Panelo claims Duterte not capable of lying; retracts on source of ouster plot matrix
President Rodrigo Duterte is not capable of lying on "serious matters."
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after retracting his earlier statement that the matrix on the supposed ouster plot allegedly involving some groups and individuals, particularly from the media, came from the President himself.
"The President does not lie on anything; on serious matters especially it involves the work of the President. He’s a very honest man," Panelo said in a press briefing.
But there were instances in the past that Duterte himself admitted that he made those statements as jokes.
When he was campaigning for the presidency, Duterte said he would assert the Philippine claim over the South China Sea by riding in a jet ski and plant the Philippine flag there. When he won and decided to take a softer and friendlier stance with China, he said that going to the disputed waters by riding on a jet ski was just a joke.
Duterte, who repeatedly urged criminals to kill bishops and priests critical of him, said he was just joking after some members of the clergy claimed that they received death threats from unknown people after the President's statements.
During the press briefing Panelo was faced with questions on the veracity of the supposed matrix containing names of the organizations and people, including some journalists, who allegedly have links to certain "Bikoy" who came out with videos accusing some Duterte family members and allies of their involvement in illegal drugs.
Those individuals whom ''Bikoy'' accused of denied the allegations.
In a press briefing on April 22, Panelo said the source of the matrix that came out in the Manila Times and which story was written by Dante Ang, the publications' chairman emeritus and Duterte's special envoy for international public relations, came from the President himself.
But he was not aware how Ang was able to get hold of the copy of the matrix. Ang said his source, without naming names, was from the Office of the President.
"The source of that is from the Office of the President, from the President himself. I don’t know how he (Ang) got one. But it’s coming from the President. I talked to him (Duterte) the other day," Panelo said during a press briefing on April 22.
"You must remember that the President has so many sources, so he got this matrix from one of his sources. And I am not even surprised that there is such a plot. If you notice this has been going on, the pattern is clear - false news and then transferred to another and it circulates. So, I am not surprised at all," he then added.
But in the press briefing on Thursday, May 2, Panelo said he was only told by Duterte via a phone conversation about the ouster plot matrix and did not provide him a copy of the matrix itself.
"No, he (Duterte) did not give any. He's not the one who gave (it). Somebody just sent to me the matrix. Isn't it that I told you that someone sent to me a text? I showed it to you. It's on my phone. That was sent to me, somebody even asked, 'Sir, who sent it,' I don't know where," he said.
Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel, said he did not bother to ask who sent him the copy of the matrix. He claimed he did not know the owner of the number as it was not registered on his mobile phone.
"That matrix, I received it here (phone). And I personally assumed that that was the matrix mentioned by the President. And when I mentioned that in the news briefing, since he did not dispute that or corrected me, so it means it's the same matrix that he referred to me to touch upon in the news briefing," Panelo explained.
He even said that the matrix sent to him was a bit blurred, thus, he asked his staff to just compare and copied it from the matrix that came out in the Manila Times.
The individuals named in the supposed matrix, such as journalists Ellen Tordesillas of Vera Files, Malou Mangahas of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and Maria Ressa of Rappler have questioned the veracity of the supposed matrix and denied conspiracy to oust Duterte. Celerina Monte/DMS