Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV “has always been a valued ally” of the opposition, Vice President Leni Robredo’s spokesman said on Thursday, July 29, as they are still open to working with him in a bid to come up with a united opposition for 2022 polls despite his latest tirade against them.
The former senator and now professor could have reached out instead to them on his qualms about the meeting that happened last week between Robredo and Senator Richard Gordon and then with Senator Panfilo Lacson and his running mate, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.
“I would still like to think that there is a lot of room to work with him. There is still a lot of common principles. We have nothing but (the) highest respect for him,” lawyer Barry Gutierrez said in an interview on ANC’s Dateline.
Robredo’s spokesman asked Trillanes to “always reach out” to them if he has concerns since they are “allies.”
Trillanes on Wednesday, July 28, warned that his group, the Magdalo Party, will withdraw its support of Robredo if she gives way to the Lacson-Sotto tandem.
Gutierrez, after also confirming the meeting, defended Robredo’s actions, saying that the former senator just had an “overreaction” on something that’s “so far from the truth.”
“It was an initial meeting. There was no backing out, there was no alliance formed, there was no political decision made,” he said.
“Listening to Senator Trillanes, it is as if he is already assuming that the vice president will withdraw, or if not, then the vice president will already form an alliance with all these people that she talked to,” Gutierrez added.
Also on ANC, the former senator criticized the Liberal Party (LP) for this “proactive decision” for Robredo to meet with Gordon, Lacson, and Sotto. Robredo, as the party’s highest elected official, is its chairperson.
Trillanes said it “raised a red flag” for the Magdalo Party because “the most powerful message of the opposition is change.”
“Pag sumama tayo sa mga taong ganyan (If we join these people), then that message is lost,” he added, referring particularly to Gordon whom he called an “enabler” and “complicit” to President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
Gordon, who was the chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, terminated the probe into the President’s anti-drug campaign and said that there was no evidence of state-sponsored killings.
“This is not a principled or coalition built on principles, but coalition based on convenience and expediency, so out kami sa ganun. Hindi ganun ang paniniwala namin (we’re out of that coalition. That’s not what we believe in),” Trillanes said.
The former Navy officer also questioned if the Liberal Party really opposed the administration, to which Gutierrez defended Robredo.
“Come on. The vice president has been the receiving end of probably the most vicious negative campaign on social media that we have ever seen in our entire history. She is regularly maligned by high-ranking members of this administration and she has continuously spoken up on the issue that she feels important—from human rights, extrajudicial killings to the handling of pandemic,” he stressed.
Gutierrez said that Trillanes’ accusations are “simply speculation” because Robredo is “very clear that any decision, any possible alliance, any possible cooperation still has to be anchored on a shared set of principles, a shared unity in so far as 2022 is concerned.”
Robredo has yet to announce if she will run as president in 2022, but she said in the past that she wants to be instrumental in bringing a united opposition together as this is the only way it will be possible to defeat the administration’s bets next year.