corruption in President Arroyo’s government; he served 7 1/2 years in jail for that little shenanigan.
  • He ran a senate campaign from jail in 2007. Successfully.
  • In 2010, he was granted amnesty by President Aquino and was freed by the court.
  • He was re-elected to the senate in 2013.
  • A few days ago, he stated he was ready for higher office.

No one would dare suggest this candidate does not prize the straight path, or does not have a passion for progress.

What’s His Background?


  • His popular name is “Sonny”
  • Born August 1971 (42 years old)
  • Married with two living children (one deceased)
  • Catholic
  • Lives in Caloocan City

The good Senator is academically smart:

  • Three years in engineering at De La Salle University in Manila before being accepted to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
  • Graduated cum laude from PMA in 1995 with a degree in Naval System Engineering. Received several awards of distinction.
  • Earned a Masters Degree in Public Policy and Program Management from the University of the Philippines. More academic awards.

He has served his nation with distinction:


  • Five years of sea duty with a wide range of policing and military activities.
  • A variety of other military/police activities and awards.
  • Stridently opposed corruption under Gloria Arroyo and served his prison time.
  • Ran as an independent in 2007 and a member of Team PNoy in 2013.
  • Very active senator, filing over 700 bills during his time in office, some 30 of which have become law.

The negatives:

  • He is not particularly charismatic, appearing tense in front of cameras and microphones.
  • He is bitterly confrontational with a number of people, Senator Enrile among them.
  • His attempted back channel negotiation with Chinese officials about occupancy of Scarborough Shoals blew up (publicized by Senator Enrile) and suggested antagonism between Foreign Affairs Secretary Del Rosario and Senator Trillanes. [Rappler article]

The mutiny that was not quite a coup

Mr. Trillanes and other military officers marched out of their trial and holed up in a hotel in Makati, demanding the ouster of Gloria Arroyo as president. The hotel was surrounded by obedient military troops and, after a six-hour standoff, the mutineers surrendered to prevent loss of civilian lives. Trillanes was placed in a maximum security jail at Camp Crame. The rebellion hatched a flurry of anti-Arroyo protests and seven years of intense, widespread legal and political maneuverings between the Trillanes and Arroyo camps.

Stand on Issues

During his 2012 senatorial run, he took the following stand on issues: against divorce, for FOI, against RH law, for sin taxes, and for the Bangsamoro agreement. He ardently objected to the idea of sex education in the schools. That was the rationale behind his eventual “no” vote on RH.

He is for repeal of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012  and against reinstatement of the death penalty, same-sex marriage and implementation of a total gun ban.

Putting it All Together

Senator Trillanes is a maverick, an independent in the truest sense. He appears to have values 180 degrees opposite Senator Enrile, but a similar personality. Neither will back down. His values are traditionally Catholic and, indeed, many Catholic priests backed the mutiny he led.

There is no question as to his loyalty to the Philippines and opposition to corruption. His family’s net worth is not much more than 2 million pesos. He has not enriched himself on the people’s taxes. That he spent 7 1.2 years in jail because he objected to President Arroyo’s ways is a strong statement of principle.

Did he call Secretary Del Rosario “treasonous” as reported by Senator Enrile and attributable to Ambassador Brady’s report? If so, can he control his passions? Can he remain objective and calm under pressure? Can he accept disagreement to his views? His run-ins with Enrile present both as headstrong and bitter.

Does his leadership of a failed coup suggest a headstrong autocrat rather than someone who believes in democratic process?

He is tolerant enough to want to repeal the conflicted Cybercrime Prevention Bill, with its criminalized libel section, yet he was unable to compromise on RH by “giving in” on sex education to assure health assistance to the women of the Philippines.

In a nutshell:

  • Catholic, firm-minded (hard-headed), outspoken, intense, passionate about the values he holds.
  • Intelligent. Of high principle. Potentially intolerant.

How He Can Get Elected

Senator Trillanes needs to project (perhaps develop) a softer diplomatic stance. He needs to prove that he can listen, can negotiate, can give as well as receive.

He has to convince skeptics that he has a broader vision and mandate than a Catholic mandate, and that he is able to listen as well as speak his mind.

He has to prove that he is a mature, calm, reasoning person and not just another hard-headed autocrat with good values who represents himself but not the whole of the Philippines. Being intensely stubborn about one’s personal views is self-serving, a form of intellectual corruption to believe so strongly that one’s own way is the only way.

