MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday said there is an exception to their tradition of respecting upperclassmen in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) after some of his fellow PMA alumni denounced him for the way he treated the late former military chief Angelo Reyes during a Senate hearing.
"Honor code violators do not deserve respect," he said, referring to the PMA cadets' vow against cheating, lying, and stealing.
The PMA Honor Code states: We, the cadets, do not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate among us those who do so.
Trillanes also said that he does not respect PMA upperclassmen who humiliated him and other soldiers who staged failed coup attempts against the administration Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The senator maintained, however, that he has always been respectful towards his upperclassmen at the military academy regardless of the position he's holding now.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that he understands the sentiments of certain PMA graduates who denounced Trillanes’ behavior towards Reyes.
Enrile, however, also said that he also understands Trillanes' situation as someone new in the Senate. "He has not been really grounded on the rules," he said.
Enrile added that Trillanes felt strongly about the issue being heard.
"He was incarcerated for 7 years precisely because of the very issue that was in front of him at the time we were hearing the case in the Blue Ribbon Committee: corruption," Enrile said.
Because Trillanes is no longer a soldier, Enrile also said he can no longer be censured by his fellow PMA alumni in any way.
Enrile said Trillanes' actions and words in Senate proceedings cannot be questioned by anybody or used as a basis to file charges against him.
'Reyes honorable, Trillanes uncavalier'
The PMA superintendent on Monday gave varying assessments of several alumni involved in the military corruption scandal being unearthed at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings.
PMA superintendent Vice Admiral Leonardo Calderon said Reyes, a PMA Class of 1966 alumnus, was an honorable man who commanded the respect of his men. Reyes committed suicide last week after being accused of pocketing P50 million in goodwill money upon his retirement as military chief in 2001.
On the other hand, Calderon criticized the "uncavalier" behavior of Trillanes, a member of PMA Class of 1979, towards Reyes during the Senate inquiry.
Trillanes on Monday said he has learned a lesson from the suicide of Reyes but stopped short of expressing regret for humiliating the former national defense secretary during the Senate inquiry.
Asked if he regrets berating Reyes during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, Trillanes on Monday told ANC's "Headstart": "I'm the kind of person who doesn't regret anything in life because that's the only key where I can move on, but I do learn lessons in life. Negative experiences can bring out lessons and I learn from that. Looking back, that's how destiny played for us. That encounter, no matter how unfortunate it looks now in hindsight, there's no going around it anymore. We just have to live with that."