The Palace reversed itself on Thursday, admitting that a diagram that purportedly linked journalists to a plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte came from an anonymous source and not the President himself, as originally claimed.
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo contradicted his previous statement that the so-called matrix, first published by the Manila Times, came from Office of the President.
“The source of that is from the Office of the President. It’s from the President himself,” Panelo told Palace reporters in a press briefing on April 22.
He also said the President had mentioned that the source of the information was a foreign ally.
At the time, Panelo said only the President knew the origin of the diagram and said the public should believe it as it came from Duterte himself.
As the matrix and the Manila Times story came under fire from most news organizations, Panelo told a different story Thursday, saying he received a copy of it through a text message from “somebody.”
“He (Duterte) did not give me anything. He wasn’t the one who gave it to me, it’s just that someone sent me the matrix. Didn’t I tell you someone sent me a message?” Panelo said, admitting that the number of that “someone” was not registered on his phone.
“He (Duterte) asked me to discuss it (matrix) in the briefing and then somebody sent me a matrix. Then that’s the same matrix, there is no other matrix,” he added.
Panelo said he “reasonably assumed” that the matrix sent to him was the one that Duterte initially talked about. It was also the same matrix that the Manila Times published.
“I just compared it. This must be the same,” he said.
Asked why did he not verify the questionable diagram, Panelo said: “Because I believe the President when he said there is. He’s an authority. He is the Chief Executive of the land. He has unlimited sources of information.”
“I don’t have to verify what the President told me because he is the President. The President does not lie about these things,” Panelo continued.
“The President does not lie on anything, on serious matters, especially if it involves the work of the President. He is a very honest man,” he said.
The supposed ouster plot linked the National Union of People’s Lawyers, and journalists from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Rappler, and the Vera Files to an “oust Duterte” plot.
The allegations have since been denied and ridiculed as false, but the Palace insisted there was no need to substantiate the claims.
The NUPL, on the other hand, said it was “absolutely necessary” for the Palace to prove the veracity of the alleged ouster plot.
“Otherwise, you have to put up or shut up because you cannot just go around, spreading all these lies,” NUPL president Edre Olalia said.