By Daniel Llanto

After casting his vote in Davao City on Election Day, President Duterte said there really is an existing ouster plot against him that they established on the basis of wiretapped conversations among the involved parties.

Duterte was however quick to admit that wiretapping is illegal in the Philippines and cannot be used in court as evidence.

“Who did the wiretapping? I really do not know. It was already the finished product,” Duterte said of the diagram of personalities supposedly plotting against him earlier revealed by Malacañang officials.

“The matrix is true, also that on ‘Bikoy,’” Duterte told reporters. He was referring to the “spectral analysis” of Bikoy’s voice in a series of videos accusing members of the Duterte family with links to illegal drugs.

But the President would rather have Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo reply to reporters’ questions. Duterte did not cite evidence to substantiate a conspiracy.

On May 8, Panelo presented yet another diagram of personalities said to be working together in “a deliberate attempt to discredit this administration.” It was an expanded diagram of a matrix that was presented late April.

Panelo, who is also the presidential chief legal counsel, said at a press briefing that the source of the matrix involving pro bono lawyers and three news organizations — Vera Files, Rappler and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism — is the “Office of the President. It’s from the President himself.”

Duterte also left it to the media and the public to interpret the diagram but he stressed that the lines in the matrix, some of which were labelled with the word ‘link’, are “not really (solid) line connections.”

He said, “there are a lot of communications there that were recorded,” again hinting at wiretapped conversations.

Wiretapping is illegal in the Philippines. Under Republic Act 4200, or the Anti-Wiretapping Law, it is unlawful for any person to record a private communication or spoken word without the permission of parties involved or unless allowed by the court.

This was not the first time Duterte hinted at having recorded conversations of people plotting against him. In September 2018, he claimed to have records showing a conspiracy among the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Liberal Party, and the pro-military and anti-communist Magdalo Group.

Earlier that year, Duterte threatened to release a transcript of a wiretapped phone conversation involving Loida Nicolas-Lewis — whom he mistakenly referred to as “Loida Reyes” — regarding the International Criminal Court’s preliminary examination into the government’s bloody war on drugs.

He did not release the supposed transcript but Malacañang said Lewis is capable of conspiring with the Hague-based court to indict Duterte for crimes against humanity because “she is rich.”

Panelo also earlier said foreign countries sometimes share information, including taped conversations, for intelligence gathering.

In his Davao City interview, Duterte also called veteran journalist and Vera Files President Ellen Tordesillas a “prostitute.” Tordesillas is one of the journalists tagged in the alleged ouster scheme. She denied the accusation of her links to an “imagined” destabilization plot.

The veteran journalist dismissed Duterte’s latest tirade against her as the firebrand leader resorting to vulgar words due to lack of evidence to prove the supposed ouster plot.

“Since Duterte does not have evidence to support his silly matrix, he is now resorting to vulgarity—the only language he knows,” she said in a statement.