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Aquino sisters wanted Abad out; Hyatt 10 came to his rescue

Commentary

By Ellen T. Tordesillas

Aquino sisters with BinayFrom our always reliable source : A few days after the Supreme Court declared parts of the Disbursement Accelerated Program or DAP unconstitutional last July 1, the three presidential sisters- Ballsy Cruz, Pinky Abellada, and Kris Aquino (Viel Dee didn’t join them) talked with the President to let go of Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad.

As we all know by now, DAP- the issue that has shaken the otherwise Teflon presidency of Benigno Aquino III-was the brainchild of Abad.

The Supreme Court’s vote was unanimous (13-0) stunning Malacañang who had thought it would be 7-6 in their favor.

At the time his sisters talked to him about Abad, Aquino had not issued any statement on DAP yet. The source said the President appeared convinced by his sisters.

Abad’s comrades in the cabinet were alarmed and they took action.

Social Services Secretary Dinky Soliman; Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima; Teresita Quintos Deles, presidential adviser on the Peace Process, and Mely Nicolas, chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (the core group of the 2005 Hyatt 10) went to Aquino and appealed for Abad’s retention.

But it was a loaded appeal because they told the President if he let go of Abad, they will all resign.

Hyatt 10 coreThe President gave in. On July 11, during the cabinet meeting on the 2015 budget, he announced that Abad will stay. “To accept his resignation is to assign to him a wrong. And I can’t accept the notion that doing right by our people is a wrong,” he said to the applause of members of his cabinet except Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is part of the cabinet as chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.

The next day, July 12, Abad released a statement disclosing that he tendered his resignation July 10. On the President’s rejection of his resignation, Abad said: “Although I was wholly prepared to relinquish my post, I am grateful for the President’s expression of his continuing trust and confidence in my leadership of the Department. I have thus chosen to defer to his better judgment and stay.”

The presidential sisters attempt to influence the President’s decision on Abad brought to fore once again the great divide in Aquino’s political family.

It is known that the Aquino sisters are lukewarm to the Mar Roxas faction, where Abad belongs. In the 2010 elections, the sisters were with the Noy-Bi (Aquino-Binay) faction.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Kris Aquino likes the idea of his brother endorsing Binay in the 2016 presidential election to the horror of Liberal Party stalwarts, who, up to now, pin their hopes on Roxas.

That was another masterstroke that Binay did last Monday: announcing that he has received information that the ruling Liberal Party was considering adopting him to be its standard bearer in the 2016 elections. (The other masterstroke of Binay was infiltrating the Liberal Party campaign in 2010. In the same building where LP had their headquarters, there was a room distributing Noy-Bi campaign materials.)

Senate President Franklin Drilon, LP vice- chairman vehemently denied Binay’s claim. LP issued a statement underscoring that the party is against “corruption, patronage and self-serving ambition.” The unwritten message:Binay is the epitome of what they are fighting against.

But Kris Aquino said she and her sisters are open to Binay succeeding her brother: "Kami ng mga sister ko naman pinag-uusapan namin yan. Sinasabi namin puwede naman talagang magkaroon ng unity at puwedeng kung ano kasi hindi naman kami magkaaway. At kung ipagpapatuloy naman niya lahat ng nasimulan ni Noy, why not?(My sisters and I discussed this. We said it’s possible to have unity and we are not really fighting. If he (Binay) would continue what Noy has started, why not?)," she said in her TV show.

In a separate TV interview, she said:"I don't make a secret of the fact that one of my closest friends is his (Binay's) daughter Anne, and we pray together.”

The eldest sister, Ballsy agreed with Kris: “You know, he never said anything bad about my family at pati na rin sa ibang partido, kaya ako ay natutuwa na ganoon ang pakiramdam niya. Kung yun din naman ang kanyang hangarin, na maipagpatuloy ang mga nasimulan ni Noy , e di magaling. (…I’m happy that that’s how he feels. If that his desire, to continue what Noy has started, good.)”

I think if Roxas decides to push through with his presidential bid despite low popularity ratings, Aquino will be compelled to endorse him but he will not prevent his sisters, relatives and members of his cabinet like Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to support Binay.

Under the Binay presidency, Aquino will be amply protected. He will not suffer the fate of Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo.

Aquino will have his cake and eat it too. Some people are damn lucky.

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