The ANC Brief: Sept. 27, 2018


Posted at Sep 27 2018 12:26 AM

A fierce critic of the Duterte administration could be brought to his knees by the courts, while inflation is still front and center in the country’s economy. These are the stories making the headlines on ANC today:

Senator Antonio Trillanes gives a press briefing at his office at the Senate in Pasay, September 26, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Trillanes’ troubles

The legal problems of Sen. Antonio Trillanes are not yet over. The Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 148 is set to resolve the coup d’etat case against him anytime now. This is after the DOJ replied to Trillanes’ comment on the charge which included affidavits of military officials who received the senator’s application for amnesty. After his amnesty was revoked by the president, the DOJ asked the Makati court to order the rearrest of Trillanes and to continue trying his case. The crime of coup d’etat is a non-bailable offense and an order for his arrest will mean Trillanes is looking at jail time. ANC will check with legal experts on his possible options. It’s possible Trillanes may file a motion for reconsideration. He may continue staying in the Senate until his appeal is resolved. In any case, things aren’t looking too good for someone who is probably the Duterte administration’s fiercest critic. If he is jailed, he will be the second senator of the republic behind bars.

Split beliefs

The Social Weather Stations said 47 percent of Filipinos are undecided whether police are telling the truth when it comes to claims by law enforcers that they had to kill drug suspects because they resisted arrest (nanlaban). Opinions on these kinds of cases are split, with 26 percent saying they do not believe the police while 27 percent said police are telling the truth. In another story, the Supreme Court has dismissed a petition filed by businessman Peter Lim to stop a reinvestigation into his alleged involvement in drugs that the DOJ is conducting on him. A first panel from the DOJ cleared Lim last December. But former DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre created a second panel to reinvestigate the case. This led to the filing of drug cases against him before the Makati City Regional Trial Court. A warrant of arrest has been issued against him but authorities have yet to find him. Will the administration exert the same effort in going after Lim as it seems to be exerting in going after its critics? Meanwhile, in the Senate, Blue Ribbon Committee chair Richard Gordon said he disagrees with President Duterte’s claim that the PDEA was merely speculating when the agency said magnetic lifters recovered in Cavite were emptied of shabu. Gordon’s committee is investigating how a P6.4 billion shabu shipment managed to slip through Customs. 

Smoke and mirrors

Security officials are continuing the push of the “Red October” ouster narrative, which was revealed just as the country was marking another anniversary of martial law. DILG Sec. Eduardo Ano said there are efforts to recruit soldiers to join the supposed ouster plot against President Duterte. Earlier, the administration claimed that various forces opposed to government are coalescing in a bid to overthrown the Duterte administration. In a recent speech, President Duterte told soldiers not to bother joining a coup and that he would step down willingly. 

Inflation on their minds

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is expected to rate interest rates today in an effort to stem rising inflation and steady a shaky peso. The expectation is a hike of 50 basis points, which means the BSP has raised interest rates by 100 basis points since May. The Fed is also expected to raise rates by 25 basis points. Can the new interest rate hike provide some impetus to the markets? Meanwhile, the ADB raised its inflation forecasts for the country in 2018 (from 4 to 5 percent) and 2019 (from 3.9 to 4 percent). Hopes are still pinned on infrastructure investments and steady domestic consumption to prop up the economy. But will things get worse before they get better?