By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

THE government will not crack down on media organizations and journalists identified in a “matrix” released by Malacañang as being among those plotting President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s ouster.

“The source of that is from the Office of the President. From the President himself,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in part, regarding Monday’s report by the Manila Times about the said ouster plot.

“We just want them to know that we know. And we want the people to know they are on this,” he added.

“Hahayaan lang namin sila (Let them be). If the plot thickens and they perform acts which are already in violation of the penal laws then that’s a different story.”

“If there is an ouster plan, then people should know about it. People have the right to know what’s happening in this government and that includes people who want to destroy this government. It is our constitutional duty to inform the public of what is happening.”

In response, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) said in a statement, “The Manila Times’s ‘association matrix’ and story about a supposed ‘oust-Duterte plot’ that include journalists with the PCIJ are wrong on many points.”

“PCIJ had absolutely not nor ever received any email from Ms. Ellen Tordesillas on the link to the so-called ‘narcolist video’ of ‘Bikoy.’ PCIJ has neither posted nor distributed any stories or commentaries on the ‘narcolist video’ of ‘Bikoy.’ The video was posted on YouTube from where the news media and citizens got to watch it. That is where the so-called ‘cybercrime experts’ of the unnamed ‘highly placed source in the Office of the President’ should look instead.” the group added.

For its part, the NUPL said in its statement the matrix is “putrid rubbish.”

“This has certainly gone over the walls of credulity. It is absolutely false, totally baseless and completely ludicrous.”

“It is not only a bait to engage in absurd and endless tit for tat to distract us. And it would have been amusing were it not perilous to the safety, security, and liberty, if not the lives, of each of the 500 or so lawyers, law students, law professors, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, government lawyers, and paralegals who are members of the NUPL in more than 20 chapters nationwide.” — with Vann Mario M. Villegas