Panelo can’t explain why sportswomen on ‘matrix’
More doubts were raised on Thursday on the credibility of new and expanded diagrams presented by Malacañang to show links among individuals and groups led by the opposition Liberal Party (LP) after two top female athletes were included in the alleged web of conspiracy to discredit President Duterte and his administration.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo could not explain why Hidilyn Diaz, the Asian Games 2018 female weightlifting gold medalist, and star volleyball player and TV host Gretchen Ho were listed in one of six matrices presented to reporters on Wednesday.
The names of Diaz and Ho were in the diagram that centered on Rodel Jayme, who had admitted creating the website metrobalita.net that showed the first of five videos on “The Real Narcolist.” Jayme is now in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation.
The videos featured “Bikoy,” who surfaced on Monday and identified himself as Peter Joemel Advincula, repeating his allegations that members of the Duterte family and their associates were involved in the illegal drug trade.
“I did not make the matrix, I just presented it per instruction of the President,” said Panelo in a text message when sought to clarify on why Diaz and Ho were implicated.
He said he was just handed the PowerPoint presentation “as is” with no explanation of the roles of two women in the alleged plot.
Did he know who created the matrices? “Nope,” he replied.
The linkages indicated that Jayme was a follower of Ho and Hidilyn, in the same way that he also followed Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, an opposition senatorial candidate; Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a Magdalo member and one of the most strident critics of the President; and journalist Inday Espina, a critic of Duterte’s war on drugs.
When he presented the largest diagram, which named the “conspirators” to Malacañang reporters on Wednesday, Panelo said the President had told him to make it public and that it was based on “intelligence information that has been validated.”
The diagram included the names of Duterte’s known critics who were allegedly part of “a deliberate attempt to discredit this administration, as well as to boost the candidacies of the opposition’s senatorial candidates,” he said.
No cases to be filed
The President was not interested in going after those implicated in the new diagrams. On Wednesday night, he told a campaign rally in Bohol province that he would not file criminal charges against them.
“The truth will come out. They released black propaganda that included my daughter. I’m not interested to file cases,” he said in Garcia-Hernandez town.
He said the voice of the narrator in the “Bikoy” videos was a soldier affiliated with the Magdalo group.
“Do you know whose voice was that? That was a soldier. Magdalo. It was a Magdalo production,” the President said.
A bit incredible
Panelo earlier identified the narrator as Bong Banal, an activist artist who had strongly denied it was he.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former national police chief, was “not impressed” by Malacañang’s “matrix,” saying the inclusion of Diaz and Ho made it questionable.
Lacson also could not see how Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, could work with the Magdalo group, which is composed of soldiers or former military men, as the Malacañang diagram indicated.
“It’s a bit incredible at this point in time, at face value,” he added.
He said Diaz was a “gem” who brought honor, pride and prestige to the country. “And then she would be included there. Does the kid have time to be involved in destabilization?” he said.
‘Not in right condition’
Ho, a reliable scorer and part of the “Fab Five” of the Ateneo Lady Eagles volleyball team, had carved out a name for herself in the media, making it unlikely that she would be involved in a supposed plot against Duterte, Lacson said.
“Whoever prepared the matrix or information did not do enough research or was not in the right condition,” he said.
The matrices were released a day after Ho and other TV personalities and artists who supported Duterte’s presidential bid in 2016 were invited to a dinner at Malacañang hosted by the President and his partner, Cielito Avanceña.
Ho said she was surprised by her inclusion, and that she had not even watched the “Bikoy” videos.
Diaz said she was too busy preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to play politics. She said she had sacrificed a great deal to bring honor to the country.
People who dislike Duterte
Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said he could not see the roles of Diaz and Ho in an ouster plot. He said he would consider the Palace matrix as just a list of people who disliked the President.
Reelectionist Sen. JV Ejercito said he knew Ho personally and that she would not be involved in a plot against the administration.
Ejercito said the supposed plan could not succeed anyway, considering that Mr. Duterte enjoyed the trust and confidence of majority of the people. —WITH REPORTS FROM DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN AND LEO UDTOHAN
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