Somewhere between passionate and pushover is pragmatism. The nation needs pragmatism to move forward with purpose, and to move away from the intense personal battles – and favor-bound allegiances – of the past.

Would you consider Senator Trillanes a good presidential candidate? Why or why not?

What does he need to do to beat Jejomar Binay?


68 Responses to “Antonio Trillanes IV for President”
  1. jcc says:

    No for Trillanes. I will go for De Lima/Guingona; De Lima/Grace Poe tandem, or even Santiago/De Lima; or vice versa, Guingona/De Lima; Grace Poe/De Lima.

    • chit navarro says:

      Why De Lima?… just intrigued.
      Grace Poe / de Lima makes more sense….

    • Joe America says:

      Interesting. You clearly like the no-nonsense De Lima, whom I have always respected since her stint as Human Rights Commissioner (swimming upriver) under Arroyo. I’m not sure she has the diplomatic tact that is needed for President but there is no question as to her good values. I have not liked Senator Guingona’s autocratic, somewhat showy handling of the Blue Ribbon Panel, so I’ve gone a bit cold on him. If Senator Santiago can’t deal with the pressure of the International Court, for medical reasons, I don’t see her as President, either. I like the Poe/De Lima combination a lot. Poe has the popular appeal that could offset Binay’s strength in that area, and she is a bright, diplomatic, well-principled person.

      • chit navarro says:

        you are so very sold to Poe as the person of the season.. I am too… but I have this reservation:

        do you think she will have the guts to run against the VP considering that the VP was his father’s (Ronnie Poe) campaign manager then? I’m sure she was here during the campaign season and she may have worked with the VP. But she also has a great mentor in Sen. Serge Osmena. What do you think?

        • Joe America says:

          She should stop worrying about these incidental things and start thinking about the Philippines and the well-being of the kids here, and how she would be able to influence their well-being as President. That’s much more important than her father’s relationship with VP Binay.

          I will be writing about that on Monday, so please check that blog out.

        • parengtony says:

          Senadora Grace owes Binay nothing. It is Binay who owes FPJ, even Erap. and Senadora Grace
          big time.

      • jcc says:

        DE LIMA/DUTERTE or vice versa. One is dying to process the criminals in the courts of law, the other outside it. 🙂

      • macspeed says:

        Trillanes of the past is not the same as Trillanes today, the mere fact up to this time is sincere management of his life and sincere management as a senator of the Philippine. Any man who can manage his life, his work and his abs is very much qualified to manage the whole Philippine. The best tandem who are not alibaba or robbers of the peoples money for President either
        Trillanes or Grace Poe…

        • Joe America says:

          “. . . and his abs . . .” ahahahaha, I had to read that twice to make sure I read what I read. I’ll have to add “abs” to all my candidate rating schemes.

    • Allyson Yan says:

      Yes to Trillanes. Man of integrity. Fighter against corruption. Rare breed.

    • parengtony says:

      From where I sit, Santiago’s big question mark is intellectual honesty. And how does she account for her lifestyle. Husband and wife are and have always been government employees.

  2. chit navarro says:

    Sonny Trillanes – not charismatic enough. But then,
    Pnoy was a reluctant candidate and was not also that charistmatic.

    He belongs to the ruling party who has in mind Sec. Mar Roxas as its candidate.
    If Sec. Roxas pushes through as the candidate, under which party will he run for Presidency?

    Logistics – logistics – logistics. It would take a candidate with a greater war chest than VP BInay to win the coming election.

    What about a 2nd term for Pres. Aquino? What would it take to do this?

    • Joe America says:

      Interesting point on wealth. Senator Trillanes is clearly not “moneyed” and would require backing from those who are. I wonder if he can get that support. He may end up like Gordon’s Senate run, no money, no votes, and therefore is not a practical alternative to Binay. The PNoy Team of several parties, useful for the Senate elections, may break apart for the presidential election. I believe Trillanes is actually from Manny Villar’s party, which creates a bit of problem for him if Villar runs again.

      Three ways for President Aquino to remain on the scene: (1) Revision of the Constitution, which is not going to happen, (2) Revolution, which is not going to happen, or (3) Run as VP, which is . . . . um . . . unlikely.

    • jcc says:

      If there is an alternative against BINAY and the people are convinced of his/her winnability, a war chest will fill-up surely as the morning sunshine.

    • S-Tambay says:

      Pnoy has many “tuta” that will replaced him ang get away with corruption,namely Binay, Mar Roxas, Trillanes, Grace Poe and the entire Nationalista and Liberal party except Gordon

  3. JM says:

    A. His attempted back channel negotiation with Chinese officials about occupancy of Scarborough Shoals blew up (publicized by Senator Enrile) and suggested antagonism between Foreign Affairs Secretary Del Rosario and Senator Trillanes.

