Palace confirms existence of ‘Oust-Duterte plot’
Updated (5:10 p.m.)
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang confirmed Monday that the “Oust-Duterte plot “matrix, which was published in the Manila Times, was the same information the Palace was supposed to release today.
The matrix has linked media organizations and journalists to the destabilization efforts against President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration.
“The source of that is from the Office of the President, from the President himself. I don’t know how he got one. But it’s coming from the President. I talked to him the other day,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
The media groups tagged as destabilizers were Vera Files, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), and Rappler.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) was also included in the matrix.
Asked if the government would file charges against those in the matrix, Panelo said no, unless they do “overt acts.”
“Basta lumabag na sila. Kapag mayroon na silang mga overt acts to bring down this government (If they violate the law, if they carry out covert acts to bring down this government), that’s a different story,” he said.
“Pero kung ito ito lang muna, eh dati dati naman nilang pinagagagawa ito eh hindi naman sila nagsa-succeed (But with this, they have been doing this, but they don’t succeed). But the public has the right to know. They have to know,” he added.
Panelo said the alleged destabilizers named in the matrix “are at it already for the last how many months already or years.”
“We are just letting them do what they want. We just want them to know that we know, and we want the people to know that they are on this,” he said.
Despite the release of the matrix, Panelo maintained that the Duterte administration has never “stifled dissent” in the country.
“We have never stifled dissent in this country. It’s the President who encourages dissent — that is what democracy is all about,” he said.
“For the last three years, no journalist has been charged with any case in relation to his or her exercise of the freedom of speech or the press,” he added.
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief presidential legal counsel, said the public has the right to know about the ouster plot against the President.
“If there is an ouster plan, then people should know about it,” he said. “People have the right to know what’s happening in this government, and that includes people who want to destroy this government. It is our constitutional duty to inform the public of what is happening.”
The Palace official said destabilizers of the government “can do their worst” while the administration “will just do our best.”
“The Filipino people apparently do not believe them. Lahat ng mga kasinungalingan, hindi naman pinaniniwalaan, otherwise matagal nang bumagsak ang rating ni Presidente (The lies are not believable; otherwise, the President’s rating would have been affected),” he said.
Panelo maintained the government would not file charges for now against the personalities involved.
“Wala, hahayaan lang namin sila… sa ngayon ha, sa ngayon (We are just going to let it pass for now). Kasi (Because) if the plot thickens and they perform acts which are already a violation of the penal laws, that’s a different story,” he said.
Panelo said that receiving information from other countries was not illegal as it was part of the sharing of intelligence information.
“That’s what we call sharing of intelligence information. That’s standard for all countries; they share intelligence information. If it affects the security of a particular country, they will really share information,” he said.
But how reliable is the information in the matrix?
Panelo answered, “Siguro namanconsidering he is the President and he has so many sources eh validated iyan.”
“Galing kay Presidente kaya paniwalaan ninyo (It’s from the President so you can believe it),” he added.
Asked about the possibility that the individuals in the matrix might file libel charges against the government, he said, “Oh di sige (Sure). This is a democratic country nga eh, everyone has the right to sue. But whether or not that will prosper is another story. But we will not stop anybody from filing, that’s their right.” /ee
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