#LeniLeaks and how the Office of the Vice President instructing their supporters how to neutralise criticisms against Leni Robredo

#LeniLeaks and how the Office of the Vice President instructing their supporters how to neutralise criticisms against Leni Robredo

- in Opinion
Sass SezSass Sez

In reaction to the leaked social media strategy of the OVP, a well-respected journalist said that “the Office of the VP, her staff and supporters, are well within legal bounds begging support from allies. It’s just like Digong and his communications orchestrating attacks against the VP and anyone else they think are enemies.” Well, burying a dictator at LNMB is also within legal bounds, as confirmed by the Supreme Court; but people still protested it. Why? Because legality isn’t the only measure of judging the appropriateness of any action. At the end of the day, we can respect the legal decision, while not accept it because of other reasons. The issue here is political and not the legality of what the OVP is doing. The political question is: Is it appropriate for the OVP to instruct its supporters to attack Leni’s critics? For me, this sounds a bit like the unresolved White Envelope issue of the Daang Matuwid campaign, in which people are INSTRUCTED to shout “Roxas Na” loudly, otherwise they wouldn’t get an envelope.

The same journalist claimed that the Duterte Administration has the same social media strategy as the OVP to attack the VP or any citizen critical of the Duterte Administration. Yet she didn’t provide any evidence at all to support her claim. She mentioned it as if it’s a matter of fact rather than a matter of her own speculation. Her claim is UNVERIFIABLE and UNSUBSTANTIATED. It is as UNVERIFIABLE and UNSUBSTANTIATED as the claim that the Marcoses or Duterte paid me to change my mind about Leni Robredo.

The social media (SOCMED) strategy of the OVP is verifiable. Through a tip from one of my readers, I saw it on Thursday in the Yahoogroups of Global Filipino Diaspora Council (GFDC), a group led by Loida Nicolas Lewis. They forgot to set the messages to PRIVATE. Yes, in the age of FB Groups, using Yahoogroups is ridiculous. Yet they still used it. Imelda Nicolas, Loida’s sister, received it from a certain Pete Silva. Imelda then forwarded it to the Yahoogroups of GFDC. One of my readers alerted me about it: “”TP yung concerted effort to attack Duterte Pages ay from Leni’s camp.” The same strategy could be found disseminated in the FB Group called “Educators for Leni Robredo.”

When I read the strategy, I immediately saw my name. It was mentioned twice in the OVP’s SOCMED strategy. If this document were written by a Private Person, I wouldn’t really care that much. Maybe I would find it intriguing, but I would probably just shrug it off. But this is from the OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT.

Certainly, it’s within “legal bounds” for the OVP to monitor people critical of them. But there is something else that the OVP wanted to do: they wanted to neutralise criticisms from Mocha, Thinking Pinoy, and I by turning the tables on us.

In Instruction C, the OVP called us “troll influencers.” The OVP instructed their “communities” to deflect our criticisms by propagating this message:

“The dissatisfaction with VP Leni does not come from Bikolanos. It comes from troll influencers (Mocha, Sass, Thinking Pinoy) who NEVER organized or mobilized efforts to help out the typhoon victims.”

This wasn’t the first issue that we’ve become critical of VP Leni. And during those times, we’ve also been attacked relentlessly by FB Pages aligned with the OVP. So, did they also receive instructions from the OVP on what to do during those times? The final paragraph of the SOCMED strategy says: “We would also like to request you and your communities to coordinate with us whenever a new campaign is launched for them and/or against her.” So has the OVP also coordinated with both the FB Pages who are pro-Leni when they launched campaigns to attack me, Mocha, or Thinking Pinoy? The SOCMED strategy we found indicates that they probably could have done that.

I’ve never been approached by the Duterte Administration to attack the VP or anyone. But, every now and then, I’ve been approached by their social media point person, Pebbles Duque, to post announcements from the Presidential Communications Office Operations. Most of the time, I don’t post them.

I’ve never been approached by anyone from the Marcos camp to say anything negative of Leni Robredo. I’ve never been instructed by anyone what to say.

I’ve never received any SOCMED strategy coming from the Office of the President instructing me or anyone on how to deflect criticisms of the President or to attack anyone critical of the President. My opinion are mine and mine alone.

I’ve criticised General Bato’s vacation in Las Vegas and stint as a Miss Earth judge. No one from the Office of the President told me to shut up. I’ve criticised the conflict of interest of Marco Angelo Cabrera, the staff of the Official Gazette, who was implicated in the Martial Law History revisionism. Cabrera was a former staff of Bongbong Marcos (http://tinyurl.com/hzy4ayk). No one from the Official Gazette told me to shut up. I’ve criticised Mark Villar for the “epal” tarpaulins found in C5 extension. Instead of being attacked back by Villar’s office, the office of Mark Villar responded that they would take them down (http://tinyurl.com/h3x62qh).

Now, the supporters of Leni are making the #LeniLeaks issue a tactic of BBM’s camp. I got one piece of unsolicited advice to the OVP: Please stop using other people to cover up your own actions. Own up to them.

Lastly, I would like to discuss Instruction E of the SOCMED strategy of the OVP:

“Compare the Duterte and the Robredo visit in Bicol. Digong just gave a speech for the “ceremonial giving of donations”. He did not go to the far flung areas to know their concerns. He never interacted with his constituents. He went there with the media only because he needs to be seen there. VP Leni, on the other hand, visited far flung areas and met with the people. She is on ground zero.“

It’s a way for the OVP to make Leni look good by comparing what she and Duterte did in Bicol. That’s so different from what Leni Robredo said: “”Actually galing na [si Duterte] dito. Mayroon na din directive sa mga national government offices pero iyong sa akin lang sana magtulung-tulungan kami” (http://tinyurl.com/hqwa8dt).

On camera, Robredo wants to set aside politics and is calling for cooperation, yet behind the scenes, as evidenced by the SOCMED Strategy of her Office, her office wants to politicise the issue so that criticisms against her could be neutralised! Ano bang ka-plastikan iyan?

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About the author

Sass Rogando Sasot
A transpinay based in The Hague, Sass Rogando Sasot is studying at Leiden University, pursuing an MA in International Relations, working on a thesis on how a systemic change led to the rivalry of the coastal States of the South China Sea. In 2013, Sass became the first Filipino to receive the ECHO Award, given annually to excellent migrant students in academic and higher professional education in The Netherlands. In 2014, she graduated magna cum laude at Leiden University College-The Hague, with a Combined Major in World Politics and Global Justice, minor in International Development, with courses on U.S. Foreign Policy and International Relations of China take at UCLA. She has at least 10 years of practical international experience.

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