Former senators dismiss Palace’s matrix as ‘all political’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 10) — For two former senators, Malacañang’s release of a matrix showing a supposed plot to discredit President Rodrigo Duterte is all political.

“If to oust is to mount a propaganda against a sitting president, then it’s all political talk. And during this political season, that comes with the territory,” former Senator Joey Lina told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Friday.

Lina says the Palace’s release of the supposed “Oust Duterte” matrix is a way of accusing the opposition as the brains behind the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos — which tagged Duterte’s family and close allies as being deep into the illegal drug trade — and to destroy their credibility and the accusations lodged in the video series.

But former Senator Rodolfo Biazon said the release of the matrix should not have been haphazard.

“You would have to study the impact of what you are revealing to the public related to national security,” said Biazon, who also served as Armed Forces chief during the presidency of the late Corazon "Cory" Aquino.

Biazon and Lina also said the alleged plot exposed is unbelievable.

“I have doubts. As a matter of fact, I am saying hindi dapat paniwalaan ngayon [it should not be believed now,]” Biazon said.

Lina added, “There is something in philosophy that says, ‘Wrong in one, wrong in all.’”

READ: 'Sayang ang intelligence funds': Lacson slams Duterte administration for ouster matrix release

Malacañang came under scrutiny after its release of yet another matrix detailing a supposed effort to kick Duterte out of his seat. This expanded matrix includes personalities from the opposition, journalists and sports stars, namely Olympic medalist Hidilyn Diaz and volleyball star-turned-TV host Gretchen Ho.

Diaz, an Air Force personnel, said she is too busy training to be involved in any ouster plot. Ho, who was invited to Malacañang for a dinner with Duterte the night before the release of the new matrix, also denied the allegations.

READ: Olympian Hidilyn Diaz fears for life after inclusion in oust-Duterte matrix

In a statement. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo clarified that Diaz and Ho were only included in the matrix to "visualize" the character, political and social interests of Rodel Jayme, the self-confessed webmaster of Metrobalita, where the links to the 'Ang Totoong Narcolist' videos were first posted.

Panelo said in a media briefing shortly after the release of his statement that he should not be the one to apologize to the two sports stars, but the media outfits which supposedly twisted the interpretation of the matrix.

Biazon said any attempt to unseat Duterte is unlikely, given the present circumstances.

“I do not think the conditions and situation in the country would lead to a movement similar to 1986 (People Power.) It does not lend to that possibility. And a coup d’etat, I think is very far,” he said.

Biazon pointed out that the Duterte administration doubled the salaries of uniformed personnel.

Duterte is also still enjoying high approval and trust ratings, according to private independent pollsters.

READ: 'Midterm polls a referendum on Duterte'

But if it is proven that there is a plan to stage a coup d’etat against Duterte, Lina said the government should press charges.

In a speech, Duterte said he is uninterested to file cases against those who released “black propaganda” against him.

Despite this statement by the President, Malacañang said that while it welcomes dissenters, authorities should enforce the law and prosecute them if they become “transgressors.”

The National Bureau of Investigation has slapped an inciting to sedition charge against Jayme.

Peter Joemel Advincula, the man who claims to be the hooded figure named “Bikoy” in the videos, is also facing a fresh estafa charge from a businesswoman following his surfacing.

READ: Sotto to those tagged in oust-Duterte matrix: Brush it off, don't be sensitive

Journalists tagged in the supposed plot to oust Duterte have said that this is the government’s attempt to muzzle the free press. They also expressed worry that their lives may now be in danger.