Andanar: Alleged $1000 media bribe part of plot to oust Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Tuesday the supposed $1,000 bribe offered to reporters in exchange for covering a media briefing is part of a bigger plot to overthrow President Rodrigo Duterte.

Andanar's statement came a day after he told CNN Philippines he received an intelligence report that journalists who attended Monday's briefing with SPO3 Arthur Lascañas at the Senate would be given cash.

Read: Andanar alleges bribes of $1,000 offered to journalists; reporters slam claim

However, Andanar could not confirm if the bribe was given or if the reporters accepted any money.

Lascañas confessed to being a founder of the "Davao Death Squad." The group was tagged in extrajudicial killings supposedly under the orders of then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Read: 'Blind loyalty': Self-proclaimed DDS leader says he followed Duterte's orders to kill

"I was just pointing to the fact that there is this concerted effort para magkaroon ng massive protest sa EDSA ngayong February 25," Andanar said in a Malacañang press briefing. "It was not intended to say that the reporters at the Senate are corrupt. Hindi po sila corrupt. I hold them in high esteem."

[Translation: I was just pointing to the fact that there is this concerted effort for a massive protest in EDSA this February 25. It was not intended to say that the reporters at the Senate are corrupt. They are not corrupt. I hold them in high esteem.]

Andanar also said since the intelligence report did not mention any reporters receiving the alleged payoff, the Senate journalists were "good reporters" who "stuck to their journalistic integrity."

The Senate media blasted Andanar on Monday, even as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines encouraged journalists to sue him and called for him to resign.

"We encourage our colleagues present at the press conference, as well as the outfits they work for, to consult their counsel and take a legal action against Mr. Andanar for shamelessly besmirching their reputation, and in this age of tokhang, even putting their safety at risk," the statement said.

"Unless he can present credible proof to back up his claims, he should zip his mouth or better yet, step down for gross abuse of his office and ignorance of his responsibilities. His baseless accusations are mere distractions from the immediate issue on hand," the group added.

Heated exchange with reporter

As Andanar, a former TV5 anchor, was making efforts to make amends with the media, he got into heated exchange with Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Marlon Ramos over where he got the information on the alleged plot to overthrow Duterte.

Ramos pointed out that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon already downplayed previous ouster plots.

"Huwag mo kaming pagsabungin, Marlon," Andanar said during a media briefing. "Because again, you will write something and you'll say: 'Eto sabi ni Andanar.' Walang ganyanan."

[Translation: Do not pit us against each other, Marlon, because again, you will write something and you'll say: 'Andanar said this.' Don't do that.]

The two eventually patched things up after the briefing.