‘Lenileaks’ oust-Duterte plot doomed—Esperon
NATIONAL Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon on Monday warned that any plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte would not succeed as a barrage of leaked e-mails suggested the existence of such a scheme.
“To those who want to oust the President, just stop it,” Esperon said in Filipino during a radio interview, saying public support for Duterte remained very high.
In a separate interview, Esperon said the accusations hurled against Duterte in the leaked e-mails did not hold water.
“Look at these, what are their charges? They are insinuating [that Duterte should resign] because he cannot fix the drug problem and is asking for a three-month extension.”
In America, he said, the drug war has gone on for decades.
“Don’t be in a rush,” he said. “Voters voted for the President because they wanted somebody to forcefully face the problem.”
He also said they would have to check the veracity of the alleged leak e-mails, which were first circulated on social media by pro-Duterte bloggers.
The leaked e-mails purportedly show exchanges among critics of the President on how to drum up support for the “Duterte Resign” call of the Global Filpino Diaspora Council.
Among those included in the conversation were billionaire Fil-Am lobbyist Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Nicolas-Lewis’ sister Commission on Filipinos Overseas chairwoman Imelda Nicolas, CFO Commissioner Jose Molano Jr., Inquirer US Bureau columnist Ted Laguatan, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau correspondent Gene Alcantara, and Northern Europe civil society leader Filomenita Mongaya Hogsholm.
Although Vice President Leni Robredo is not among those who posted a message to the group, the leaked e-mails have been dubbed “Lenileaks,” presumably because she would be installed as President if Duterte is ousted.
Nicolas-Lewis, whom Duterte identified as one of the moving forces behind a plan to launch protest rallies against his administration, urged him to resign after his decision to ease out the vice president and failing to keep his promise to rid the country of drugs and criminality “in three to six months.”
In a statement, Nicolas-Lewis denied accusations that there is a conspiracy to unseat Duterte.
“Dissent is not equivalent to a plot or conspiracy. Since when has criticism become an element of sedition?” Nicolas-Lewis said.
“First: No plot to oust Duterte. Resign Duterte Movement is based on President Duterte’s own words that he would resign if drugs are still rampant six months after his inauguration.”
“Second, Global Filipino Diaspora Council is a public site. If there is a conspiracy, would it be discussed in a public page?” she added.
“In a democracy, opinions of varying shades, either praise or criticism, are a staple ingredient of a vibrant democracy,” she said.
Duterte had earlier issued a warning that he would soon get even with his critics, as soon as he finished addressing the country’s pressing problems.
On Sunday, a Palace official said the so-called Lenileaks wouldn’t be investigated, but hours later, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said he would raise the alleged ouster plot during the Cabinet meeting set Monday.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco played down the need to investigate the supposed ouster plot.
“Let’s just not dignify these [ouster plots.] Because you’ll legitimize these,” he told Palace reporters.
“Of course, if these are true, we don’t believe that these will succeed,” he added.
Esperon said the alleged leaked e-mails are not part of the agenda of President Duterte’s first Cabinet meeting for 2017.
“We have a Cabinet meeting. It happens that it is not one of the matters to be taken up. That just tells you that we have other more important matters [to discuss],” Esperon said.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II also said there was no need to investigate the alleged plot.
“There is nothing wrong to dream,” Aguirre said, even as he downplayed the alleged plot as nothing but the vice president’s supporters “making noise.” With Rey E. Requejo