Tue, Apr 23, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Manila warns journalists plotting to ‘destroy’ Duterte

AFP, MANILA

The Philippine government yesterday warned the press against plotting to “destroy” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s government, as his spokesman accused journalists of spreading fake news.

The warning followed recent news reports alleging the Duterte family’s involvement in illegal drugs and raising questions about a large increase in his wealth.

“They are all there doing their thing, trying to destroy this government by spreading false news and planting intrigues against the government,” Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo told a news conference.

He released a graphic that he said showed how a video of a hooded man alleging the Duterte family’s role in the narcotics trade was shared by one journalist to colleagues employed by other Philippine news outfits.

The news organizations named have all reported extensively on Duterte’s crackdown against illegal drugs that has left more than 5,000 suspects dead at the hands of the police in what rights groups have said may be a crime against humanity.

Panelo said the ouster allegations were based on information shared by a foreign intelligence agency, which he would not name.

“In other words, what these people are doing is to give succor or assist the enemy, if they are not the enemy themselves,” Panelo said.

Duterte last week publicly lashed out at the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), which published a report about the rise in the president’s net worth.

“In the coming weeks, I will return the favor. So Philippine Investigative, you better stop,” Duterte said.

Panelo said the Duterte government was putting these journalists and news outfits on notice, but would not pursue legal action against them “for now.”

“But if the plot thickens and they perform acts which are already violation[s] of the penal laws, that’s a different story,” he added.

He named Maria Ressa, chief executive of the online news site Rappler — who faces charges of tax evasion, securities fraud; Rappler itself, the PCIJ, and Vera Files, among others, in the list of organisations allegedly plotting against Duterte.

The PCIJ has said its reports were all based on documents issued by Duterte himself in his required annual filings on assets and liabilities.

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