Panelo denies tagging Hidilyn Diaz in ouster plot, drug list

Published July 27, 2021, 10:20 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo has nothing but praises for Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (File photo: Malacañang/Manila Bulletin)

Panelo said Diaz brought pride to the country after winning the country’s first ever Olympic gold as he dispelled allegations that he had tagged her in the supposed plot to oust President Duterte and in an alleged drug list.

In May 2019, Panelo, then spokesman of President Duterte, released an alleged matrix of personalties allegedly conspiring to overthrow the President. The name of Diaz was included in the Palace diagram presented by Panelo in a Palace press conference. Diaz has strongly denied involvement in any plot seeking to unseat the President.

In a statement Tuesday, July 27, Panelo belied anew allegations that he linked Diaz to the anti-Duterte plot. The Palace official shifted blame on the media entities for allegedly erroneously assuming the athlete was among the suspected destabilizers.

“In fact, when reporters noted the name of Ms. Diaz in the matrix two years ago and hastily concluded that the government is declaring her to be part of an ouster plot against the President, I immediately issued a statement averring otherwise,” Panelo said.

“In that statement, I explained that the name of Ms. Diaz was shown in the diagram as she was being followed in social media by a certain Rodel Jayme who was connected to the uploading of the video titled, ‘Ang Totoong Narco List’, with the sole purpose of revealing to the public the interests, personality and disposition of the latter online,” he added.

Panelo likewise branded as fake news a social media card alleging Diaz belonged in the government’s drug list.

“This representation slams this material, which is being circulated in social media channels and group chats, as fake news. I never said that Ms. Diaz is not entitled to drugs just because she is a sports medalist. Neither did I aver that she was part of a drug list,” he said.

Panelo, who has congratulated Diaz on her Olympic triumph, is dismayed that some “selfish” people were allegedly politicizing the latest victory of the Filipino athlete.

“It is truly disheartening that there are people who seek to take the limelight out of Ms. Diaz’s recent triumph and convert it into a political skirmish of who should and should not celebrate our country’s win,” he said.

“As for me, I can only admire Ms. Diaz and sincerely congratulate her who, together with our other athletes in Tokyo, continues to make us proud,” he added.

Diaz ended the country’s decades-old drought by winning the gold in the women’s 55-kilogram weightlifting class at the Tokyo Olympics Monday, July 26. The athlete made a record-breaking 127-kg lift in the clean and jerk event that sealed her Olympic victory. Diaz, also a silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is expected to receive “millions” from President Duterte in recognition of his latest Olympic feat, according to the Palace.