By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora May 3, 2019, 10:02 pm
MANILA— Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Friday denied he backtracked on his tune about the source of a matrix on the supposed ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I never mentioned that the matrix was handed to me in person by the President during the press briefing on April 22. And that is only what I affirmatively confirmed during the press briefing yesterday, May 2. I did not backtrack or flip-flop,” he said.
“Let us be clear on this once and for all: The source of the matrix is the President, who called me with the instruction to touch and discuss it during the press briefing on April 22,” he noted.
He admitted that a matrix was thereafter forwarded to his phone from an unknown number. But the fact that the President did not correct what was released “only means that it was the matrix being referred to by the President,” he said.
In his statement, Panelo believes there is a “desperate move to taint the legitimacy of the subject matrix.”
“We will let them be. As for us, it is our duty to inform the public, for they have the right to know, that there are plans to overthrow the President and that we will protect him and this Administration to make good our vow to the electorate of delivering genuine and meaningful change to the citizenry,” he said.
Panelo also dismissed claims that the matrix is meant to stifle media freedom in the Philippines.
“The remarks of Mses. Maria Ressa, Ellen Tordesillas and Inday Espina-Varona, journalists-members of the so-called Matrix Club, lambasting the Duterte Administration on World Press Freedom Day simply underscore that press freedom and freedom of expression are very much alive in the Philippines,” he said.
The media practitioners were among those named in the matrix on the supposed ouster plot against the chief executive.
“They are the walking testimonials of how robust the exercise of the freedom of speech in this country,” Panelo said, referring to the veteran journalists.
“As we have said, the dissent against the government is the loudest and freest under this Administration despite it comprising only a minority. We recognize this in publications as well as in the feeds of our social media accounts,” he said.
On the other hand, he reiterated that membership to the press is no license to violate the country’s laws. (PNA)