MANILA -- Malacañang on Sunday rejected Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano's call for President Rodrigo Duterte and his spokesperson to step down from office over a matrix tagging journalists and lawyers in an alleged destabilization plot.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo initially claimed that the "Oust Duterte" matrix came from the Chief Executive, but later admitted that it was from an unknown source.
Alejano, an opposition senatorial candidate, said the actions of Malacañang were "utterly irresponsible, adding that Duterte and Panelo should resign.
"Apart from saying that his challenged is arrant nonsense like all his other statements against the Administration, it is undeserving of a response," Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo on Thursday said he got a copy of the matrix via a text message from “somebody.”
“Wala siyang (Duterte) binigay. Hindi naman siya ang nagbigay basta may nagpadala sa akin ng matrix, di ba sabi ko sa inyo may nagpadala sa akin ng text,” he told reporters.
(President Duterte didn’t give anything. Someone sent me a matrix. I told you that someone sent me a text.)
“He (Duterte) asked me to discuss it in the briefing- 'yung matrix- and then somebody sent me a matrix. Eh di ‘yun ang nire-refer niyang matrix wala namang ibang matrix (that’s the same matrix, there is no other matrix),” he added.
The report on the controversial matrix linking lawyers, and journalists critical of the Duterte administration to an alleged ouster plot against the President was written by The Manila Times chairman and Duterte appointee Dante Ang.
According to the report, media practitioners allegedly plant fake news, “manipulate public emotion, touch base with the Leftist organization, enlist the support of the police and the military, then go for the ‘kill’.”
Among those tagged in the matrix were the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, and media organizations Vera Files, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and Rappler.
The Supreme Court granted Friday NUPL's request for protection against alleged threats and intimidation from state security forces.
The Philippine National Police, meanwhile, said it was investigating some media practitioners who are supposedly members of groups moving for Duterte's ouster.