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No need to provide proof on oust-Duterte plot, says Palace

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday said it did not need to provide proof to back up its allegations that journalists and lawyers had conspired to hatch a plan to oust President Rodrigo Duterte, and disputed allegations that the supposed evidence to support the plot was obtained illegally.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo acknowleged in a statement that the people named in the so-called oust-Duterte matrix had sought proof of their involvement in the supposed plot.

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But Panelo said the alleged conspiracy was not something for which the coconspirators could be charged in court.

“The matrix shows that there is an ouster plot. It is just a plot, a plan, an idea. The same is not actionable in court, it being just a conspiracy,” he said.

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“Conspiracy is not a crime unless the law specifically classifies a particular conspiracy to undertake a project or actualize a plan as a crime,” Panelo added.

Under the Revised Penal Code, he explained, conspiring to commit a felony is only punishable in cases where the law specifically provides a penalty.

Acts punishable by law

Malacañang would only hale the alleged plotters to court and provide evidence against them if their plans lead to acts punishable by law, he said.

The diagram that Malacañang released on the supposed plot only showed names of journalists, media organizations, a lawyers’ group and the name “Bikoy” with arrows to signify their alleged connections to one another.

“The matrix was disclosed to the public [so that] the ring leaders and their coplotters [will] know that we know, to put them on notice that pursuing their plan by committing overt acts punishable by law will open themselves to criminal prosecution,” Panelo said.

Democracy, free media

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Meanwhile, British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce said at a forum ahead of World Press Freedom Day on Friday that an open and democratic society needed a free and responsible media.

“[N]o society can ever be free if its media is not … So for each and everyone of us, media freedom is our freedom,” Pruce said at “Pahayag: A forum on media freedom and responsibility” held at the Ateneo de Manila University on Monday.

For his part, Canadian Ambassador to Manila John Holmes said, “In times when fundamental freedoms and human rights are being compromised, it is the role of a capable and skilled, responsible media not to step back, but actually to step forward and defend their rights and their obligation, their role in reporting and acting as a watchdog.”

Aside from the two ambassadors, the forum panelists included Philippine Daily Inquirer associate publisher Juliet Javellana, BBC correspondent Howard Johnson, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility board of trustee member Luis Teodoro and award-winning journalist Inday Espina-Varona.

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TAGS: oust Duterte matrix, oust Duterte plot, Rodrigo Duterte, Salvador Panelo
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