PNP probes people in coup plot matrix

Oscar  Albayalde

POLICE are investigating the personalities mentioned in the matrix of people believed to be involved in a conspiracy to destabilize the Duterte administration and will file charges against them if evidence warrants, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said yesterday.

Those being probed include lawyers and journalists named in the matrix released by Malacañang. The accused, including Rappler’s Maria Ressa and Vera Files and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism official Ellen Tordesillas laughed off the accusations against them.

The PCIJ dismissed the matrix’ reliability claiming it is “wrong on many points” while Ressa claimed they were all ‘lies to manipulate the people.’

However, Gen. Albayalde said that the PNP will always go by the evidence.

“If evidence warrants, they can always be sued and have cases filed against them. But we always go for evidence, the so-called substantial evidence that will stand in court,” Gen. Albayalde said.

The PNP chief maintained that the ongoing investigation is a PNP initiative although he denied ordering a surveillance of those in the matrix.

PNP spokesman Colonel Bernard M. Banac said that the PNP will gather information and monitor anybody who may be involved in any plot to undermine the government.

Banac said that police are always mandated to investigate illegal activities and file necessary charges if evidence warrants. He added that “the PNP is a professional organization which is committed to protecting the duly-constituted authorities and will ensure that all those who are trying to undermine the government will be made answerable for their actions.”

Gen. Albayalde earlier said they are not discounting the possibility of a destabilization plot against President Duterte citing the series of anti-government videos released by an alias ‘Bikoy.’

Speaking before Camp Crame newsmen, the PNP chief said that while there is no evidence of a destabilization plot “as of this time,” the fact that the President and his family and closest friends have been linked to a drug syndicate could be part of the effort to undermine the present government.

“There’s a possibility. We are not discounting the fact that there’s a destabilization plot kasi nakatutok sa President,” the PNP chief said.

According to Gen. Albayalde, the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group is yet to establish the real identity of ‘Bikoy’ and those behind the videos since the uploader was believed to be using a false account.

“But of course, I am sure, hindi lang si ‘Bikoy’ ito. Meron talagang gumagawa kasi scripted yung sinasabi niya,” he said.

There were reports that the real ‘Bikoy’ could be a radio broadcaster from Northern Luzon who was hired to speak negatively of the President without showing his actual face.

The PNP chief maintained he is certain that those creating the videos were receiving financial support from someone. “Scripted lahat sinasabi ni Bikoy and I am sure me financier yan,” he said.