Antonio "Sonny" Fuentes Trillanes IV

trillanesPhoto from Sonny Trillanes Facebook page.

Antonio Trillanes IV’s unprecedented win in 2007 was widely regarded as a clarion call against corruption. Then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration buckled under reports of massive corruption and various Senate investigations. Will he be able to replicate this feat in his vice-presidential run?

Mutiny leader and performance

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Trillanes’ career as a politician is how he was able to mount a winning campaign from his prison cell, on what his website describes as “a shoestring budget”.

Gaining a Senate seat in 2007, he was not able to step inside the halls of the Upper House until 2010, when President Noynoy Aquino granted him amnesty. He claims being the most prolific senator based on the number of bills authored, co-authored or sponsored that became laws.

Trillanes had almost finished the electronics and communications engineering degree he was then taking at De La Salle University when he chose to become a cadet in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), graduating cum laude in 1995. He came into public prominence in 2003 when he led fellow soldiers in an attempt to overthrow the Arroyo administration in what is now known as the Oakwood Mutiny, citing rampant government corruption, especially in the upper ranks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as the primary reason.

Trillanes’ career is remarkable in many respects — he was even noticed by a fellow senator and a showbiz honcho for being “handsome”. But will he be able to use his laurels and looks to win the vice-presidency?

Anti-corruption, through and through

While fighting corruption is the talk of the town every election season, Trillanes believes he is the person with the track record that shows he walks the talk. Even as a graduate student of Public Administration at the University of the Philippines Diliman, he wrote about corruption in government. According to his website, these papers were published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

Aside from his anti-corruption drive, he has also pushed several measures to improve Metro Manila’s transportation situation, while also introducing proposals for sustained economic growth. He advocates relocating the capital and has filed a bill in the Senate to this effect. He has also vocally spoken against the K-12 program of the current administration.

Overall, Trillanes frames his candidacy as an “opportunity to present the Magdalo reform agenda,” referring to his political party. Having no official running mate, Trillanes supports Senator Grace Poe’s run.

‘Kulang sa pansin’?

Much of the flak that Trillanes receives is from the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay, in connection to his seemingly relentless attempts to expose the corruption of the latter. He has drawn comments such as “papansin” because of this.

Whatever his true motives are, Trillanes clarified that his move to expose the alleged corruption of the current Vice-President is in aid of legislation, not demolition. He has expounded on this point on his website, saying that he, in fact, has come up with various proposed measures that would provide safeguard against corruption in response to what Binay allegedly did.

A more pressing concern of Trillanes’ candidacy is his low ranking in pre-election surveys. He has consistently ranked last while others either keep their lead or gain traction among more voters. All these are beside the fact that there are still some who cannot see him beyond his coup attempt more than a decade ago. As such, some voters consider him as a non-option. His track record as a prolific legislator might be indisputable but whether that will resonate with voters on Election Day is another question altogether.