'Poorly sourced' ouster matrix presents conflict of interest: ex-Manila Times editor

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 26 2019 11:15 AM | Updated as of Apr 27 2019 03:17 AM

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MANILA (UPDATED) - The Manila Times' "poorly sourced" story on a supposed plot of veteran journalists to oust President Rodrigo Duterte presented a conflict of interest that might affect the newspaper's credibility, the broadsheet's former managing editor said Friday.

Felipe Salvosa II stepped down from his editorial position earlier this week after Manila Times chairman emeritus and Duterte's special envoy for international public relations Dante Ang penned a piece about an alleged "Oust Duterte" matrix that tagged several journalists as conspirators seeking to unseat the President.

The matrix was allegedly given to him by a highly-placed source in Malacañang. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo has said the source of the matrix was Duterte himself.

"When I met the owners, I told them it presented conflicts of interest," Salvosa told ANC's Early edition.

"Even if it comes from the President, you still need to have it validated. I think it is questionable that Malacanang is confirming something that came from Malacanang in the first place," he said.

"If you're going to attack the credibility of a person, you cannot use an anonymous source to do that. I think that is basic."

When asked if the credibility of the publication took a hit because of the story, Salvosa said: "I would be lying to you if I said na walang ganun."

Manila Times President Dante "Klink" Ang II earlier came to his father's defense, saying "Dr. Ang’s appointment as special envoy has no line item or office in the government or remuneration of any kind."

"He was simply acting on his journalistic instincts having been given an opportunity to write a legitimate story, that was later confirmed by the Palace," the younger Ang said.

But Salvosa said the piece also lacked the basic journalistic principle of fairness and balance.

Ang did not present the sides of those accused, said Salvosa, who also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas.

"We should have contacted all the names there. If we don't have the time to contact each and every name there, then we should not have come out with these names on page one," he said.

"It would be unfair to them to be dragged into this so-called destabilization plot na there is not enough support to make such claims except the say-so of whoever the source was," he said.

"For me it's the final straw so I had to leave," he said.

'RUNNING STORY'

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Reacting to Salvosa's comments, the older Ang maintained his write-up was not poorly sourced, saying the documents came from the Office of the President.

"'Pag galing sa opisina ng isang pangulo, hindi poorly sourced 'yan. 'Yan ang source mismo. News 'yan, balita 'yan," he told DZMM Teleradyo's "Dos Por Dos."

He added he vetted the documents with IT experts and was obliged to publish the story to inform the public.

"Hindi ko naman binibintang na coup plotters. Nire-report ko lang na nandun sa matrix. Hindi naman coup plotters, I believe they are not," he said.

The older Ang also denied the story broke conflict of interest, despite holding a government position.

"Honorific title lang. Walang suweldo, walang opisina, walang conflict of interest 'yun," he said.

He served as the publicist of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from 1993 to 2003. He was then appointed as chair of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas in 2005 until 2010.

He also slammed Salvosa for allegedly putting a spin on the latter's resignation on the paper.

The former managing editor, he said, was unethical for speaking ill against the Times.

The older Ang claimed that the article was a "running story" and those named in the matrix will be asked to comment in the subsequent stories due to time constraint.

"It was a running story. Ibig sabihin may follow-up story. Kung may objection siya, siya nag-interview sa mga tao na 'yun. Hindi niya ginawa 'yun eh," he said.

Veteran journalists tagged in the matrix discredited the Times story, saying it is "hilarious," "hogwash," and "erroneous."