Thursday, September 20, 2012

Senator Trillanes May Have Been Back-Channeling for China, Says Senate President Enrile

It turns out that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV had been back-channeling for the Philippines for longer period than what was previously reported as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile berated the young senator for having gone to China fifteen times, without getting permission from the latter.

It should have been in protocol for Senator Trillanes to have notified the Senate about his travels to China, considering that he was undertaking some kind of government function, nonetheless a bit clandestine.

And the drama even becomes convoluted when Senator Enrile, in a privilege speech, had accused Senator Trillanes of undermining the interest of the country and instead “working for China”. This would be tantamount to treason.

“Are you becoming the fifth columnist of China in this country? Who paid for those trips to Beijing?” Senator Enrile poignantly asked Senator Trillanes.

According to Senator Enrile, Trillanes had sided upon the interest of China upon examining some points in notes taken by former Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady dated August 17. The notes include such line:

  • That the Chinese wanted the Philippines to “tone down the rhetoric” on its incursion in Panatag Shoal.
  • That Trillanes suspected that the United States was involved in creating tension in Panatag Shoal and that Del Rosario was “committing treason.”
  • That Trillanes “was protecting the Chinese,” “was alarmist” and accused Del Rosario of “creating a war event.”
  • That Trillanes asked businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, a close friend of Del Rosario, to advise the secretary “to keep quiet, to quiet down” apparently because the secretary held a press conference decrying Chinese presence in Panatag Shoal
  • That Trillanes stated “no one cares about Panatag Shoal in the Philippines.”
  • That Trillanes said the Philippines “cannot enforce coastal protection” since fishermen subsist only on fishing and cannot venture far out.
  • That Trillanes boasted that he was able to make 40 Chinese ships leave Panatag Shoal.
  • That Trillanes volunteered to become the “direct channel” between China and Malacañang.

Luckily for Senator Trillanes, quipping that in the Philippines “nobody cares about Panatag Shoal” could not be enough ground for the instance of the crime of “Treason” in our jurisdiction.

The Revised Penal Code states about "Treason": (Article 114, Section 1, Chapter 1, Book Two)

Any Filipino citizen who levies war against the Philippines or adheres to her enemies, giving them aid or comfort within the Philippines or elsewhere, shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death and shall pay a fine not to exceed P100,000 pesos.

No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses at least to the same overt act or on confession of the accused in open court.

Likewise, an alien, residing in the Philippines, who commits acts of treason as defined in paragraph 1 of this Article shall be punished by reclusion temporal to death and shall pay a fine not to exceed P100,000 pesos. (As amended by E.O. No. 44, May 31, 1945 and Republic Act No. 7659.)

What should endanger Senator Trillanes however is the phrase “adheres to her enemies” and if war breaks out with China, then he could be siding with the enemy and be criminally liable for it and no parliamentary immunity could save him since the penalty would be far longer than the six years allowance at reclusion perpetua to death.

Other charges have been flung like Trillanes being a “coward”, “a fraud” and a “liar”. The young senator had been called “a warfreak” previously by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

While on the one hand Trillanes had termed Senator Enrile as a “lackey” of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and was “revealing sensitive information on foreign relations and national security,” by publicly exhibiting the reports made by former Ambassador Sonia Brady, which could lead to the offense of “Espionage”.

The Revised Penal Code states about “Espionage”:

Article 117. Espionage. - The penalty of prision correccional shall be inflicted upon any person who:

1. Without authority therefor, enters a warship, fort, or naval or military establishment or reservation to obtain any information, plans, photographs, or other data of a confidential nature relative to the defense of the Philippine Archipelago; or

2. Being in possession, by reason of the public office he holds, of the articles, data, or information referred to in the preceding paragraph, discloses their contents to a representative of a foreign nation.

The penalty next higher in degree shall be imposed if the offender be a public officer or employee.

And so this drama tinge with international character continues to brew and steam. Let us see what would happen next.



  1. I was following this event yesterday and I think both of them are losers in this exchange as they practically through all the dirty little secrets. I was shocked though the JPE would reveal state secrets in a public event just to win an argument. I personally don't think those comments especially it involves another country where there is already friction should be disclosed in a public forum.

  2. I saw this in the news this morning, too. And I thought: "Sheesh, what's with these senators?"

    Then again, are these all true? Is there evidence to back Enrile's allegations? Honestly, I don't know both sides of the story yet.

  3. @ Franc: I liked that. So much dirt have been thrown here actually. We should be ashame of ourselves. China must be really smirking with satisfaction as of this moment.

  4. @ Maricel : The Brady Notes are factual but not enough to pursue treason charges against Sen. Trillanes, but it could be close. What is shocking here is that such confidential documents should not be made public now that the China conflict is at its most sensitive phase. It might give advantage to the 'enemy' counterpart.

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