MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo won't apologize to television personality Gretchen Ho and Olympian weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz for their inclusion in a diagram he said showed a "conspiracy" against President Rodrigo Duterte.
"No, I think those who should apologize are those who wrongly analyzed," he said on Friday, May 10, in Malacañang.
Panelo said it's the fault of media outlets – and Ho and Diaz themselves – for supposedly assuming that the names of the two were in the diagrams because they were involved in the plot to discredit Duterte and boost Otso Diretso candidates.
"In sum, there has been a wrong analysis of the diagram by some media outfits which in turn made the basis of a wrong analysis and conclusions by readers and personalities including Misses Ho and Diaz," said Panelo.
They were only mentioned in the diagrams, he said, to show MetroBalita webmaster Rodel Jayme's Facebook activities and who he was following.
"The diagram contained in the slide includes other accounts Mr Jayme is actively following, to visualize his character, as well as his political and social interests. It is in this context that the names of Misses Ho and Diaz appeared," said Panelo.
He said he was clarifying things because media "got the analysis wrong."
But when asked who in the diagrams Malacañang is accusing of direct involvement in a conspiracy against Duterte, Panelo said, "The people in the diagram."
Confused media pointed out that Ho and Diaz are in the diagrams. Panelo then clarified that only "major players" like the Liberal Party and Magdalo are considered part of the conspiracy.
Panelo never mentioned Ho's or Diaz's names in his press conference on Wednesday, May 8, when he presented the diagrams to the public.
However, Panelo did not make any distinctions among the names in the diagram. He had merely lumped all the diagrams together as diagrams supposedly showing a concerted effort by individuals and groups to discredit Duterte.
Panelo admitted he had seen the diagrams only minutes before the press conference.
The spokesman also took two days to reply to reporters' questions on why Ho and Diaz were in the diagrams, as the two had denied any involvement in the "Bikoy" videos.
He only issued his clarification on Friday, two days after it was discovered that Ho and Diaz were in the presentation. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.