FILIPINO-American supporters of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo are allegedly behind efforts to undermine President Rodrigo Duterte, leaked emails posted online by bloggers showed.
The leaked emails, first posted by the “Thinking Pinoy” blog on Friday, showed exchanges between members of the “Global Filipino Diaspora Council” (GFDC) including billionaire philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis and her sister, former Commission on Filipinos Overseas chairwoman Imelda “Mely” Nicolas, both Robredo supporters.
In one of the emails, dated December 4 or the day Robredo announced her resignation from the Duterte Cabinet, Lewis supposedly told GFDC members: “The only way to fight this evil plot to unseat VP Leni is to ask Duterte to resign. After all, he promised to resign in six months if he has not solved the drug epidemic in the Philippines.”
“He asked for an extension of another six months. Extension denied! Join Duterte Resign Movement,” the email said. It provided a link to a change.org petition calling on the President to quit.
Another leaked email, supposedly from lawyer Ted Laguatan, claimed protests against Duterte were gaining ground. The email was dated November 21 or amid protests against the burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.
“This plan is going even better than I expected. We, on our part outside the Philippines are doing our part in holding rallies everywhere,” it said.
It also asked the GFDC to reach out to the student councils of UP, Ateneo de Manila, De La Salle University and other schools, as well as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to mobilize priests and nuns.
“Thanks for fighting a genuinely sacred fight,” it added.
An email from “Mely” replied: “Let us continue to keep each other abreast of what’s happening from both sides of the ocean.”
Sought for comment, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., who alerted Malacañang of the supposed anti-Duterte activities of Filipino-American groups last September, said: “A picture is worth more than a thousand words.”
“Let the picture speak for itself and draw your own conclusions from it,” he said.
Robredo did not address the supposed leaked emails on Saturday, but in response to a question from the press in Iloilo on her supposed involvement in a plot to unseat Duterte, she said: “Ako naniniwala ako na hindi makakabuti sa bansa natin na gumawa na naman tayo ng mga ‘oust the President’ movement [I believe it is not good for the country for us to organize ‘oust the President’ movements].”
Trolls vs Marcos
Another email, this time from the Office of the Vice President’s social media unit and dated January 4, instructed “trolls” to launch an online counterattack against Duterte, defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and a number of social media personalities.
The counterattack was supposedly meant as a response to pro-Marcos and pro-Duterte groups and “influencers” such as the blogs of “Thinking Pinoy” and “Maharlika,” newly appointed censors board member Mocha Uson, Sass Rogando Sassot and a “Mr. Riyoh” who have criticized Robredo for vacationing in the US as Typhoon “Nina” hit her home region of Bicol on Christmas Day.
“The BBM (Bongbong Marcos) camp has released several memes to have a ‘show of force’. Their messaging is to make their memes viral to make it appear like more people voted for BBM as the real VP. Our attack: Flip the memes and show unflattering pictures with controversies of BBM and use their ‘the real VP’ narrative,” the supposed email from the vice president’s social media team read.
“[We should] use the photos of BBM supporters during the Luneta rally and/or Duterte youth during the Marcos burial rally. The messaging should be: they’re numerous online, but they never deliver the real bodies needed when the battle is offline. They are a fake and paid army,” it claimed.
“We would also like to request you and your communities to coordinate with us whenever a new campaign is launched for them and/or against her (Robredo),” it added.
The same email also defended Robredo’s efforts for typhoon victims by saying that her team was mobilized even before the typhoon hit, and that she organized private efforts to donate to typhoon-hit Bicol, Marinduque, Batangas and Mindoro.
“The dissatisfaction with VP Leni does not come from Bikolanos. It comes from troll influencers (Mocha, Sass, Thinking Pinoy) who never organized or mobilized efforts to help out the typhoon victims. VP Leni cannot shoulder everything. The national government (and other agencies such as DSWD) is the one who needs to step up,” it added.
The Office of the Vice President has yet to respond to queries in connection with the supposedly leaked emails.