'For the nth time,' alleged plotters dispute Malacañang's 'matrix'

'For the nth time,' alleged plotters dispute Malacañang's 'matrix'
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo shows diagram of groups and people involved in the alleged plot to discredit the administration.
The STAR / Alexis Romero

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:21 p.m.)  — The latest allegation floated days before the midterm elections accusing opposition groups and media outfits of allegedly conniving to discredit President Rodrigo Duterte is just the latest in unfounded conspiracy theories, those accused as plotters said Wednesday.

Citing supposed intelligence information that he provided little proof of, Panelo said the Liberal Party, the Magdalo party-list and media companies are seeking to "discredit the administration and to boost the candidacy of the opposition."

“This is the nth time that the administration, when confronted with controversy, falsely accuses the LP of being involved in ouster plots. Gawa-gawa lang 'yan,” Sen. Francis Pangilinan, LP president and Otso Diretso campaign manager, said in a message to reporters.

"Ang hindi gawa-gawa na dapat nilang ipaliwanag ay bakit walang nahuhuli na mga drug lord o pinaparusahan na opisyal ng Customs sa paulit-ulit na pagpuslit ng toneladang shabu sa [Bureau of Customs]. Yan ang dapat nilang aksyunan," he also said.

(What isn't made up and what they should explain is why no drug lords have been arrested and why no Customs officials have been held to acocunt for the repeated entry of tons of shabu through the BoC. That's what they should take action on.)

Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo party-list), a candidate for senator and whom the Palace alleges is involved in the ouster plot, said in a statement that he "categorically states" that he has no involvement in the "Bikoy" videos" nor did he conspire with anyone to produce them.

"I do not know Bikoy and have not met him ever," he said.

Alejano added that "Malacañang has a long history of of releasing unvalidated information to the public" and that they "backtrack or change tune in the middle of the issue."

He said: "Their allegations are clearly false, malicious and irresponsible."

He said the new "matrix", which the Palace says shows a conspiracy to discredit the administration and boost the LP-led Otso Diretso slate's chances in next week's elections, "is meant to destroy the image of the opposition before the electorate as what the president has been doing in campaign sorties."

He claimed the government does not need anyone to discredit it since "they are the ones who are destroying themselves."

Magdalo, Joma Sison in same 'matrix'

Among those named in Malacañang's "matrix" are Rep. Gary Alejano (Magadalo party-list), former presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, and Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison.

Trillanes and Alejano, both former military officers, are outspokenly anti-communist. In 2017, Trillanes called on Duterte to remove leftist officials whom he described as "communist leaders in his Cabinet." 

Trillanes said then, without proof, that New People's Army cadres had infiltrated government agencies under those officials. "Moreover, these communists are using the resources from these government offices to stockpile arms and ammunition, which they would use later on against our soldiers," the senator also said in July 2017. 

The Palace rejected Trillanes' call, saying the Cabinet officials still enjoyed the president's trust. 

On Wendesday, Trillanes said that Duterte himself—not the groups or personalities the Palace is implicating in the supposed plot—is the one discrediting the government through his policies and pronouncements.

“Si Duterte ang nagpapatay ng libu-libong Pilipino, may bilyun-bilyong pisong tagong yaman, gumigiba sa mga democractic institutions, minumura ang Diyos, at nag-iimbento ng mga akusasyon sa mga kritiko niya, tapos kami ang nagdi-discredit [sa government]?” he said in a statement.

(Duterte ordered the killing of thousands of Filipinos, has multi-billion pesos worth of hidden wealth, destroys democratic institutions, curses God and invents allegations against his critics, and now we are the ones discrediting [the government]?)

Lacierda listed as 'active liker'

In an interview on CNN Philippines, Lacierda called the new “matrix” stupid and denied his involvement in the supposed ouster plot.

“This is just foolishness… When you’re asked to produce evidence, they have nothing to produce,” Lacierda said.

In a statement released later Wednesday, Lacierda called the new diagram a "grade school matrix" as he denied his involvement in the supposed ouster plot.

"This government seemed to have discovered a new technology called The Grade School Matrix as this is the third time this government employed a matrix to refute charges against them," he said.

Lacierda said his name was included because he is an “active liker” of Alejano’s posts. “If that is true, this government has abandoned its sanity.”

'Imagined' destablization effort

VERA Files president Ellen Tordesillas, also tagged in a previous "matrix", called Panelo's presentation an “imagined” destabilization effort.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which was included in the Palace's diagram, called the allegation "a piece of unadulterated crap."

"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 [Rodel] Jayme might have undergone or be made to undergo to underpin this fallacy," NUJP said, referring to the webpage administrator of metrobalita, whom the government has indicted for inciting to sedition.

"We stress again this government’s criminal endangerment of people it accuses of serious offenses without an iota of evidence," it also said.

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