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Palace claims LP, Magdalo, media outlets plotting to discredit Duterte

Malacañang on Wednesday bared an alleged plot by the former ruling Liberal Party, administration critics, the Magdalo party-list and some media outlets to discredit President Rodrigo Duterte.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte got hold of validated intelligence information on a “deliberate conspiracy” to discredit the administration and boost the candidacy of opposition senatorial bets in the May 13 midterm elections.

Panelo, who presented to the media a matrix showing a supposed conspiracy against the President, said the LP advocates are active on social media “dishing out” anti-Duterte statements.

He added intelligence information showed that some of them are using the same office.

The Palace spokesman claimed of a “very active online collaboration” between VERA Files president Ellen Tordesillas, Aquino administration spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, Cocoy Dayao, Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Rodel Jayme, Bong Banal, Arman Pontejos, and other LP groups and supporters.

Jayme is the creator of the Metro Balita website that was allegedly used to share the videos that tagged members of the First Family in the illegal drug trade. He is now facing charges for inciting to sedition before a Parañaque court.

According to Panelo, Jayme was found to have constant “online collaboration” with other LP supporters particularly journalist Inday Espina-Varona, Gara Trillanes, and Otso Diretso senatorial candidates Gary Alejano and Florin Hilbay.

The other groups named in the matrix were Netizens against Dictatorship, Federalism and Communism, Kinabukasan Mo, Ipaglaban Mo, Gising na Pinoy, Task Force of Democracy Human Rights, Democratic Warriors, Democratic Warriors International, No Way, Never, Binay! Sen. Trillanes Power, Sen. Antonio Trillanes Supporters Group, Trillanes FB Group, Silent Majority and Tindig Pilipinas.

The Palace also accused Jerry Mae Maghinay, the registered owner of Now You Know website, of uploading videos of dismissed police official Eduardo Acierto on March 25, April 7 and May 5, 2019.

Acierto recently grabbed headlines when he claimed that Michael Yang, a former presidential adviser, was involved in the illegal drug trade. Duterte has since vouched for Yang’s innocence.

Panelo said they are leaving it up to the Department of Justice to decide whether to press criminal charges against the people and groups mentioned in the matrix, which the Palace spokesman got from the Office of the President.

"Well, hopefully by revealing it to the public we are preempting their move. We want to let the public know that their intention is not only to discredit this administration leading to its ouster [but also] to boost the candidacies of the senatorial candidates," he said.

Panelo also denied that the government is cracking down on free speech.

"This government cannot crackdown on those who are practicing their freedom of expression and of speech, definitely," he said.

Both the Liberal Party and the Magdalo party-list have denied Panelo’s allegations.

In a statement, opposition senatorial bet and Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano denied that he had a hand in producing the viral video and questioned the credibility of the Palace in releasing a matrix anew.

Malacañang earlier backed the Manila Times report on the supposed destabilization plot anchored on online videos alleging the involvement of the President’s family and his close associates in illegal drugs.

Named in the matrix were personalities from Vera Files, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, Rappler, and lawmakers Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate.

The PCIJ, VERA Files, Rappler, and the NUPL all strongly denied the alleged conspiracy to oust Duterte.

On Monday, Peter Joemel Advincula, who claimed to be “Bikoy” who appeared in video series "Ang Totoong Narcolist," accused Duterte's son Paolo, former aide Christopher "Bong" Go, and several others of involvement in the narcotics trade.

Earlier in the day, Senate President Vicente Sotto III disclosed that even before coming out as "Bikoy," Advincula in 2016 had already linked former President Benigno Aquino III, former executive secretary Paquito Ochoa, former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, and Senator Leila de Lima to illegal drugs.

Sotto refused to believe Advincula's allegations, prompting Senator Panfilo Lacson to cancel an inquiry scheduled for Friday. — MDM/RSJ, GMA News