MANILA - Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Tuesday said a document released by Malacanang linking journalists to a purported plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte could be a "diversionary tactic" meant to sow fear.
The "matrix" includes the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Vera Files, Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa, who is facing a raft of charges.
"Siguro ang mensahe pagka kayo ay manatiling kritiko mangyayari sa inyo yung nangyayari siguro kay Maria Ressa," Pangilinan told ANC's Headstart.
(Maybe the message they are trying to pass here is if they remain critical of the administration they could suffer the same fate as Maria Ressa.)
Dapat dito manindigan din ang Rappler and ang Vera Files at PCIJ and mukha namang ganun ang ginagawa nila," Pangilinan said on ANC's Headstart on Tuesday.
(Rappler, Vera Files and PCIJ should take a stand, and that seems to be what they are doing now.)
Pangilinan said he was surprised that the Liberal Party was not included in the list.
"Si Presidente na rin ang nagsabi a couple of years ago na sa lima na sinasabi niya, tatlo hindi totoo. Palagay ko isa na ito doon. Mukhang gawa-gawa lang," he said.
(A couple of years ago, the President have said that out of the five things he says, three are not true. I think this is one of those.)
Pangilinan said there have been many occasions in the past where Malacanang would bring up the ouster plot against the President or make up a story when an issue is brought up against the administration.
In September last year, the President urged the public to watch out for his critics' supposed move to oust him, which he said will "go into a high gear" in October.
At that time, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV was pressing Duterte on his alleged secret bank accounts.
Pangilinan, campaign manager for the opposition senatorial slate Otso Diretso, urged voters to not fall for made up stories and instead focus on candidates' track record and important issues.
With 20 days before the elections, Pangilinan said he hoped Otso Diretso's message would resonate with the electorate.