MALACAÑANG on Monday, April 22, confirmed a newspaper report that identified some journalists and their media organizations behind an alleged plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the matrix showing the alleged link between "Bikoy", the man who has tagged the presidential family in the illegal drugs trade, and some media groups came from the President himself.
The matrix was published by The Manila Times Monday, a few days after Duterte warned that he was going to divulge information from foreign intelligence reports about Bikoy's links to some media firms.
The report claimed that Vera Files president Ellen Tordesillas "acts as the nexus and distributor of the materials of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Rappler and the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL)."
"These organizations, in turn, distribute the false narratives to their respective members," the report stated.
Panelo said there was a "clear" pattern of coordination among these journalists and Duterte's enemies, citing the supposed circulation of "false news" to destabilize the current adminsitration.
"I'm not even surprised if there is such a plot. If you notice, this has been going on. The pattern is clear -- false news, and then [it] transfered to another, and it circulates. So I'm not surprised at all," the Palace official told a press conference.
"They are all there, doing their thing, trying to destroy this government by spreading false news and planting intrigues against the government," he added.
Panelo said the Palace considers as a "serious threat" the supposed connivance between Bikoy and media groups to eventually oust Duterte.
"Lahat naman ng plot (All plots) against the administration will be serious. But whether it will succeed or not is another thing," he said.
The matrix was revealed more than two weeks after the PCIJ released its report "The Dutertes: Wealth Reveal and Riddles".
Panelo said the release of the matrix is meant to thwart the ouster plot against Duterte. He said there is no plan to put the journalists under surveillance.
Asked if media firms critical of Duterte have the capacity to unseat Duterte, the Palace official said: "It's not the capacity. When you conspire with others, you don't have to have the capacity because others will do it for you. In other words, what these people are doing is to give succor or assist the enemy if they are not the enemy themselves."
Pressed against to identify the state enemies who are supposedly being assisted by the media groups, Panelo said: "Kung sino 'yung gustong mag-oust sa Presidente. 'Yun na 'yun. Either tinutulungan nila or sila, kasama sila doon (Anyone who wants to oust the President. That's them. They either help them or are one othem)."
Panelo said that for now, the Duterte government would not make any legal move against the media groups that are allegedly part of the supposed plot to depose the President.
Bikoy's identity was not revealed in the matrix.
Bikoy, who confessed to being a former member of a large drug syndicate, has made allegations of drug payoffs against presidential son Paolo Duterte, an in-law and law office associate of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, a certain Veronica Salvador, and former special assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go.
Panelo could not verify whether the information about Bikoy's alleged connection to some media entities came from foreign sources.
"I do not know which country (supplied the information about Bikoy and other media groups' plot to oust Duterte). If he said that, you have to ask him himself. You can ask him where he got the source and who provided the (information)," Panelo said.
"Alam niyo iyan, iyan ang tinatawag na (This is what you 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 really share information," he added.
Panelo was confident that the alleged ouster plot would not thrive.
"Hahayaan lang namin sila sa ngayon (For now, let them be). Sa ngayon ha kasi (It's just for now because) if the plot thickens and they perform acts which are already violation of the penal laws, that's a different story," he said.
"As far as we're concerned, we're exposing it. But as I said, they can do their worst. We'll just do our best. And the Filipino people naman, apparently, do not believe them. Lahat ng mga kasinungalingan, hindi pinapaniwalaan. Otherwise, matagal nang bumagsak ang rating ng Presidente," he added.
(As far as we're concerned, we're exposing it. But as I said, they can do their worst. We'll just do our best. And the Filipino people, apparently, do not believe them. They do not believe all the lies. Otherwise, the President's rating will fall.) (SunStar Philippines)