Still no Malacañang apology for Hidilyn Diaz's inclusion in 2019 'ouster matrix'

After profusely congratulating Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, Malacañang refused to apologize for an "ouster plot matrix" the office released in 2019 that appeared to include the athlete in supposed plot to unseat President Rodrigo Duterte.

That diagram, made public in May 2019, had caused Diaz mental anguish, as she feared for her life and her family's since people in previously-released lists and matrices were targeted by government or even ended up dead.

Asked if Malacañang would now apologize to Diaz for the gaffe, Roque distanced himself from the controversial diagrams.

"Wala po ano. As spokesperson, wala po akong kahit anong binintang kay Hidilyn Diaz," said Roque on Tuesday, July 27, in a press briefing.

(Nothing to say. As spokesperson, I had made no accusation against Hidilyn Diaz.)

He again sang praises for Diaz.

"If we can learn something from Hidilyn's victory, it's that one can dream, one can persevere, and one can win," said Roque.

Roque was not Duterte's spokesman when the Palace released the diagrams as he had resigned to run in the 2019 national elections. But, he now again represents the office that did.

Panelo refuses to budge

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, the Palace spokesman at the time, also refused to apologize to Diaz. He earlier also congratulated the bemedalled athlete.

He insisted that Diaz "was not included" in the matrix he displayed on live television from inside Malacañang's press briefing room.

He referred Rappler to his 2019 statement where he blamed the media for "putting a spin" on the diagrams he showed. Panelo had then claimed he never specifically identified Diaz or another athlete Gretchen Ho as part of the ouster plot, only that they appeared in the network of the alleged mastermind of the plot.

But when asked by reporters back then who in the diagrams the Palace accused of direct involvement in a conspiracy against Duterte, Panelo said, "The people in the diagram."

Confused media pointed out that Ho and Diaz were in the diagrams. Panelo then clarified that only "major players" like the Liberal Party and Magdalo were considered part of the conspiracy.

 Panelo also 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 where he had bared them to the public. But he insisted that they were from credible intelligence sources, a claim still unproven.

The justice department even said the diagram alone was insufficient basis for an investigation. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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