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Officer, rebel, Senator Trillanes’ mission: The vice presidency

From staging a coup to leading investigations in the Senate, Trillanes is set to embark on a new mission to serve the government.
By Elyssa Christine Lopez |
ON A MISSION. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV hopes to serve the country as a vice president this time, with his anti-corruption advocacy. Photo from Trillanes' Facebook account


He braved stormy seas to rescue survivors from a ship wreck. He pulled off a coup in protest of corruption. Now he is about to embark on a whole new mission: win the vice-presidential seat.



Senator Antonio "Sonny" F. Trillanes IV caught the public attention after staging the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny in Makati City in protest of the alleged corruption in the military under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration. In 2007, he tried his chances in the Senate and was favored by more than 11 million voters.


Three years after winning the elections, the Magdalo Group, or the officers involved in the coup incident were granted amnesty by President Benigno Aquino III.


He ran again for senator in 2014, this time, winning by more than 14 million votes.


Will he sway them again on his side this coming elections?



The navy officer

Even before the coup, Trillanes had a stellar career in the military. He graduated cum laude from the Philippine Military Academy as a cadet with a degree in BS Naval System Engineering.


In his 5-year voyage as part of his duty, he was involved in various naval operations against smugglers, illegal loggers, poachers, human smugglers, and illegal fishermen from the waters of Batanes to Maguindanao. He earned 23 assorted merit medals, campaign ribbons, and badges during his service.



He did not stop there, as he entered the University of the Philippines for his master’s degree in Public Administration in 2002 and earned accolades for his outstanding remarks.


He is currently on his second term in the Senate, and so far, has authored and/or co-authored 49 laws, including Anti-Bullying Law; New Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act; Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act; and Anti-Drunk And Drugged Driving Act of 2013.



Anti-corruption stance

In the last decade, Trillanes emerged into public consciousness as an anti-corruption advocate, leading investigations as a member of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.


He has been a vocal critic of the Binays, following the controversial overpriced Makati City parking lot, involving Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son, former Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay. And more recently, called on Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on allegedly failing to disclose his real income on his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth in 2014.



Trillanes highlighted this specific advocacy as one of his platforms.


“I was jailed for seven and a half years, and was elected senator in the process, since then I pushed for the interest of the people…. I will focus and solve the problems on peace and order and lead the anti-corruption drive,” Trillanes said in his opening speech at the first vice presidential debate on April 10.


Related: 6 things you missed from 1st PH VP debate on TV

Like Cayetano, Trillanes has been tagged as one of the poorest legislators as he declared income less than P6 million ($127,510.47) from 2013 to 2014.


When he was accused of owning luxury cars, Trillanes denied the allegations and insisted the luxury vehicles were not his, but his mothers’ as part of “van transportation business.”


An independent candidate, Trillanes was joined by his Magdalo brothers when he filed for his candidacy in 2015, but declared he supports the presidential run of Senator Grace Poe.



"We will continue what we started in 2003. We never stopped fighting for what we stood for, and today, we will serve the nation once more,” Trillanes said in a media briefing after he filed for his candidacy in October last year.


However, Trillanes never managed to rise in the polls, and remained at the bottom with a lowly 2%.


But after his controversial revelations on the alleged accounts of Duterte in recent weeks, it looks Trillanes is more than ready to get back to work, in case this mission does not see the light of day.


“I will file for an impeachment in the Senate if he (Duterte) wins the elections,” Trillanes said in a press conference.



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Entrepreneur Philippines profiles the leading presidential, vice presidential, and senatorial candidates in the upcoming May 9, 2016 elections. We aim to help voters know these candidates through their platforms focusing on the economy, entrepreneurship, tax reform. 


Elyssa Christine Lopez is's editorial assistant/writer. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz. 

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