As if to counter my thesis about the power of one, a force from the dark side has come to the fore to rescue Darth Vader (a.k.a. Butch Abad) from destruction and stall reform and renewal in the Aquino administration. Call it the power of ten. The Hyatt 10.
If the commentary of Ellen Tordesillas on the Vera Files website is confirmed and corroborated, it would affirm what Kit Tatad first disclosed in the Standard—that President Aquino’s sisters pushed hard for the dismissal/resignation of Budget Secretary Butch Abad, and came very, very close to winning the day.
But before PNoy could pull the plug, the infamous Hyatt 10 materialized from out of nowhere to stop him. He balked.
Implications: What might have been
The implications of this narrative are tantalizing: had Aquino heeded his sisters’ impassioned plea, he could have deftly eluded much of the flak and ignominy arising from the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The public would have had one evil genius on whom to pour its anger instead of two. And the Supreme Court would only have one bald head to debate with.
Aquino would not have delivered anymore his bizarre and disastrous DAP speech on July 14 that put him in direct confrontation with the Supreme Court and made him a villain for the ages.
His State of the Nation Address on July 28 would have been thematically and materially different, and he would not have had to distort too much the real state of the nation.
And he and his sisters would not have had to shed tears before the cameras to squeeze some public sympathy. With Abad on the dock, public understanding would have been easier to win.
And we will not be where we are now – mocked by Abad’s ubiquitous face on television and by his endless droning on how the DAP is good for the nation and for our souls.
In Filipino, “pumasok ang Hyatt 10 sa eksena”. In plain English, the infamous Hyatt 10 entered the scene and grabbed the script.
They blackmailed President Aquino into desisting from pulling the plug on Abad.
In the same way that they tried to blackmail President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo into resignng during her crisis of survival in the Hello Garci controversy, this time around they blackmailed Aquino into keeping Abad in the fold, free to administer the DAP and share the loot generously with them, by threatening to quit en masse if Abad was fired.
The strategy stopped the President from effecting the first essential step to surmount his own crisis of survival.
In each case, Hyatt 10 employed the dark power of blackmail – do this or we will desert or snitch on you.
Significantly, they did not get their way with President Arroyo. The lady was tough as nails and had a lot of fight in her.
This time around, it appears that they got their way with the inexperienced President Aquino. But only for the time being. The sisterhood is still very much on court. And they’re on the lookout for allies, wherever they can find them – even the improbable and timorous vice president Jejomar Binay.
Like a mafia family
Conspiracies die hard. Like a mafia family, members of Hyatt 10 have evidently sworn an oath “to survive and survive together – at the expense of the nation if need be. And like the mafia, they calculated that they were making Aquino “an offer he could not refuse.”
Where does a president find people like these who have such rotten values? How did they rise to such positions of influence in the ruling class?
Hyatt 10 has a lot to answer for, but without having anything to offer in the way of serious achievements.
Some conspirators have died or disappeared into obscurity? But those remaining are still quite potent.
Their biggest accomplishment is being able to survive and thrive from one administration to the next. They lost out with Arroyo, and then negotiated a package deal with Aquino. Now, they’re sounding out vice-president Binay for a possible alliance.
Butch Abad is the apparent leader of the group, because of his mastery of the dark arts and shamelessness. His authorship and implementation of the DAP has fattened the wallets of his fellow conspirators and party colleagues.
Purisima is the finance secretary, self-proclaimed architect of the country’s return to fiscal stability (though much of the credit, says the World Bank, belongs to the central bank.)
Teresita Quintos-Deles is the presidential peace adviser and architect of the Bangsamoro peace agreement and proposed law, which threatens to become the next albatross of the administration
Mely Nicholas, commissioner on overseas Filipinos (immigrants, not OFWs), holds an inconsequential post,
Dinky soliman, social services secretary and administrator of the P64-billion conditional cash trqansfer program (CCT), has the dubious mission of transforming the republic into a welfare state.
Usually unnmentioned in the stories is Johnny Santos, former trade secretary and currently chairman of the Social Security System, who is content to enjoy the perks, allowances and privileges that the SSS board have awarded themselves for four years running.
Why the group should wield so huge an influence over the president is amazing because none of the posts they held, except for Finance, is considered essential to effective governance and presidential success.
If anything, Hyatt10 is just a lobby group for their selfish interests, and their remaining in government casts a long shadow over the remaining months of the Aquino presidency, preventing it from improving or cementing a positive legacy. The national treasury is at hazard while they are in place.
It’s striking that throughout the ordeal of the president and the nation last month, the entire Hyatt 10, except for Abad, was not visible in defending the administration. when the going gets tough, they become invisible.
None of these personages hold office independently of President Aquino.
Cabinet secretaries and agency chiefs can be hired and fired at whim, because they are without constitutional power.
Life without Abad and regeneration
The Aquino sisters deserve commendation for their sensitivity and uprightness in moving to sideline Abad, soon after the high court handed its crushing decision on the DAP. Their counsel, had it been followed, would have spared the president and the nation considerable aggravation and distress.
It’s possible that abad’s dismissal and the appointment of an able replacement would have done a lot to restore confidence and trust in the aquino administration and the government.
Even now, it could set the stage for a dramatic and activist final 22months of the Aquino presidency.
Absent theHyatt 10, Mar Roxas could finally find his bearings and launch a credible and single-minded campaign for the presidency.
Absent the hyatt 10, the Liberal Party could reorganize as a real political party with members and true believers.
Maybe life without Abad is the strategy that will work for roxas and the Liberal Party.