Producing a new diagram, the Palace on Wednesday accused members of the Liberal Party, the Magdalo group and some media organizations of working hand in hand in a conspiracy to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
Those named in the latest Palace smear denied and ridiculed the allegations, with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines calling Malacañang’s new matrix “a piece of unadulterated crap.”
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar presented a new diagram purporting to show links in the conspiracy against Duterte.
A first matrix, leaked through the Manila Times on April 22, did not include opposition politicians.
“The President has received intelligence information that has been validated and appears to show that there is deliberate attempt to discredit this administration, as well as to boost the candidacies of the opposition’s senatorial candidates,” Panelo said.
“And it appears that there are certain groups who are working together to achieve this goal. This group appears to be the Liberal Party. Some personalities identified as advocates or very active in social media, dishing out anti-Duterte statements and sentiments and validated to be allied with the Liberal Party,” Panelo added.
The Palace official said the new diagram was related to the matrix released to the public two weeks ago.
“The other group, by the way, is Magdalo. It appears from this diagram that the Liberal Party, the Magdalo and other groups indicated in the matrix are working hand in hand,” he said.
He said the administration believes the ouster plot was hatched to help opposition senatorial candidates such as former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and former Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda were also named in the new diagram.
The Palace also linked journalists Ellen Tordesillas and Inday Espina-Varona to the supposed ouster plot. Rodel Jayme, the owner and web developer of the Metrobalita.net, was also tagged in the same conspiracy.
Panelo denied suggestions that the release of the new diagram was part of a government propaganda effort.
“No, it’s not propaganda. It’s propaganda of these people mentioned or shown in the diagram against this administration and to boost the candidacies of Otso Diretso,” he said, referring to the opposition coalition that includes the Liberal Party.
“Definitely, we are revealing the black propaganda against the administration… Hopefully, by revealing it to the public, we are preempting their move,” he said.
Panelo could not say, however, how the new diagram was arrived at or the source of the intelligence report, saying only that the public should believe the information because it came from the President.
“He has many sources. Knowing him as one who is a thinking President, he would have validated every information he has received,” he said.
He urged reporters to ask the President directly about his sources.
Panelo said the Palace would let the Justice department investigate the information and file the appropriate charges if the evidence warranted legal action.
On April 22, the Palace first released a matrix tagging media organizations Rappler, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, VERA Files, and even the National Union of People’s Lawyers in an alleged conspiracy.
All of the groups at the time denied the allegations and urged the administration to substantiate its accusations, but Panelo said there was no need to prove their case.
Liberal Party president Senator Francis Pangilinan said the administration was doing what it has always done when confronted by controversy—falsely accuse others of being involved in ouster plots.
“It’s all made up,” Pangilinan said in Filipino, referring to the latest diagram linking his party to a move to overthrow the government.
He said instead of making up diagrams, the Palace should explain why it has not arrested a single drug lord or punished any official in the Bureau of Customs over the smuggling in of tons of shabu.
Trillanes assailed the latest attempt to link the Magdalo group and some media organizations to a plot to remove the President.
He said the President has ordered the killing of thousands of Filipinos, accumulated billions in hidden wealth, destroyed democratic institutions, cursed god and invented accusations against his critics.
“Now we are the ones discrediting [the government],” he said.
The NUJP said it refused to dignify the latest Palace accusations.
“At best, this is yet another badly concocted fiction meant to scare their perceived enemies but which only ends up making them look ridiculous. At worst, and this is a real concern, we cannot imagine what pressures Jayme might have undergone or been made to undergo to underpin this fallacy,” the group said.
“And we stress again this government’s criminal endangerment of people it accuses of serious offenses without an iota of evidence,” the NUJP continued. “But we say let them try their worst. They cannot scare the community of independent Filipino journalists into silence.”
Opposition congressman Gary Alejano on Wednesday denied having a hand in producing the viral video series “Ang Totoong Narco-list” and questioned the credibility of the Palace in releasing a new diagram.
“I categorically state that I am not involved in the Bikoy videos and have not conspired with anybody to produce such videos. I do not know Bikoy and have not met him ever,” Alejano said in a statement.
“Malacañang has a long history of releasing unvalidated information to the public. They even backtrack… in the middle of the issue,” Alejano said.
“Their allegations are clearly false, malicious and irresponsible. I do not think the Filipino people believe spokesperson Panelo,” he added.
Alejano said the matrix was released to “destroy the image of the opposition before the electorate.”
“Do they feel threatened by us to resort to such ludicrous and cowardly acts? The opposition, or any other group, does not have to do anything to discredit or destabilize the administration. They are the ones who are destroying themselves,” he added.
Varona said the latest accusations official verify “the level of idiocy and incompetence in Malacañang.”
“Panelo isn’t just a liar. He’s an IQ-challenged liar,” she said.
The Department of Justice said it would study the new matrix unveiled by the Palace.
“I have not seen this new ouster matrix,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said. “In any event, the DOJ will study this further to determine if there is enough factual basis to refer this new matrix to the National Bureau of Investigation for investigation.”
Guevarra on Wednesday said the Department of Justice can file inciting to sedition charge against Peter Joemel Advincula, who surfaced earlier to own up to being `Bikoy’ in the “Ang Totoong Narco-list” videos that linked members of the Duterte family to the illegal drug trade.
Guevarra said the DOJ might consider filing charges against Advincula if he would not file complaints against the personalities he identified in the videos including President Duterte’s son Paolo, his partner Honeyley Avanceña and their teenage daughter Veronica, or Kitty.
Guevarra said the NBI is waiting for Advincula to file a complaint supported with evidentiary documents.
“Should he fail to do so, the DOJ will consider his possible inclusion in Rodel Jayme’s inciting to sedition case or indictment for other criminal charges after proper investigation,” Guevarra said, in a text message.
Jayme, who was the administrator of a website that shared the “Ang Totoong Narco-list” videos, has already been charged with inciting to sedition in relation with the anti-cybercrime law for allegedly creating the website.
Jayme has denied he had a hand in the production and the circulation of the videos.
Advincula surfaced on Monday to affirm the allegations made by “Bikoy”. He had sought legal assistance from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, but the group’s National Center for Legal Aid rejected his request.
In the “Ang Totoong Narco-list” videos, “Bikoy,” a hooded man claiming to be a former member of a drug syndicate, accused Paolo of being a member of a drug syndicate and receiving millions of pesos in payoffs.
Avanceña, Kitty, and Duterte’s former aide Christopher “Bong” Go were also mentioned in the videos.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday said Advincula had previously linked former President Benigno Aquino III, former executive secretary Jojo Ochoa, former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas II and Senator Leila de Lima to illegal drugs.
Sotto said Advincula first approached his office in 2016 and turned in a sworn statement and supporting documents, including 19 pages of bank accounts.
After Sotto’s revelation, Senator Panfilo Lacson, who earlier said a Senate panel can schedule a hearing, said the inquiry will no longer be pursued.