Analyst: Duterte too popular for 'Lenileaks'

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 09 2017 04:56 PM

President Rodrigo R. Duterte presides the command conference at the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) headquarters in Zamboanga City on Thursday. Kiwi Bulaclac, Malacanang Photo/File Photo

President Rodrigo Duterte should have no worries when it comes to alleged ouster plots since he remains a popular and trusted official, a political analyst said Monday.

University of the Philippines Political Science Professor Ranjit Rye believes that there is no “credible” threat to the Duterte administration, despite the alleged plot by supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo to force President Duterte out of office as contained in several leaked emails that have come to be known in social media under the hashtag, "LeniLeaks."

"Right now, in my mind, there is no credible threat to the administration. It’s a popular administration that, in the eyes of many Filipinos, is legitimate and performing. Many Filipinos still strongly support the President and are very respectful of our democratic processes and institutions,” he said.

The latest Pulse Asia survey results show that Duterte had the highest approval rating among all top government officials at 83 percent and the lowest disapproval rating of 5 percent. Thirteen percent were undecided.

Duterte's approval rating is 21 points ahead of Robredo, who has a 62 percent approval rating, 23 percent undecided, and 16 percent disapproval.

However, Rye does back an investigation into the leaked emails, stressing the importance of verifying the authenticity of the matter before doing any action.

“I don’t believe any action should be done at the moment till we verify ang both the source and the substance of the information,” he said.

"On the face of it, there are some statements, there are some inclinations or positions stated in some of the leaks that point to initiatives towards ousting the administration. For me, on the face of it, that’s where I would raise a red flag because… all these discussions about undermining democracy, undermining the administration, it’s not good for the country,” he said.

NOT JUST 'LENILEAKS' 

Rye pointed out that there appears to be a move to destabilize the country even before the leaked emails.

“This is not just ‘LeniLeaks,’ there’s a broader context of instability being pushed in traditional and social media against the administration. Dissent is different from destabilization,” he said.
 
Rye recalled that prior to LeniLeaks, there were reports on how then US Ambassador Philip Goldberg allegedly left a blueprint for Duterte's ouster. 

Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman believes that the allegations merely serve to stifle dissent.

"A plain reading of the "suspected" email conversations cited by Malacañang does not manifest a design to destabilize the government or oust President Duterte. The emails are in exercise of the freedom of expression and are protected by the Bill of Rights as an essential component of democratic space,” Lagman said.

“If the President's men believe that Duterte is rendering fealty to his mandate, then their phobia of his impending ouster is grossly misplaced and is conveniently used as a pretext to discourage and censure critical dissent," he added.

Rye added that there are people who may want to put the vice president in an awkward position, and continue to isolate her as a “not so very constructive element of dissent.” 

“In the administration, there are those who continue to mount this PR campaign against the president forcing, especially the world outside, that there’s so much instability in the country that creates a wellspring of negativity,” he said.

Rye noted that what is clear for him is that there are many local and foreign forces pushing their agenda in social media to make their claims legitimate,

“You can see so much misinformation, that’s why we have to take this seriously because if there’s a concerted effort both foreign and domestic, government must have the right to defend itself," he said.