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‘Totally unncessary’ to prove alleged ouster plot against Duterte, Palace says

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By Prince Golez

Malacañang deems it “unnecessary” to present proof about the supposed involvement of news organizations in the alleged ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Those named in the matrix demand proof of their participation in the ouster plot. Such is totally unnecessary,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Wednesday.

Panelo earlier released a copy of a matrix identifying media organizations and several journalists behind an alleged plot to remove Duterte from office.

It claimed that veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas of Vera Files distributed materials from a certain Bikoy, who linked the Duterte family to illegal drugs, to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Rappler, and the National Union of People’s Lawyers.

“The matrix shows that there is an ouster plot. It is just a plot, a plan, an idea. The same is not actionable in court it being just a conspiracy. Conspiracy is not a crime unless the law specifically classifies a particular conspiracy to undertake a project or actualise a plan as a crime,” said Panelo.

Citing Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code, the chief presidential legal counsel explained that conspiracy and proposal to commit felony are “punishable only in the cases in which the law specially provides a penalty therefor.”

According to him, examples of conspiracies which are punishable under the Revised Penal Code are those conspiracies to commit treason, rebellion, insurrection, coup d’etat and sedition.

On one hand, examples of proposals to commit a crime which need no overt acts but punishable under the Revised Penal Code are proposals to commit treason, coup d’etat and rebellion.

“Only when all the elements of any of these crimes have been committed will we file a case against the conspirators. Should their plans lead to overt acts punishable by law then criminal cases will also be filed against them. It is only when the cases are filed in court that proof will be submitted to substantiate the criminal charges,” he added.

As to how Duterte obtained the matrix, Panelo said the information was based on intelligence information that came from a foreign country.

“It does not conclusively mean however that the information was originally obtained by the foreign country by an unlawful method that violates the privacy of an individual,” the Palace official said.

The anti-Duterte information, he added, may have been acquired by a Filipino citizen who shared the same to the foreign country which then transmitted to the President.

Panelo regarded as “erroneous” claims that the information was obtained through witetapping or ang similar device prohibited by law.

“It could have been personally heard or witnessed during a conversation between plotters in a place where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, which according to jurisprudence is not violative of our privacy laws. It could also have been heard by one of their colleagues who does not agree on the ouster plan, who then shared the information to another, who in turn also relayed the information from whom (the President) received it. The possibilities are endless,” he said.

Panelo stressed that the release of the alleged ouster plot is pursuant to the people’s right to information.

“The people deserve to know that there are ouster plans against the leadership of their government. Article 3, Section 7 of the Constitution categorically provides that, ‘the right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized’,” he said.

“It is therefore the constitutional duty of the Administration to report to our countrymen the presence of groups which are motivated to unseat their President whom they have given the mandate to govern.”

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