Palace says Paolo Duterte has a right to defend father amid backlash on 'Oust Duterte Movement' list

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 10) — Presidential son Paolo Duterte— who was criticized for publicly releasing a so-called "Oust Duterte Movement" list— was just exercising his freedom of expression, the presidential spokesperson said.

In a media briefing Monday, Salvador Panelo pushed back on claims of the younger Duterte's serious allegations, saying that the former Davao City Vice Mayor has the right to react to administration "threats" as the son of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"We are not privy to the list issued by the former vice mayor. The President always respects the freedom of expression," Panelo told reporters in Malacañang. "The Vice Mayor then may have some reason for issuing the list, we do not know."

"That is his right, and we cannot deprive this person from expressing his sentiment, especially since he is a son. All sons have the right to defend, to neutralize any attempt to discredit or to assault the integrity of a father," he added.

The presidential son on Friday posted on his Facebook account a list of various individuals— including politicians and journalists— as well as companies supposedly plotting an ouster of the country's chief executive.

The list included Vice President Leni Robredo, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Catholic officials and bishops, as well as Jollibee Food Corp., among others.

The Facebook post has since been deleted.

However, the Palace reiterated that no coup or conspiracy can take place due to the President's massive support from the police, military, and majority of the Filipinos.

Panelo said those in the list always have legal remedies available to them.

"They can always refute the allegations contained in the list. That is the beauty of democracy." Panelo said. "There will always be— as the saying goes— a free market for ideas and expression."

'Irresponsible allegations'

Robredo on Sunday meanwhile slammed the younger Duterte's allegations, calling them "fake news."

While the Vice President initially said the claim was "laughable," she noted spreading of unverified information was "irresponsible" coming from a former government official.

"Sinasabi doon na nag-uusap-usap kami ng mga nakalista doon para patalsikin sa puwesto ang ating Pangulo, nagde-destabilize. Tinitingnan ko iyong mga kasama kong pangalan doon, parang karamihan doon hindi ko kilala. Ang kilala ko lang doon si Jollibee," Robredo said in a statement.

[Translation: It was said that those on the list were having a meeting to oust our President from his post. I was looking at the list, and I don't know majority of them.]

"Napaka-irresponsible na mag-post ng isang bagay na una, wala namang basehan. Pangalawa, hindi ko alam kung alam niya kung saan iyon nanggaling, kasi obviously, iyong gumawa noon, hindi man lang nag-aksaya ng panahon para mag-research," Robredo said of the presidential son, who is running for Davao City's First District Representative in the 2019 midterm polls.

READ: President Duterte's 3 children running in 2019 elections

[Translation: It was very irresponsible that he would post such thing because first, there's no basis. Second, I don't know if he knows where the list came from because obviously, the one who created the list did not even do research.]

This is not the first time an "ouster plot" against the current administration was reported to be in the works. Earlier this year, a "Red October plot"— which was said to be headlined by opposition solons and communist groups— surfaced but no movement pushed through.