“Their public statements are the best reasons why they should go back to college and take a refresher course on what democracy is all about.
Each time Leni Robredo, the purported Vice President of the Philippines, and Antonio Trillanes IV, the ex-military mutineer who behaves more like a ruffian than a senator, make public statements, they provide evidence of their lack of competence in understanding the Constitution and basic political science.
Last week, Robredo spoke to the news media and praised the day President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino seized power in February 1986, and equated the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to the martial law regime under President Ferdinand Marcos.
Robredo concluded by announcing that democracy in the Philippines is “in death throes again.”
Days after that, Trillanes was arrested by police operatives after the Regional Trial Court of Makati issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with rebellion charges. After Trillanes posted bail, he returned to his hideout in the Senate. Addressing the news media, Trillanes equated his arrest to the “death of democracy” in the Philippines.
Robredo may have a law degree and a belated license to practice Law, and Trillanes may be a college graduate, but their public statements are the best reasons why they should go back to college and take a refresher course on what democracy is all about.
The term democracy originates from the Latin words demos, which means “the people,” and crazein, which means “to rule.” Thus, the term democracy refers to a popularly elected government where the will of the majority of the people prevails.
It must not be confused with the term republican, which emanates from the Latin res, which means “property or possession,” and publica, which roughly means “the voters among the people.” A republican government, therefore, is one where officials are elected by the people at periodic intervals.
It is explicitly stated in the Constitution that the Philippines is both a democratic and a republican state.
Being so, the protestations of Robredo and Trillanes about the supposed “death throes” of democracy in the Philippines, and the “death” of democracy in the country, are unfounded.
In the first place, President Duterte was duly elected in the May 2016 election. He was a non-administration candidate, and he won so convincingly that no computerized poll manipulation could cheat him out of victory.
Secondly, the members of the current Congress and local government leaders are elected officials.
Third, the congressional and local government elections set for May next year are pushing through, as seen in the way both pro-administration political parties and the despised Liberal Party (LP) are preparing for those polls.
The audacity of Trillanes to equate his arrest to the “death” of democracy in the Philippines underscores the very high but misplaced regard he has for himself. Trillanes is not Philippine democracy.
The conceited Trillanes is just one of 23 incumbent senators, and a lame duck at that, in a legislative chamber that cannot enact legislation without the participation of the other chamber ─ the House of Representatives.
Trillanes has conveniently forgotten that the electorate rejected him outright when he ran for vice president in May 2016. He didn’t even place among the top three in a race involving six vice-presidential candidates.
Moreover, Trillanes was arrested on the strength of a warrant duly issued by a court of law, and he was allowed to post bail after his arrest. He is not even under detention.
Where, then, is the “death of democracy” in the Philippines?
Perhaps, what Robredo and Trillanes may have meant to say was that there is no more freedom in the Philippines, or that the rule of law does not exist in the country.
Even assuming that such is what Robredo and Trillanes had in mind during their press conferences, their remarks would have been meaningless just the same.
To repeat, Trillanes was arrested on the strength of a warrant issued by a court, and he was not denied bail. His decision to hole up at the Senate building was his own free will.
Trillanes’ insinuation that the warrant for his arrest was issued because the judiciary is controlled by President Duterte is pure speculation, there being no proof submitted by Trillanes.
In addition, Trillanes has the habit of denouncing a court when the action taken by that court is not to his liking, and praising a court when it rules in his favor. It looks like Trillanes views each court as a lottery outlet.
Likewise, the fact that the political mud Robredo and Trillanes regularly hurl against President Duterte are reported in the local news proves that press freedom is alive and kicking under the Duterte administration.
If democracy in the Philippines is in its “death throes,” as Robredo deceitfully announced last week, then Robredo must explain to the public why she continues to live in comfort and luxury (and at the expense of the State at that) at the government-owned mansion in the plush New Manila district of Quezon City. That mansion was supplied by the Quezon City government headed by Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista, who abandoned Robredo’s LP last year to become a rabid supporter of President Duterte.
“The audacity of Trillanes to equate his arrest to the “death” of democracy in the Philippines underscores the very high but misplaced regard he has for himself.
The Constitution mandates an official residence only for the president. Like the Constitution of the United States, the Philippine charter has no similar provision for the vice president.
That is the reason why American vice presidents, and past Philippine vice presidents like Salvador Laurel, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo, Teofisto Guingona Jr., Noli de Castro and Jejomar Binay never lived in any state-owned mansion at state expense during their separate terms as vice president.
So the next time Robredo and Trillanes decide to open their traps in public, they should first consider taking some refresher courses in college.