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Palace to probe alleged emails of Leni backers plotting vs Duterte

In this July 12, 2016 photo, Vice President Leni Robredo is sworn in by President Rodrigo Duterte as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council at Malacañan. Witnessing the oathtaking are her daughters Jillian, Tricia and Aika. File
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is looking into the leaked emails about the supposed plan of supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo to create dissent against President Rodrigo Duterte that surfaced on social networking sites recently.
 
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the Palace is taking the matter seriously but would not make judgments until the information contained in the emails are validated.
 
“It has really become a national issue. I said even before it becomes a national issue, as one of the president’s men, I am concerned about this. I need to know about the veracity of the reports,” Andanar told radio station dzBB Sunday. 
 
Andanar said National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. is also concerned about the alleged emails and is ready to have them investigated.
 
“I said ‘Secretary Jun (Esperon), it is already viral. It can go two ways. Either they are full of truths or full of lies. I have to pass the documents so he can look at it,” he said.  
 
“Secretary Esperon said he is also worried but we in the government are not in the business of jumping into conclusion without investigating.”
 
When asked if Robredo was part of the email conversations, Andanar replied: “I don’t think so. I did not see anything there indicating that she was part of it. Allegedly, her staff (was part of the conversation) but we don’t want to say that for now.”
 
Andanar also said it is early to tell whether Robredo was part of the plot to undermine the president.
 
“We will see. I don’t want to jump the gun. I don’t want to be judgmental. It is under investigation. We will do everything to solve this matter,” he said.
 
While authorities have yet to confirm that the emails really came from Robredo’s supporters, Andanar wants the issue discussed during the Cabinet meeting on Monday.
 
“Both of us agreed that we will take this up to the president,” Andanar said referring to himself and Esperon.
 
“It could lead into destabilization. We do not know. We want to know the veracity of it, the veracity of the documents, if it’s bona fide or not because it could lead to destabilization.” 
 
Dubbed as “Lenileaks” because of the supposed involvement of people from the Office of the Vice President, the emails contained conversations about rallies calling for Duterte’s resignation and mass actions against his decision to allow the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
 
The email messages, which were attributed to supporters of Robredo, also discussed efforts to mobilize schools, priests and nuns against Duterte. The anti-Duterte rallies were supposedly organized to prevent a plot to oust Robredo from office.
 
Among those who were allegedly part of the email conversations were billionaire philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis, her sister former Commission on Filipinos Overseas Chairperson Imelda Nicolas and lawyer Ted Laguatan.
 
When asked whether those behind the emails may face sedition charges, Andanar said: “I don’t want to jump into conclusion. If you say it’s a possibility, it might as well be a possibility. We want to give the benefit of the doubt to the people who are allegedly involved.” 
 
Andanar, nevertheless, maintained that seeking to destabilize a government is wrong and illegal.
 
Robredo has not reacted to the issue but in an earlier interview, the vice president said ouster plots against the president would not be good for the country. Andanar thanked Robredo for the statement but stressed that she has the “moral authority” to talk to her supporters who are creating noise online.
 
“As leader of the opposition, she (Robredo) has the moral authority to talk to her ranks who are noisy in social media to respect the mandate of the president,” he said.
 
Andanar also urged people mentioned in the leaked emails to explain themselves to the public to settle the issue.
 
Last month, Duterte asked Robredo to desist from attending Cabinet meetings, prompting her to resign as housing chief. The president, later on, claimed that “yellows” or people associated with the opposition want to oust him because they cannot accept electoral defeat.
 
Duterte revealed in a recent interview that Robredo was excluded from Cabinet meetings because she had attended demonstrations calling for his ouster. Robredo has denied the claim and lamented that Duterte believed what she described as “false” reports about her. 
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