Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV today said he’s unfazed by multiple cases filed against him by the government, including a conspiracy to commit sedition charge in connection with the viral “narco list” videos that accused Duterte allies of profiting from the drug trade. In fact, Trillanes is so unbothered by his legal woes that he says he turned down offers of political asylum from at least two European countries.
The former senator said in an interview today on the news cable show ANC Early Edition that the cases were just President Rodrigo Duterte’s tools “to silence the opposition and instill fear in others so that they won’t follow suit. That’s just how they act.”
Trillanes, one of Duterte’s most vocal critics, went on to describe the charges as “file and forget” cases, which have the intention to distract and inconvenience whoever the charges are being levied against.
“[P]eople are slowly realizing that our earlier assertions and allegations [about the government] were true. And I’ve seen how this administration got into power back in 2016, wherein he [Duterte] had an almost cult-like image and following, and it’s very difficult to penetrate people’s hearts and minds at the time,” he said.
“And now you can see, conversions… realizations are being made by the day.”
Trillanes believed that surveys showing Duterte’s extreme popularity among Filipinos were either compromised or have sampling errors that distort real-world results. He made this conclusion after having personally met pro-Duterte people who he said had “converted to anti-Duterte or at least being neutral.”
“I have yet to encounter somebody who met anyone who used to be anti-Duterte and is now pro,” he added. “This may be anecdotal but I can feel it on the ground.”
He went on to say that his team conducted their own surveys, which show that the number of Duterte supporters is supposedly declining. It was based on this belief that Trillanes rejected two offers of political asylum because he thinks that opposition forces are “actually winning.”
Trillanes did not name the countries that supposedly offered him asylum, but said they were places where he went to for speaking engagements.
Barely a week ago, a warrant of arrest was issued against the former senator, along with 10 other personalities accused of conspiring to commit sedition. All 11 people were charged for supposedly producing the video “Ang Totoong Narco List” (“The True Narco List”), which alleges that the president’s son, Congressman Paolo Duterte; his close confidant, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go; and his son-in-law, Manases Carpio, have received millions from the illegal drug trade.
Trillanes arrived at the airport on Tuesday morning from the U.S. and reportedly went straight to the Quezon City Hall of Justice to post a PHP10,000 bail (US$197) in connection with his latest case. He avoided airport arrest because his warrant wasn’t forwarded to the Bureau of Immigration in time for his arrival.
Aside from this case, he has been charged with separate charges of inciting to sedition, libel (filed against him by presidential son Paolo), and rebellion in connection with the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.
This article, Trillanes claims he refused political asylum in two countries following sedition charges, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!