Panelo backtracks, now believes reported Duterte inclusion in Reds’ hit list

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 26 2019 03:23 PM

MANILA- Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo backtracked Thursday on his earlier statement excluding President Rodrigo Duterte from a supposed hit list by communist rebels.

Panelo earlier backed exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison when the latter denied Duterte’s inclusion in the list even after National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon confirmed the President’s inclusion.

The Duterte spokesman even said the report was “false news” and that Esperon was fed with wrong information.

“I was talking to Secretary Esperon earlier and he said the inclusion of the President in the hit list has been validated by them so it was not a wrong info[rmation] fed to them and according to him,” Panelo told reporters in Malacañang on Thursday.

Esperon last week claimed that he and President Duterte are included in an alleged hit list by communist groups.

Aside from Esperon, the Presidential Security Group also said last week that it received information on threats on President Duterte's life from communist rebels.

Sison denied the existence of the hit list as he alleged that Esperon only "aims to sow intrigue in order to sabotage the planned resumption of formal peace talks."

Panelo, however, assured the public that the government is prepared to handle the supposed threat on President Duterte’s life.

“We are ready for them because as I said, the very organization of the communist party [wants] precisely to bring [down] the government and to assassinate the officials of that government,” he said.