Panelo’s half-apology to Hidilyn Diaz was not exactly for the ouster matrix

July 30, 2021 - 6:18 PM
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Hidilyn Diaz, Sal Panelo
File photos of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. (Reuters | PCOO)

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday apologized to Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, but it was not the apology earlier being called for.

Panelo said he was sorry for hurting the champion weightlifter’s feelings when her name was among those that appeared in the matrix of people he had alleged to be plotting against President Duterte.

But Panelo’s apology fell short as he poked holes on the fear and hurt Diaz felt for being placed among the ouster “plotters.”

“Misplaced ‘yung pain mo kasi hindi naman talaga iyon ang intensyon. The message is, before you feel pain about, medyo tignan mo muna kung tama ‘yung sapantaha mo,”  Panelo said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

“Mali ang interpretasyon, ‘yun ang pinupinto ko. Walang dapat ipag-sorry. Nag-sorry lang ako kasi nasaktan siya, pero wala naman dapat ipag-sorry kasi hindi naman siya sinasama eh. Hindi siya kasama,” he said.

In 2019, Panelo presented the matrix to the press drawing supposed connections between opposition leaders, left-leaning groups, journalists, an anti-Duterte video creator and two sports personalities, namely Diaz and former volleyball star Gretchen Ho.

Panelo, who was also presidential spokesperson then, did not provide further proof for his allegations and only cited “intelligence reports” that could not be publicly verified.

When Diaz decried her inclusion in the matrix in a video and admitted she fear for her and her family’s life because of it, Panelo blamed the media instead.

He said Diaz and Ho were only tagged in the matrix not as among the so-called plotters but because they were being followed on social media by Rodel Jayme, the creator of “Ang Totoong Narco List” video against Duterte. The video linked Duterte to the drug trade.

When Diaz became the first Filipino to bag an Olympic gold medal in history earlier this week, social media recalled the matrix and called on Panelo and other Malacañang officials to apologize for involving her in it.

Instead, Panelo said: “Madaling mag-apologize kung mali ang ginawa mo, pero kung wala ka namang ginawa, like for example, ano bang ginawa ko? I just presented the matrix, na wala naman akong kinalaman, upon the instructions of the president.”

“You cannot apologize for something that you have not committed,” he added.

Sorry not sorry 

Several users on Twitter pointed out that what Panelo said to Diaz was not an apology but a non-apology.

“Nagsosorry si Mr. Panelo dahil “nasaktan siya”, i.e Hidilyn Diaz, re the matrix, not because he accepts that he wronged her, so that’s not an apology. #Sorrynotsorry,” an online user said.

“So basically Panelo is sorry for making Hidilyn feel whatever she felt pero hindi pa rin siya nag-sorry for presenting the matrix unprepared,” another Twitter user said.

A Twitter user commended ANC journalist Karmina Constantino for putting Panelo’s statements into context.

Panelo earlier congratulated Diaz for her historic achievement at the Tokyo Olympics.

“Her feat makes us Filipinos proud. Her getting the gold is a testament to the Filipino race’s talent and indefatigable spirit,” Panelo said in a statement.

Harry Roque, Panelo’s predecessor and successor as Presidential spokesman, distanced himself for adding Diaz’s name in the matrix.

READ: Palace distances from matrix linking Hidilyn Diaz in oust-Duterte plot