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Stop the intimidation of independent media

One week has passed and Malacañang and the Manila Times have not come up with anything to back up their false report alleging that journalists, news organizations and a lawyers’ group were involved in an oust-Duterte plot.

VERA Files condemns the spread of falsehood by no less than the president through his spokesman, Salvador Panelo and special envoy for international public relations Dante A. Ang, Manila Times Chairman Emeritus, linking us to an alleged destabilization plot.

On April 22, Manila Times came out with a story entitled “OUST-DUTERTE PLOT BARED” complete with a matrix alleging that VERA Files President Ellen Tordesillas acted “as the nexus and distributor” of the “Bikoy” video which narrated the alleged involvement of the president’s family members in the illegal drug trade.

Alongside Ang’s story was an opinion piece by columnist Rigoberto D. Tiglao on the same subject.

Ang said his information came from “a highly placed source in the Office of the President.”

That same day, Panelo in his press briefing said the source of the Manila Times story was “the President himself.”

Asked by a reporter for more details about the so-called intelligence report, Panelo said, “Galing kay presidente kaya paniwalaan ninyo.”

The whole story is completely false. Even worse, Duterte, Panelo and Ang didn’t even bother to verify the information in the so-called matrix. Luz Rimban and Jennifer Santiago are no longer with VERA Files. Rimban resigned in 2018 and Santiago in January 2019. Female trustees were identified as male.

If there is any orchestration being done, it is by Malacañang and Manila Times to intimidate media who are holding Duterte accountable for his questionable decisions and actions.

The matrix story would have been laughable if it was not deliberately manufactured to muddle the mind of the public with lies and endanger the lives of the persons named in that diagram.

That it came from the highest official of the land who took his oath to preserve and defend the Constitution and “do justice to every man” is most disturbing and must not be tolerated.

The law provides relief for those whose rights have been violated and we are keeping our options open.

VERA Files Board of Trustees:

Joel Butuyan

Booma Cruz

Chi Liquicia

Rosal Revaldo

Ellen Tordesillas