Updated 13:34 PM PHT Tue, January 10, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday denied any involvement over controversial emails from her supporters reportedly pushing for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte.
"Hindi ko alam kung ano ang participation ko" [I don't know what my participation is], said Robredo when asked about the email controversy, dubbed "LeniLeaks," in an interview with reporters in Marinduque.
She spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a visit to check on relief operations there in the aftermath of typhoon Nina which devastated the province as well as her home province of Camarines Sur during Christmas.
Over the weekend, popular netizens who support Duterte — bloggers Thinking Pinoy and Sass Rogando Sasot — reported on a trail of emails from Robredo's supporters based in the Philippines and the US.
Their posts became viral over the weekend, but Robredo is firm in dismissing any involvement in the group planning the President's ouster.
"Na-memention daw ang pangalan ko pero hindi ako kabahagi nung grupong iyon. Mayroon din daw e-mails na nag-cicirculate, wala. Hindi rin ako kabahagi doon," Robredo said. [I was told my name was mentioned, but I'm not part of that group. They said there were emails circulating, but there's none. I'm also not part of that thread.]
The hashtag #LeniLeaks trended in social media platforms, as the emails traded among US-based businesswoman Loida Nicolas-Lewis, her sister Imelda Nicolas, former Commission on Filipinos Overseas chairperson, and other Robredo supporters were shared online.
In the emails, the personalities in the pro-Robredo group planned strategies on how to defend Robredo from negative publicity over her absence during typhoon Nina as she vacationed in the U.S., as well as how to discredit her rival in the VP race in the May 2016 elections, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
Robredo says "Lenileaks" is surprising and ridiculous.
"Parang nakakagulat na kung sikreto iyong pinag-uusapan doon, bakit public iyong grupo," Robredo said. "Tayo ang nasa receiving end ng napakaraming fake na news, napakaraming hindi tama na mga kuwento."
[Translation: It's surprising that the conversation should be a secret, but the group's account is set in public. We are at the receiving end of so many fake news, so many false stories.]
Robredo admits knowing Lewis
Robredo, on the other hand, admitted she knows Lewis — and that the billionaire was her supporter when she was a congresswoman.
"Nakausap ko po siya napakatagal nang panahon. Hindi ko po alam kung before the campaign or during the campaign, before po yata; before the campaign," Robredo said. "Isa po siya sa sumuporta sa akin noong kumandidato ako bilang Congressman, dahil taga-doon po siya sa amin sa Bicol."
[Translation: It was a long time ago when I talked to her the last time. I'm not even sure if that was before or during the campaign — but I think it was before the campaign. She was one of those who supported me when I ran for office as congressman because Bicol was her home province.]
Robredo also pointed out, she has not talked to Lewis since she was elected vice president. "Ni personal meeting, ni tawag sa telepono hindi po kami nagtawagan o nag-meet sa America," Robredo added. [Not even a personal meeting, neither a call. We didn't meet in America.]
She also dismissed reports that she stayed at the house of Lewis during her recent vacation in the United States.
In her previous interviews, the Vice President said she doubts if there's a plan to oust the President. She has also said such a scheme won't do the country any good.
The Palace said it is up to Robredo to convince the public that there's no truth to alleged plans to oust President Duterte, with whom she has a fractious relationship, following her resignation from his cabinet as Housing Secretary.