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Activist groups mull charges over matrix

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ACTIVIST groups National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and Bayan Muna, also a party-list group, said they are considering filing charges against “those…responsible” behind a so-called matrix released by Malacañang that linked some members of these groups to an alleged destabilization plot against President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“It is an option on our part na magsampa ng karampatang (to file) legal cases for those who are responsible on this latest script, [which] is absurd, hilarious, kung hindi siya may (if it does not have a) direct threat sa life and safety na nakalista sa bagong (to the life and safety of those listed). President Duterte is intolerant of dissent. Ang second problem diyan, diyos niya ang (Second problem here is he worships) intelligence reports. We are run by a president who is obsessed with intelligence reports,” senatorial candidate Neri J. Colmenares, both of Bayan Muna and the NUPL which he heads, said in a press conference Tuesday.

NUPL Secretary-General Ephraim Cortez said for his part: “‘Yung mga cases independent of the petition for writ of amparo, ‘yun ‘yung kailangan pang pag-usapan. Kasi kailangan mapag-usapan mabuti ‘yung legal theory at ‘yung case buildup. (These cases are independent of the petition for writ of amparo. This has to be discussed well. The legal theory and the case buildup has to be studied carefully).”

Mr. Colmenares said cases can be filed against those behind the matrix, which he noted came from a foreign intelligence report. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo himself acknowledged this, attributing the information to Mr. Duterte.

‘TREASONOUS ACT’
Maraming pwedeng violation diyan. Tapos ngayon kakampihan mo pa ‘yung foreign intelligence body na ‘yon over your people? (There are many possible violations committed. And now you will side with the foreign intelligence body over your people?) That’s really at the very most a treasonous act on the part of the President,” Mr. Colmenares said.

He added that the surveillance conducted could have violated the Anti-Wiretapping Law, Data Protection Act, and the Revised Penal Code on the registration of foreign agencies in the country, among others.




The Palace released the matrix on Monday, when the Manila Times also came out with its banner story on this. The matrix linked members of NUPL and of media organizations Rappler, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and Vera Files to the ouster plot.

Mr. Colmenares also challenged Malacañang to release evidence behind the matrix. “Ilabas niyo in public anong ebidensya…Pangalawa, sabihin niyo kung sinong foreign intelligence body ang nagbigay sa inyo niyan. At wala bang na-violate ‘yung foreign intelligence body na batas natin na nag-su-surveillance siya ng human rights lawyers at nag-su-surveillance siya ng mga media personalities?”

(Release the evidence to the public…Secondly, reveal the foreign intelligence body which gave you that. Did the foreign intelligence body not violate a law in the country as it conducted surveillance on human rights lawyers and media personalities?)

Mr. Cortez said NUPL will file a supplemental motion today, before the Supreme Court, regarding its April 15 petition for writ of amparo and habeas data seeking to prohibit state agents from threatening, surveillance, and “red-tagging” its members.