    B. There is no question as to his loyalty to the Philippines

    Aren’t those two conflicting? At first I thought that he would fight for what he believed in with the Oakwood Mutiny but when China came around he folded. He shouldn’t even be in the Senate (like most senators).

    • Joe America says:

      I think he was engaged in the back channel work with the knowledge of the President. If not, then, yes, he was way out of line. My point was not the back channel work itself, which is a good idea if authorized, but with the needless internal confrontation with Secretary Del Rosario. If he has a critical opinion, he should take it up with the Secretary, not voice it to others. I think maybe his loyalty to the Philippines – his way – has no room for disagreement by others. That is what concerns me.

      I appreciate your view. Thanks.

      • Hi there Sir Joe. I have been a quiet reader of your posts and this time, i just wanted to reach you privately. Can i get your email address where I can send you the documents i have gotten regarding this issue? Quite confidential and i wanna share and eleborate these po sana straight to you. Info might be of help about reports on backchannel talks and white paper on the Scarborough controversy. Thanks much and more power to you!

  4. J says:

    TRIVIA: In 1998, a Philippine Navy patrol boat rammed a Chinese “fishing” boat caught poaching on Philippine EEZ. The boat sank, and China went berserk. Good thing then DFA secretary Domingo Siazon was friends with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister (both speak fluent Japanese, as they studied together in Tokyo) and he was able to pacify our Chinese friends. But Beijing demanded compensation, which President Estrada refused. The diplomatic row ended when Chinese-Filipino business associations offered to provide the compensation.

    The captain of the Philippine Navy ship that rammed the Chinese boat was Antonio Trillanes IV.

    • Joe America says:

      Like, “wow”. After the Del Rosario incident, I had labeled Senator Trillanes a “loose cannon”. This is better than fiction. But you didn’t answer the question as to what he has to do to get elected! ahahahaha

      Your second article makes it evident that time has stood still since 1998.

    • jcc says:

      Where is that report that says it was Trillanes who captained the PN ship that rammed the Chinese fishermen? Where is also that report that says FIL-Chinese business association offered to pay the fishermen?

      • J says:

        It’s not in the BBC report. I posted them only as reference. Secretary Siazon revealed that it was Trillanes who captained the ship and that the Chinese-Filipino business association offered compensation in a book called Frontlines of Philippine Foreign Policy.

        • macspeed says:

          ha ha ha ha that only proved Trillanes was a warrior and now a manager ha ha ha ha, he will have adviser once elected on how to deal with problems against territorial issues, urban development and other progressive aspect of the country…


    • Joe America says:

      Careful, Ronaldson, I’m starting to like your approach to politics . . . but I’ll have nothing to write about! 🙂


    • S-Tambay says:

      Are U sure all INC members follows INC dictation. and how do we know that

  6. Joe America says:

    Although I appreciate the new visitors to the blog, courtesy of the Trillanes discussion, I would like to explain that this blog is a discussion forum, not a chat room, polling station, or place to throw off one-liners or mysterious comments with no elaboration. Please expand on the SUBSTANCE of your view so we can learn from that. A check mark for or against anyone enlightens no one.


    • Joe America says:

      To this point, I have deleted numerous comments that are from the same source computer but using different names. This is not a place to play games. If you have a comment of substance to make, please do so, but kindly stop throwing spam on my earnest attempt to have a dialogue.

      As a point of substance, I would note that all the deletions voiced a pro-Trillanes remark, for whatever that tells you about the Senator and his supporters.

  7. jcc says:

    Trillanes as a member of the Magdalo was reviving the Magdalo party or court of Aguinaldo that sentenced Bonifacio to death. Traitors have uncanny similarities.

    • Joe America says:

      I’m deducing that if we did a list of every conceivable candidate for 2016, Trillanes would be at the bottom of your list and De Lima at the top. Where’s Binay?

      • jcc says:

        BINAY, from my POV should not run for President. He will bury Marcos a hero and will reengage ERAP as jueteng czar.

        • jcc says:

          Erap was a protégé of Marcos and Binay was a protégé of Erap. You see the character of the person from the friends he keeps.

          • Joe America says:

            I have vividly seared into my brain a photograph of a prayer session in Cebu with Binay, Enrile, the Senior Estrada and embattled Governor Garcia holding hands while praying for . . . what? More pork? The demise of the straight path? No criminal investigations anywhere at any time? I dunno . . .

