News chiefs Maria Ressa of Rappler and Ellen Tordesillas of Vera Files on Monday, April 22, slammed Malacañang after the release of a matrix linking them and other journalists to an alleged plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
Malacañang revealed that the“Oust-Duterte” matrix, which contained a web-like matrix implicating journalists and lawyers, was based on a questionable intelligence report received by Duterte. Supposedly, the Palace was going to reveal the information on Monday but The Manila Times already published the report.
According to Ressa, the report was “garbage.”
In a tweet, she said: “It’s embarrassing for supposed ‘intelligence’ using i2 analyst notebook software to make fantasies look plausible. Go back to the drawing board. I’ve worked with many good folks in PH intelligence. Sad to see them reduced to garbage. Yet another Palace ploy to harass journalists.”
She also denied receiving an e-mail from Vera Files’ Tordesillas like the report claimed, saying they haven’t talked in years.
“It’s bad when the government lies through its paid PR to manipulate its people. They should also get it through their heads that I do not run day-to-day editorial. It’s been years since Ellen and I have even emailed each other. Good God,” Ressa said.
Tordesillas also denied the allegations, saying they were “downright false.”
“It’s hilarious. But what I find disturbing is, if this is the kind of intelligence report that the president gets and bases his actions and policies on, the country is in big trouble,” she said.
Wrong on so many points
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), who was implicated in the matrix as well, said the report is “wrong on many points.” The news agency also said it never received any email from Tordesillas regarding the so-called narco list video of Bikoy — the anonymous witness in a viral video that linked Duterte’s family to illegal drugs.
“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,” PCIJ said.
It also called out The Manila Times and said its story “offers tacit admission that these ‘experts,’ apparently working with the Office of the President, had invaded the privacy of the emails and correspondence of journalists now being singled out.”
Meanwhile, Rappler said the report was an example of “how not to write an investigative report or even straight news.”
In a statement, the news site said: “The Manila Times under Dante Ang, appointed special envoy for international public relations by President Rodrigo Duterte, is the reason why journalism schools and newsrooms in the country should be actively educating the youth and communities on what truthful, responsible and ethical journalism is.”