After launching his political career from a jail cell, Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th believes it could end in a grave thanks to a relentless campaign against his “hitman” president.
But the former Navy officer with a history of coup attempts appears to thrive on the pressures that have come with regularly accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of being a corrupt mass murderer.
“This man is a sociopath and he has the mindset of a hitman,” Trillanes, 46, told Agence France Presse in an interview.
Duterte ramped up his verbal attacks against Trillanes after the latter accused Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte of being a member of a triad.
“I will destroy him or he will destroy me,” Duterte told reporters.
Since Duterte’s “destroy” remark, his officials and social media supporters have accused Trillanes of hiding ill-gotten wealth in secret bank accounts.
The senator denied those accusations.
“Duterte actually ordered a hit on me. He wants me killed. Aside from the fact he wants cases fabricated so I can be put away (in jail) like Senator (Leila) De Lima,” the father-of-two teenagers said.
Even though he has called for so many killings, Duterte has repeatedly insisted that he would not act outside the law nor allow state-sponsored murders.
Since Duterte assumed office in the middle of last year, police have reported killing more than 3,800 people while thousands of others have been murdered in unexplained circumstances.
Many Filipinos looking for quick solutions to crime continue to support Duterte, according to polls, and he enjoys majority backing in both houses of Congress.
However, a climate of fear has also emerged, with critics warning the president is determined to silence dissenters and drag the Philippines back into a dictatorship.
Duterte has launched tirades against the Supreme Court chief justice, the Commission on Human Rights, the Catholic Church and critical media outlets. He and his allies have then started campaigns to curb their powers or discredit them.
Senator Leila de Lima, who had been one of the most vocal critics alongside Trillanes, was in February jailed on drug trafficking charges she says were fabricated
Trillanes’ critics saw him as a publicity hound chiefly concerned with advancing his political career.
The senator rejected those accusations, insisting he would walk away from politics when his Senate term ended in 2019 to initially pursue a masters degree in international relations.
“In this political fight with Duterte, there is no forthcoming election for me,” Trillanes said as he defended his motives. “And most importantly my life is at stake here. So I believe no political ambition could ever match up to that.” AFP