The Trillanes’s Gambit

In chess, there are situations when some pieces have to be sacrificed just to protect the king. The same is true in the game called politics and for that reason, some high ranking officials in the Philippines sold their integrity just to protect their boss. So they twisted facts and became peddlers of misinformation and even made this practice an official policy of the government.

But if protecting the king is a practice , a different move surprised everyone in the Philippine political chess game — protecting the Queen. And many fell for it. Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV announced Wednesday, May 12, that if Vice President Leni Robredo will not run for President in 2022, he had decided to convey to the 1Sambayan Coalition to change his status from being an alternate candidate to a principal candidate for President.

Trillanes’s announcement took the social media by a storm and became the focus of attention for a time being. Not only the netizens reacted but also the people at the Palace with Presidential Spokesperson Harry telling Trillanes to “dream on“. Trillanes is a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a way, Trillanes’s announcement deflected criticisms against Robredo who had been floated as the opposition’s standard bearer in the 2022 Presidential elections. Robredo who had not categorically stated her stand on the matter continued to implement programs to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic despite her office’s meager budget. But because politics is politics, supporters of the administration had been pounding her with, at times, low blows.

Attracting the attention, of course, did not only benefit Robredo but also Trillanes himself. He was able to generate free media mileage as well as measure the pulse of the public. Apparently, many are not convinced of the manner he criticizes Mr. Duterte but will support him anyway just to avoid another Duterte presidency.

Mr. Duterte is being labelled by his supporters as a master strategist. Whether or not he expected the knight’s move, nobody knows. What is clear is that Trillanes’s announcement has become another headache to the problems Mr. Duterte’s henchmen are facing.

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