10 years ago, Harry Roque called Trillanes a ‘hero’ against an ‘evil regime’

September 6, 2018 - 11:59 AM
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Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque defended the Palace's decision on Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's revocation of amnesty but 10 years ago, the former was an admirer of the senator. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque defended the Malacañang’s decision to try to revoke Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s amnesty. But 10 years ago, Roque himself admired the senator’s principles.

Apparently, Roque had written a blog post titled “A Christmas Tribute to Trillanes” in December 2010. In his now-private blog, the presidential spokesperson—who was previously a human rights lawyer and activist—talked about the senator’s “heroism.”

Social media users were able to share excerpts of his words while a cached copy from Google reveals his whole post prior to his change of blog privacy settings.

They dug the issue in the midst of Roque’s words against Trillanes at present.

When the senator’s amnesty was revoked earlier this week, Roque previously warned, “The past finally caught with Sen. Trillanes. He’s responsible for his current state now.”

“He was the one who did the Oakwood mutiny, the Manila Peninsula siege. There is nothing political. These are all his acts.”

Filipinos were quick to point out his turnaround, despite him admiring the senator a decade ago.

Pre-government Roque: Trillanes is a modern hero 

In his 2010 blog post, Roque recalled how he first saw Trillanes on television, when the latter was involved in the Oakwood mutiny in 2003.

The presidential spokesperson wrote, “But there was excitement when I first saw him on television. Part of it was that he and his men were doing what I myself would want but could not do myself: To bear arms against an evil regime.”

At that time, Trillanes was a Philippine Navy officer with the position of a lieutenant senior grade.

He, together with around 321 armed soldiers (now the Magdalo group), took over the Oakwood Premier Ayala Center (now Ascott Makati) and publicly called for then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign, along with some top government officials.

The group accused them of alleged corruption that involved the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV answers questions from media following President Rodrigo Duterte’s nullification of his amnesty. (The STAR/Mong Pintolo)

Roque continued in his blog post:

“Whenever I feel tired of standing up against evil in government and have the occasional urge to retire into the stereotype of an upwardly mobile lawyer, I think of Sonny Trillanes and the many years that he spent behind bars fighting a regime and a system that is rotten and evil to the core.”

“Whenever I feel that this nation deserves to continue to wallow in poverty because despite a change in government, corruption remains endemic; I ask myself: What have you actually done for this country?”

“Certainly, nothing can (be) compared to what Trillanes and his men did: Like Ninoy, they were willing to die for this country. And unlike me and others who have only raised their voice against evil in government, Sonny gave up seven long years of his youth for this country.”

Roque—specifically the version of him before becoming a politician—admitted that he did not appreciate Trillanes’ initiatives at first. The senator additionally became involved in the February 2006 Marine standoff at Fort Bonifacio and the November 2007 siege at the Manila Peninsula in Makati City.

When Trillanes was released from detention in 2010, Roque had a change of heart and shared that he began to “fully appreciate the heroism of Trillanes and his men.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing at the Malacañang Palace in March 12, 2018. (Presidential photo/Toto Lozano)

He concluded: “Sure, the fight against corruption is far from over. Sure, we continue to wallow in poverty. Sure, the killings are continuing.”

“But for as long as we have young Filipinos willing to die for this country, there will always be hope for this country. That is the true legacy of Sonny Trillanes and his men.”

The Atty. Roque before Rep. Roque and Sec. Roque

Prior to becoming a party-list representative and presidential spokesperson, Roque was a law professor at the University of the Philippines who specialized in constitutional law and public international law for 15 years.

When he left the academe and became a private lawyer, he eventually earned a reputation for defending the poor and the underprivileged.

He represented the victims in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre, the rape victims of the World War II, the family of murdered transgender Jennifer Laude and the family of murdered broadcaster Gerry Ortega.

Roque also co-founded the Center for International Law, a non-profit organization that helps victims of human rights violations and those denied of their freedom of expression.

He then became a representative of the Kabalikat ng Mamamayan (Kabayan) party-list that caters to the marginalized sector — the urban poor, senior citizens, the disabled and migrant workers, among others. — Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos