Malacanang is investigating the alleged "LeniLeaks" controversy that shows a supposed plot by supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo to discredit and eventually unseat President Rodrigo Duterte.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and online forensics experts are verifying social media rumors that Robredo's supporters are part of a "restricted" Yahoo group that allegedly drew plans to denigrate Duterte in the international scene.
He noted that at least one Inquirer columnist, Randy David, mentioned in the conversation thread had already denied being part of any ouster plot.
"Number one order of the day is to check the veracity of the document; kung ito ba talaga ay bonafide Yahoo conversation, at number two, kung bonafide siya, kung ito ba talagang personalities ay kasama nga, kung sila ba talaga iyun," Andanar told radio DZMM.
"This is a process na ang makakaalam lang nito, ang makakapag-imbestiga ay mga online forensic experts. Makikipag-tulungan na rin ang Yahoo."
(The number one order of the day is to check the veracity of the document, if this was a bonafide Yahoo conversation, and number two; if the personalities tagged in the controversy were really involved. This is a process that can only be verified by online forensic experts. Yahoo will cooperate with the probe.)
The hashtag #LeniLeaks dominated social media over the weekend after several bloggers claimed that some of Robredo's Filipino-American supporters and aides are plotting to overthrow the Duterte government, as well as discredit former Senator Bongbong Marcos, who has a pending electoral protest against the Vice President.
Andanar said the conversation thread showed more of a media strategy to counter the negative publicity being hurled at Vice President Robredo while undermining Marcos.
He said that while the bloggers' unfounded claim must be "taken with a grain of salt," the administration cannot readily dismiss any threat to unseat Duterte.
"It's a serious matter sapagkat may nakasulat doon kung paano nila papag-resign-in si President Duterte... Siyempre, that does not sit well with us in the government because any move to oust the President is not good and it is definitely illegal," he said.
(It is a serious matter because it is written there how they will force Duterte to resign. Of course, that does not sit well with us in the government because any move to oust the President is not good and it is definitely illegal.)
"I'm a member of the Duterte Cabinet. I will not take this lightly, ganoon din po si (and so will) Secretary Jun Esperon," he added.
Andanar acknowledged that Robredo herself may have no hand in the alleged ouster plan because she was not in the conversation thread. "It's possible she didn't know," he said.
He said he will raise the issue during Duterte's meeting with his Cabinet on Monday.
Robredo has repeatedly denied joining any move calling for the President's ouster.
On Monday, her spokesperson, Georgina Hernandez, denied that Robredo is part of the aforementioned Yahoo! group.
"No, she is not part of that public Yahoo! group," she said
Hernandez said Robredo had "very limited time to really look into the matter," but their camp maintains that the alleged plot to unseat the president is not directly connected to their office.
"She has been in the field, she has been in different places in Bicol and Marinduque, but she has heard about this but only in bits and pieces and as she clearly said, this is really independent, this is not directly linked to the Office of the Vice President," she said.
Hernandez also asserted that the aforementioned conversation thread was public and "there should be no malice put into the information that was brought out in social media."