MANILA - A group of lawyers accused of plotting the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called the claims "rubbish," as they claimed they were too busy defending human rights.
The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers hit a report on Manila Times, which quoted "highly placed source in the Office of the President" that "there is a plot to discredit the President and destabilize his government."
"Criticism is not ousting. Lawyering is not destabilizing. At bottom, this allegation is not worth the paper it is written on. It is putrid rubbish. Garbage in — and so must — garbage out," NUPL said in a statement signed by its chairman Neri Colmenares, president Edre Olalia, secretary general Ephraim Cortez, and adviser Carlos Zarate.
In Ang's "fantastic, nay libelous, tale" NUPL said their group was labeled as a "leftist group” working with the media practitioners named in the matrix to collaborate with communists in their destablization scheme.
"This has certainly gone over the walls of credulity. It is absolutely false, totally baseless and completely ludicrous," it added.
"We are lawyers and are simply just too busy defending and promoting human rights especially of the basic sectors. We have our hands full advocating public interest issues. We do not have time for such hogwash accusations which will not even pass muster Ripley’s Believe It or Not," the statement further read.
The matrix is "not only a bait to engage in absurd and endless tit for tat to distract" them, but it also endangers the lives of their members, said the NUPL leaders.
It related of "false narratives" regarding their links to a certain “Bikoy” who appeared in a video of a supposed “narcolist” that alleged Duterte and his family were involved in the drug trade.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo released a similar matrix during a press briefing in Malacañang around noon.
The lawyers' group said it was being vilified because it has "criticized the extrajudicial killings in the so-called drug war" as early as July 2016.
It also noted of public interest cases it filed before the Supreme Court and other fora, including questioning martial law, burial of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the cybercrime law, power rate hikes, tax reform law, and Boracay closure.
The group also stood as counsel to imprisoned domestic helper Mary Jane Veloso, Australian nun Patricia Fox, various political prisoners, dissenters and protesters, the victims of Kidapawan and Sagay killings, the Kadamay urban poor in Pandi, the Nutrasia striking workers, the alternative media from DDoS cyber attacks, the ACT teachers who are profiled, among others.
It added, it also filed cases against former President Arroyo and her generals, and sent to jail "her poster boy" Gen. Jovito Palparan.
"We will not blink nor look the other way. We are unfazed even as we are disturbed. In the ultimate analysis, who really is running scared here?"
The lawyers vowed that to do their job "based on our mandate, priorities and capacity."