SEN. Antonio Trillanes 4th has shrugged off online criticism of his supposed meltdown in an interview over the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), in which the host said the lawmaker’s views on President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration were “out of tune” with public sentiment.
Trillanes said BBC “Hardtalk” host Stephen Sackur’s observation may be correct, but added that many people have positive views of the administration because they were not aware of the real situation.
“It (BBC interview) was objective… he (Sackur) may be right, but for me it is not necessarily out of tune. It is because the people don’t know what I know,” Trillanes said in an interview.
Sackur during the interview asked the senator whether his positions against Duterte ran contrary to public sentiment translating to the President’s high survey approval ratings.
Trillanes, in response, said “bulk of the Filipino people are busy with their day-to-day living. They don’t really get to know the magnitude of the damage Duterte has done.”
Sackur noted that based on the comments of the public on news websites, the streets were perceived to be safer under the Duterte administration and Filipinos seemed to have no problem with an iron-fisted ruler.
He also cited Duterte’s 75-percent approval rating, which, to western politicians, would be the “best day of their lives.”
Trillanes told Sackur he expected Duterte’s ratings to dip, noting that it had gone down by as much as 17 points in less than a year in office.
“Historically, popularity ratings will change as the information have radiated to the general public. It will take a little time, but his numbers continue to go down and I’m quite confident [that]towards [the end]of the year, it will be way below 50 [percent],” the senator replied.
Sackur then asked Trillanes what his thoughts were about majority of Filipinos choosing Duterte supposedly because they wanted a “tough guy” who could impose order and deal with the illegal drug problem in the country.
Trillanes claimed Duterte created his own crises, saying that while it was true that 98 percent of districts in Metro Manila were affected by drugs, the figures would be low on the national scale.
“In fact our drug problem is not a bad as it seems. While we agree that it should be addressed, it is not the only problem in our country,” he said.
Sackur also asked Trillanes whether he felt that he was “bashing his head against a brick wall” because even after Duterte associated himself with the so-called Davao Death Squad during the presidential campaign, the Filipino people still voted for him.
Trillanes replied: “I am not about to give up on this, even to the Filipino people. It will take some time because the propaganda of the administration is getting in the way of the flow of the truth to the public…”
The BBC anchor then asked Trillanes about the 7 percent growth of the economy, which, according to the World Bank, would continue at least through 2019, and the $15 -billion investment committed by China that seemed to show that Duterte was doing well.
The senator responded that China’s investment commitment only looked good on paper. In reality, it is a loan hinged on the passage of the tax reform plan of the administration which, Trillanes said, would be inflationary and anti-poor.
“We in the Senate do not have any plan of passing it (tax reform package) because it is again inflationary and anti-poor. So we cannot afford to give additional burden to the public and the public appreciates that,” he said.
Trillanes said the BBC interview turned out well and that he even exchanged pleasantries with Sackur after the interview.