Don't waste time on 'LeniLeaks,' Duterte admin advised

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — "LeniLeaks" is a waste of time, a political analyst says.

A "leak" of emails showing that supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo are plotting President Rodrigo Duterte's ouster may have taken social media by storm. But the Duterte administration should ignore the issue, says University of Santo Tomas political science professor Dennis Coronacion.

"I think it's going to be a waste of time for the Duterte administration to devote a portion of its time to this issue," Coronacion told "The Source" on Tuesday.

"If I were the President's ally, even the President himself, I would not waste my time on this one, my energy, and government resources," he added.

The email messages from a Yahoo! Group called Global Filipino Diaspora Council would form "weak" evidence against Robredo, Coronacion said, adding that unverified information could not be a ground for investigation or for an impeachment complaint against her.

He made the remarks as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said the National Security Council was investigating the emails.

The "leak" consisting of screenshots of the email correspondence went viral since Saturday following posts by two pro-Duterte bloggers with a significant online following.

The emails allegedly showed the Office of the Vice President's social media team giving instructions on how to respond to criticism of Robredo following her absence from her calamity-stricken home province of Camarines Sur at the height of typhoon Nina in December.

In other correspondence, the group's members talked about mass protests against the surprise burial in the heroes' cemetery of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, and a call for Duterte's resignation after he failed to meet his six-month deadline to solve the country's drug problem.

If the Yahoo! group indeed called for Duterte's resignation, Coronacion said this is nothing new.

"Every Philippine president was subjected to an ouster call, I think no one was exempted from that," he said.

Read: 'LeniLeaks' an issue of 'concern' but not critical to Cabinet agenda: presidential spokesperson

Duterte-Robredo rift

While evidence of an oust-Duterte plot may be weak, "LeniLeaks" has succeeded on aggravating the standing rift between the country's highest officials, Coronacion said.

"It only highlights the fact that there's an increasing gap between the President and the Vice President," he explained.

Duterte and Robredo, who won the 2016 elections under different political parties, have admitted tension in their relationship.

Robredo said Duterte's order for her to desist from all Cabinet meetings was the "last strain," while Duterte accused Robredo of joining rallies against the administration. 

Robredo has since promised to be the voice of the opposition.

Read: VP Leni Robredo promises louder opposition to death penalty, extrajudicial killings

While it is healthy for any democracy to have an opposition that watches and criticizes the administration, Coronacion said there should be limits.

"If you're going to take as far as ousting, then it will affect people's perception about our stability," he said. He added it can pull investments out of the country. 

He, however, reminded the administration should not try to "kill the opposition" because it would also put an end to democracy and establish authoritarian rule.

He called on both sides to stop politicking and focus on serving the country.

No ouster plot

The Office of the Vice President agrees the government should not waste time and public resources on probing the "LeniLeaks" controversy.

But Robredo's spokesperson, Georgina Hernandez, on Tuesday told CNN Philippines the issue was "malicious" from the very start.

"Kahit na yung mismong pagtawag dun sa issue na 'LeniLeaks' ay napakamalisyoso at misleading dahil po hindi naman po talaga nagleak ang mensahe dahil public po ito [Even the name 'LeniLeaks' is very malicious and misleading; there was no leak at all because the messages are public]," Hernandez said.

She reiterated the Vice President was not part of the Global Filipino Diaspora Council Yahoo! Group.

One of its members, Filipino-American Loida Lewis-Nicolas admitted to calling for Duterte's resignation, but only based on his failure to fulfill his promise to suppress drugs in six months. She clarified their group is not plotting Duterte's ouster.

Read: Fil-Am businesswoman on #Lenileaks: No plot to oust Duterte

Lewis said the group is committed only to fighting for the overseas Filipinos' rights and the Philippine's claims to the West Philippine Sea.

Robredo has also denied involvement in any effort to remove the President from power. 

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Tuesday said "LeniLeaks" was an issue of "concern" but was not grave enough to be discussed in Monday's Cabinet meeting.