            Ahahaha, can you imagine a Binay/Duterte administration? We should encourage Duterte to run, either to support a clean president or plague a corrupt one. You know, cover our bases. Insurance, as it were.

            • macspeed says:

              if ever Duterte will run for President, my family will go for him and Trillanes as VP. But for De Lima, I like her to continue what she is doing, she is very suited to “kill” the corrupt and she is not affected by the games the corrupt are playing. She can work even under Duterte as Pres, to finish what she has started to jail the corrupt, Duterte will have no choice but agree with De Lima. The pork barrel case will go on till 2020 or more, perhaps one of the three pork barrel cased senators may not last till verdict is finalized. A bit of conscience is enough to trigger self persecution, just watch what may happen as days rolls by…

              • Joe America says:

                Duterte would not be a boring president, for sure. All those puffy desk-bound generals would probably go out and start working on their abs. And China would get stung about every other day with a Duterte special.

              • Joe America says:

                I’m starting to like the idea of Duterte.

              • S-Tambay says:

                Pres pnoy accomplished, only 3 senators was charge not convicted yet for 6 years ..that very very low oh I forgot to mention the wang wang accomplishment. If trillanes become 2016 President his Accomplishment against corruption might be one,namely Binay and no wang wang and still blaming GMA for Abnoy 6 years agonizing term

      • S-Tambay says:

        I vote to that human being that will promised to crucified abnoy of his corruption and tons of lying ang also to promise to finished the Hacienda Luicita issue

    • J says:

      I’d like to share a 2012 post on The Nutbox entitled “Why Trillanes is the Wrong Man”

  8. Janice says:

    I’d take his opinion in trying to strengthen the defense of the Philippines (like giving more power to the president to procure military equipment) but there are a lot stance in social issues that bothers me. But then, that’s just me. I’m looking more into someone who is progressive-minded but at the same time adhere to good Filipino(not “CBCP”) values.

    I don’t know, this dude is a very weird mix of conservative and progressive. It’s quite troubling

    I think the Philippines will be better off if he will be appointed as the head of defense rather than being the “commander-in-chief”

    • Joe America says:

      “. . . this dude is a weird mix of conservative and progressive . . .” Bingo. Thanks for nailing what has been nagging at me. I don’t know that I can grab onto this guy because his values seem conflicted. Patriotic, but not (a coup is not patriotic). Progressive, but not. Rational, but emotional.

      • Janice says:

        If he’s a less ardent Catholic, he’d probably be the best 2016 candidate despite the coup attempts. Definitely better than Binay. I just could not come into terms that he is anti RH bill and anti-divorce (aka anti-option)

        If the presidential battle becomes between him and Binay, I’d definitely go for Trillianes. After all, I think the legislature can override what the president “feels” over RH and Divorce. At least Trillianes has some progressive views. Binay is all regressive. LOL. Also, Trillianes seems to be hinting he wants the defense to be better while Binay almost wants for the Philippines to be a Chinese vassal state.

        Other than that, he really needs to work on his public speaking and communication skills.

  9. brianitus says:

    Isnt he the senator who ran up a hefty (i forgot the exact amount) travel expense even if he was behind bars?

    Anyway, I guess I dont trust someone who’d use force to get his point across. I also dont trust that backchannel thing he did. Last thing I’d want for a national leader is for that person to keep springing surprises.

    Anyway, I do like his support for raising salaries in govt. I mean, not because that would cut corruption, but mainly because these people have to live as well. Proposing a raise to fight corruption is an incentive. That’s in the sense that there are no tight controls yet. Integrity needs no incentive for it to come out.

    • Joe America says:

      He is a man of many contradictions, and therefore hard to figure out and hard to have confidence in. That’s my takeaway from what people have said, and from his conflicted values, Catholic and progressive.

      I had not heard of the travel expenses. That’s rather funny if true . . .

      • brianitus says:

        But there are people supporting him to become president. Well, at least on Facebook.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, the question is does he have moneyed backers? I dunno.

        • S-Tambay says:

          Briantitus–Yah U right with the same IP address…He is doomed to be president.I started to hate his ego,instead of make a promise like Pnoy that never materialized, he used the demolition game against Binay or foe to his dream of a Presidency.Why, he has no good credibility and publicity compared to Binay.Look at the eye of a lier. I always against him ,I have no problem voting who will prosecute Pnoy of corruption but that impossible to Binay to do.

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