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MANILA, Philippines – A private lawyer asked the Senate on Monday to investigate Senator Antonio Trillanes IV with respect to his "back channel" missions to China, even as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile claimed receiving information that the Chinese connections of Trillanes in his trips and meetings in Beijing were from China's "military intelligence".
In a four page letter-complaint dated Sept. 24, 2012, Atty. Oliver Lozano said Trillanes should be investigated for treason “for giving the enemy aid and comfort” while supposedly negotiating, as special conduit of the President, for the alleged de-escalation of the tension over Panatag Shoal in Western Luzon.
Enrile at the weekend revealed the information he got about Trillanes’ links to Chinese military intelligence in an ambush interview with reporters at the sidelines of the 365 Club anniversary at the Intercon Hotel.
That sort of connection, Enrile surmised, must account for the ease with which the controversial senator made six trips to Beijing and held about 16 meetings with unnamed Chinese officials, all under the radar. The Senate chief earlier complained that Trillanes’s trips were not put on record with the Senate, not even for administrative purposes, and he never once reported on any trip to the supposedly collegial chamber. Even assuming the sensitive or confidential nature of his mission, the least Trillanes could have done was make a general, confidential report. But in their altercation on the floor last Sept. 18, Trillanes had pointedly told Enrile, “I don’t have to report to the SP [Senate President].”
Trillanes: JPE blundered in Brady Notes
Also on Monday, meanwhile, Trillanes said Enrile had made “monumental blunders” in exposing the so-called Brady Notes, or notes made by Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady on the activities and views of Trillanes as back-channel negotiator .
“First, JPE wrongly assumed that Ambassador Sonia Brady purportedly took those notes down while I was meeting with the Chinese officials. For the record, she was never present in any of the backchannel talks conducted,” Trillanes said. He added that the “first and only official meeting I had with Ambassador Brady in Beijing was held on August 17, 2012, at the Philippine Embassy,” a meeting that Trillanes said he has arranged for, “specifically, to brief her about the background and status of the backchannel talks since she just reported at the embassy sometime in early August.”
“Second, JPE brazenly exposed state secrets just to spite me and it eventually blew up in his face. Lastly, he unwittingly pointed to the DFA as the only possible source of those classified documents,” Trillanes added.
The Brady Notes were read by Enrile during his interpellation of Trillanes last Wednesday, after the latter, in a privilege speech, accused Enrile of railroading the bill splitting Camarines Sur province, a charge that Enrile denied.
The Senate chief said Trillanes used the CamSur bill as smokescreen to deflect attention away from revelations of his back-channel role in China.
For his part, Trillanes said in a statement on Monday that “during our [he and Brady] private meeting, we were only accompanied by Philippine Consul Evangeline Ong Jimenez-Ducrocq and a member of my staff, but, definitely, there were no Chinese officials present. The media could easily ask Consul Jimenez-Ducrocq to confirm this. So, if those Brady Notes indeed exist, this is where she or Consul Jimenez-Ducrocq probably wrote it. Now, I absolutely don’t see anything wrong about conducting a briefing and coordinating with Amb. Brady,” Trillanes said.
‘Phantom of Chinese Opera’
On Monday, Lozano demanded that Trillanes be made to explain such mission, given serious questions that arose over who his contacts were, and who funded his trip, and the extent to which Malacanang Palace was aware of his activities.
“Public interest demands that the treasonable acts of Sen. Antonio Trillanes be investigated to get into the bottom of things and unmask the “Phantom of Chinese Opera” and “Fifth Columnist,” Lozano said.
He added that the definition of treason is disloyalty to the government. “Disloyalty in war” is only one way of committing treason. Giving the enemy aid and comfort is another way.’ He said Art 114 of the Revised Penal Code covers this crime.
Also, Lozano asked the Senate to look into information that Trillanes’s trip was linked to a commercial considerations favoring China.
What was the commitment of Senator Trillanes that supposedly resulted in the pullout of a number of Chinese ships from Scarborough Shoal? Lozano wanted to know. “Is it true that Sen. Trillanes actually attained his alleged achievements against the interest of his sponsor?” Lozano added.
If Trillanes were a backdoor negotiator but subject to the dictation of his contacts in China, he would have no choice except to advance its interest to the prejudice of the Philippines, Lozano said.
Lozano recalled that the Philippine Government, with the support of the US government, had exerted bold efforts to reduce the Chinese ships to no avail, and, he implied, it seemed hard to imagine how Trillanes’s intervention, during his meetings with Chinese counterparts, could effect a pullout without getting anything in return..
“The only plausible consideration for the Chinese alleged pull-out was the surrender of Philippine sovereignty over the Scarborough shoal and preservation of Chinese occupancy therein,” he explained.
Lozano asked the Senate to identify a Chinese tycoon who supported Trillanes’s candidacy, and who supposedly had a part in the designation of the senator to be a backdoor negotiator.
Finally, he wanted to know how much people’s money was spent by Trillanes im his trips to China. “Imagine spending people’s money against the people.”