NUPL to pursue legal action over inclusion in supposed ouster 'matrix'
In this photo, presidential spokesperon Salvador Panelo holds up supposed proof of journalists and pro bono lawyers conspiring against President Rodrigo Duterte.
The STAR/Alexis Romero
NUPL to pursue legal action over inclusion in supposed ouster 'matrix'
(Philstar.com) - May 7, 2019 - 9:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — The National Union of People's Lawyers, whose members were included in a diagram of journalists and lawyers allegedly involved in a plot to oust the president, will file charges over the allegation.

Speaking at a forum at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, NUPL secretary general Ephraim Cortez said the group will not file libel cases because these curtail the freedom of expression, but that charges "will definitely" be filed against government officials involved. He said complaints will also be filed over a newspaper report "exposing" the supposed plot.

Cortez raised that the Philippine National Police had announced an investigation into the supposed plot even before checking whether the "matrix" had basis.

"If evidence so warrants there can always be cases filed against them," Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, PNP chief, said on April 23 as he announced the national police would conduct the investigation on its own initiative.

NUPL had previously raised the "matrix" issue before the Supreme Court, saying it bolstered its petition for a protection order against alleged government harassment.

"These malicious statements and dangerous claims, as well as the contrived ‘matrix’ above, baseless and reckless as they are, compel the Petitioners to again seek at this time for the Honorable Court’s protection and reiterate their prayer for a temporary protection order," it said in its manifestation on April 25.

The Supreme Court announced last Friday that it had issued a writ of amparo and habeas data in favor of NUPL.

The SC also directed the Court of Appeals to hear NUPL's petition on May 14 and "decide the case within 10 days after submission of the case for the decision." The court also ordered the government to comment on the petition before May 14.

RELATED: Palace: ‘Totally unnecessary’ to prove ‘oust-Duterte matrix’

Tordesillas: There is no 'Oust Duterte' movement

At the same forum, journalist Ellen Tordesillas—also named in the diagram from the Office of the President—said the "matrix" is meant to tarnish the image of journalists.

"We are journalists. We should know if there’s an ‘Oust Duterte’ movement going on. There’s none. How can you start you start ousting somebody who has 80% popularity?" Tordesillas said, referring to a recent Social Weather Stations poll that found 79% of Filipinos are satisfied with the performance of the chief executive.

She added: "He controls the House, he controls the judiciary and he’s about to control the Senate. The only institution he’s not controlling is media. Maybe that’s the reason why he has this ‘Oust Duterte’ plot."

Tordesillas also questioned the credibility of the diagram, which was first released last month in an exclusive banner story of Manila Times. The Palace confirmed the diagram in a press briefing the same day that the Manila Times story was released.

“How can it even be credible? It’s all made up of journalists. It has no military component. How can you oust somebody without a military component? How are you going to oust Duterte? With our ballpen?” Tordesillas, president of news organization VERA Files, said.

"Why do they have to concoct this ‘Oust Duterte’ plot? They want to destroy the media. Why do they want to destroy the media? Because that’s the only institution left who is standing up to Duterte," she added.

VERA Files called out the Palace and the Manila Times last week, saying they had yet to come up with anything to substantiate their claim of a conspiracy.

READNo proof of ouster plot a week after 'expose,' VERA Files points out

The diagram alleged that the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, VERA Files, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and Rappler are plotting against Duterte and are linked to an anonymously posted video alleging the Dutertes are involved in illegal drugs.

The Manila Times report was based on a quote by an unnamed “highly placed source” in the Office of the President, who was not quoted explaining or substantiating the claim. It reported that “two other independent sources” confirmed the existence of an “active plot.”

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo admitted Thursday that he was sent the "matrix" through an unknown number. He said he did not bother to check who had sent it to him since he was sure that it was someone from the Office of the President. 

Last April 22, Panelo, who struggled to explain the diagram to Palace reporters, said the “source is the Office of the President. It’s from the president himself.”

‘Bikoy’

Tordesillas said it is a good thing that Peter Joemel Advincula—the man who claims to be the “Bikoy” in the anonymous videos—surfaced Monday.

In a press briefing at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines office, Advincula said he does not have any connection with the media personalities and organizations included in the matrix.

“I hope siya ‘yung totoong ‘Bikoy.’ Mukhang totoo naman di ba. I’m happy ‘Bikoy’ said he did not have any contact, he did not know any of the journalists and groups named in the matrix,” Tordesillas said. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

BIKOY OUSTER MATRIX VERA FILES
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