Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo shows the "Oust Duterte" matrix to the members of Malacañang Press Corps on April 22, 2019. (PNA photo by Azer Parrocha)

MANILA -- Malacañang on Monday bared a matrix, which shows the names of journalists and media organizations involved in an alleged plot to destroy the image of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

This comes after the Manila Times published the same matrix, which the Palace was supposed to release for the first time on Monday.

In a speech in Tuguegarao on April 16, Duterte said intelligence reports have been fed to him from “foreign” sources about the supposed coordinated media plot to discredit him.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo admitted that the President himself ordered him to release the matrix in a Malacañang press conference.

“The instruction of the President is just to touch on it,” Panelo said.

However, the spokesperson clarified that he had no knowledge as to how the Manila Times managed to get a copy of the matrix even before the Palace had released it.

Panelo also denied that the Office of the President (OP) gave the Manila Times a copy of the matrix.

“I’m supposed to expose it today e naunahan pa ako ng Manila Times (released it ahead of me),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

“The source of that is from the Office of the President, from the President himself. I don’t know how he got one but it’s coming from the President. I talked to him the other day,” he added.

Proper validation

Panelo defended the matrix, stressing that the President has basis to release it and that it underwent “proper validation.”

“You must remember that the President has so many sources so he got the matrix from one of his sources,” Panelo said.

“I’m just saying that this is intelligence information-sharing. That’s how they call it,” he added.

The Spokesperson emphasized the importance of releasing the matrix, saying it is the government’s “constitutional duty to inform the public of what’s happening”.

“If there is an ouster plan then people should know about it. People have the right to know what’s happening in this government and that includes people who want to destroy this government,” Panelo said.

Enemies of the state

Panelo floated the possibility that the journalists and media organizations listed in the matrix could be feeding their stories to “enemies of the state”.

“I suppose they are the enemies of the state. Sino pa ba ang gustong magpabagsak kundi yung mga kalaban ng estado (Who else would want to overthrow the government if not enemies of the state)?” Panelo said.

Among the names mentioned in the matrix are members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), and Rappler.

According to Panelo, the matrix worked in such a way that a certain “Bikoy”, the source of these negative reports against the President, would provide stories to Vera Files President Ellen Tordesillas, who would later distribute the stories to the NUPL, PCIJ, and Rappler to write about.

Let them be

Panelo said the purpose of releasing the matrix is just to “expose” the ouster plot, but the Palace would refrain from filing any charges against the journalists and media organizations involved at the moment.

Pinapabayaan lang natin (We just let them be). We just want them to know that we know. And we want the people to know that they are on this,” Panelo said.

He, however, said “overt acts to bring down the government” made by these journalists and media organizations might force the Palace to consider the filing of charges.

“But if the plot thickens and they perform acts which are already violation of the penal laws, that’s a different story,” he added.

He acknowledged that all threats against the Duterte administration are taken seriously but he expressed confidence that it would not succeed.

Lahat naman ng plot (All the plots) against the administration will be serious but whether it would succeed or not is another thing,” Panelo said.

Panelo said releasing the matrix was already an act of telling the public not to trust the journalists and media organizations mentioned.

He noted that the President will just continue doing his job to give Filipinos a more comfortable life.

“The counter-propaganda is the achievements done by this administration and the result as you have seen is the very high satisfactory and trust rating of the President. Survey after survey,” Panelo said.

Panelo said the Palace is also ready to face whatever libel charges journalists and media organizations may file against them.

Oh di sige (Go ahead). This is a democratic country nga eh, everyone has the right to sue. But whether or not that will prosper is another story. But we will not stop anybody from filing, that’s their right,” Panelo said. (PNA)