MANILA – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV believes the popularity of President Rodrigo Duterte will eventually wear off.
Despite a slew of criticism from here and abroad over his controversial war on drugs and diplomatic stunts, Duterte still enjoyed high scores in popularity surveys three months into his presidency.
But Trillanes said Duterte’s popularity will wane once the public “realizes” the truth about Duterte.
“In the case of the EJKs (extrajudicial killings), the stench is so bad, no matter how you cover it up or spray perfume around it, it will continue to come out and stick. So it's just a matter of time,” Trillanes said in an interview on ANC Beyond Politics.
“The thing with a very popular president is people would give him always some leeway, the benefit of the doubt but eventually it will wear out. And the truth, once it's pounded on them and once they realize, then things will change.”
Trillanes said in the Senate, there have been “whispers” from several lawmakers expressing opposition to how Duterte is running the government.
“Yung boses na talagang matingkad ay hindi pa gaanong lumalabas, but in whispers there are those who are opposed to what President Duterte is doing,” he said.
(The loud voices have yet to come out, but in whispers there are those who are opposed to what President Duterte is doing.)
Trillanes believes lawmakers who have so far remained silent about issues involving Duterte will eventually voice their opposition once they notice public opinion turning against the president.
“As you've been noticing lately, the voices, the dissenting voices are getting louder everyday. Maraming nagsasalita. And ganun yun eh. Traditionally kung nasaan yung taumbayan, nandodoon yung mga politiko. Meron lang mga trailblazers, so to speak,” Trillanes said.
(As you’ve been noticing lately, the voices, the dissenting voices are getting louder everyday. Many are speaking out. That’s how it works, traditionally the politicians side with the people. There are just trailblazers, so to speak.)
“But to be fair to the other senators and congressmen out there, in private conversations they're sharing the sentiment and the disappointment of the others who have been seeing what's wrong in this country right now.”
Trillanes said “one more major blunder” could prompt lawmakers to turn against Duterte. He added that lawmakers, especially those who will run in the midterm elections, are also waiting for the results of popularity surveys in deciding what would be their approach to the president.
“Probably one more major blunder that could be a deal-breaker for a lot of our people, that's one. For some, they want to be more scientific, they're waiting for the surveys. They want an accurate indicator of the pulse of the people,” he said.
“Once they feel that President Duterte is no longer popular, then they start bashing away. Remember, 2019 is the midterm elections, so probably the senators who intend to run again in 2019 would carefully calibrate their positions.”
But for now, Trillanes said he and other "trailblazers" will continue to speak against Duterte.
"He is behind these killings and that's the primary difference. The ordinary people, the media tend to look at him as a normal politician but in my eyes, I see a monster," he said.