Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Monday denied allegations that she is part of a group plotting the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte, calling such accusations ridiculous.
In a chance interview with reporters in Marinduque where she visited victims of Typhoon Nina, Robredo clarified that the supposed e-mail exchange among her supporters led by philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis did not involve her or her office. She said Lewis had been her supporter since 2013 when she decided to run for a congressional post as representative of Camarines Sur.
“She [was]one of my supporters when I ran for Congress because she is also from Bicol. I have talked to her way back, I think even before the [vice presidential]campaign started. But since I won [as Vice President], we haven’t seen or talked to each other. It is not true that we met in the US,” the Vice President said, referring to her Christmas vacation in the US where she attended a family reunion with her three daughters Aika, Tricia and Jillian.
“We did not have a personal meeting, and we did not even have a phone conversation or see each other in the US. So those things you’ve heard about that topic are false,” Robredo pointed out.
“I am not involved in those e-mail exchanges. These e-mails mentioned my name, which are not surprising because I am the Vice President and I have supporters who respond to attacks on me. I have been at the receiving end of fake news and falsehoods, and the e-mails were an apparent response,” she said.
The leaked emails that supposedly showed a plot to undermine President Duterte were posted online.
“Most of the things thrown at me are really purely ridiculous,” she said in a separate speech.
On Monday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd claimed that Robredo stayed in Lewis’ house in the US.
But the Vice President slammed Aguirre for lying.
“It’s sad that even our Justice secretary is a part of those lies. He is the Secretary of Justice, so I wish that he won’t say lies because that claim [that I stayed in Lewis’ house]is a lie. I have never talked to her and never saw her in the US,” Robredo said.
She added that the accusations thrown her way had not dampened her resolve to fulfil her mandate.
“There is a lot of viciousness in the Internet, but I have a mandate to serve. I’d rather focus on my mandate,” Robredo said.
Although the “LeniLeaks” controversy was tackled during a Cabinet meeting on Monday, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said the issue will be investigated.
Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the oath-taking of newly-appointed government officials in Malacañang, Esperon added that they are not taking the issue lightly.
“LeniLeaks? We have a Cabinet meeting today, it happens that it will not be one of the matters that will be taken up. It just tells you that we have other more important matters [to discuss],” he said.
“[But] It doesn’t mean also that if we don’t talk about it in the media, we do not give it importance. It is important in the sense that we have to know the veracity of some things, as they affect our stability, Esperon added.
Lewis has already denied concocting a plan to remove Duterte from office. She also clarified that her call for Duterte to quit was based on the President’s promise that he would resign if drugs were still rampant six months after his inauguration in June last year.
But Esperon defended the extension, saying it is immaterial in the overall scheme of things.
“What are their charges? What don’t they want? Sabi nila, one, bakit daw in-extend ng more than three months yung anti-drug campaign [They say, for one, why was the Duterte admnistration’s drug war extended for more than three months]? My golly, if they are from the Americas, wherever North or South or the USA, there are a lot of drug wars, going on in their vicinity. Meaning, neighboring countries at alam naman nilang decades… ang labanan doon tungkol sa droga ay inaabot nang matagalan. So bakit sila mag-aapura ng three months kaagad [They know that fighting drugs take decades. So why are they rushing]?” the security adviser said.
He added that the administration will look into the identity of the bloggers behind the “LeniLeaks.”
“That could be part of the overall work but as I said, this should not be the flavor of the day or the month, this is something that we already know. And the best way to address this is to show that we are effective in anti-drugs, that we could address the problems that they are concerned with,” Esperon said.
Senate President Pro-tempore Franklin Drilon also dismissed the supposed plot against Duterte as “crap.”
Drilon said Malacañang should not take issues posted in social media seriously.
“This is all crap,” the senator told reporters. “I don’t think we should decide on the basis of what appears in social media. We can get misled.”
The senator said he had not discussed the issue with Robredo but that the alleged plot is farthest from her mind.
“There is no such thing, I can assure you,” he added.