Aquino should crack whip on feuding men

October 11, 2010

Angie Rosales
The Daily Tribune
October 11, 2010

A close ally of President Aquino said yesterday bitter infighting within the Palace circle is already affecting work inside Malacañang as he appealed to Aquino to “crack the whip” in marshalling his key officials.

Despite the denials by Palace officials, talks of alleged serious infighting in the Aquino administration persisted with Sen. Francis Pangilinan urging the Chief Executive to crack the whip on his ranks.

Pangilinan called for an end to the reported factionalism or power struggle among ranking officials in the Palace which is said to be already affecting paper works.

Aquino should stop playing “Mr. Nice Guy” and address the factions within his team to truly be able to move the country forward.

“He must crack the whip and tell all those surrounding him that given the serious problems facing the country, without unity there is no way his administration can succeed. I know he has it in him to do so, and now is the time to do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan, who served as campaign manager for senatorial candidates of Aquino in the Liberal Party (LP) during last May elections, earlier had cautioned the administration that factions could weigh down and overshadow its performance.

“My appeal to those who support him is that we need to learn to work with one another even if we dislike each other. It’s about time we acknowledge the existence of all

these factions and recognized the need to end it. It will have to start from the top, and I know the President will deliver and act to ensure that all his men will finally march to the same drumbeat,” he said.

Observers said Malacanang could not get its act together due to the ongoing factions in the official family and the issue to die down.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda who are said to be among those engaged in a clash, denied over the weekend the alleged power struggles within the close circle of Aquino.

Ochoa also denied reports that another Cabinet was operating as a shadow of the people officially appointed by the President.

“Our problems as a country are so serious that without unity we cannot succeed. Without unity we will fail to address corruption and poverty. Our country cries out for solutions, and for sacrifice to see these solutions through. We must all act towards achieving this regardless of the personal costs,” Pangilinan said.

Two major factions within the Palace, the Samar and the Balay groups, are said to be competing with each other in a vicious turf war.

The “Noy-Bi group” that supported an Aquino-Binay tandem in the last elections is now referred to as the “Samar Group” because of the location of its offices on Samar Street at the South Triangle in Quezon City during the campaign while Roxas’ group is being called tha “Balay Group” which is coined from the “Balay” of the Roxases in Cubao.

Closely identified with the “Balay Group” are the members of the so-called “Hyatt 10” and its ring of supporters while the “Samar Group” are composed of “loyalists” of the Aquino and Cojuangco families, Senator Francis Escudero and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad is part of the “Hyatt 10.” His wife Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad is the chairperson of the House committee on energy. Their daughter Julia Abad is head of the Presidential Management Staff which has full control of the presidential social fund. Another son is with the Department of Finance as chief of staff of Finance Sec. Cesar Purisima.

It was suspected that the many miscues of the Palace during the bungled hostage rescue on August 23 that resulted in the death of eight Hong Kong tourists was partly the result of the failure of the two factions to communicate with each other during the crucial monents of the crisis.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Rico Puno, who is being pinned as among those with culpability in the hostage crisis, has lately been claiming that forces within the Palace are also actively seeking his ouster.

The National Press Club of the Philippines (NPC), however, said that while it recognizes the right of Puno to cry out to defend his honor, but he must identify the mediamen he said are involved in illegal gambling or jueteng protection racket issue and name the public relations man who offered him a P15-million blitz to save his reputation.

Although there is no evidence presented to prove the allegations of Undersecretary Puno about mediamen’s participation, it is a reality that it has put in doubt the credibility of the media before the mind of the public. This is a stain on the cloth of innocent journalists.

It becomes doubly unfair when he did not have only evidence but also he did not specifically name those who are in the take.

The NPC has observed Puno to be exceedingly lacking in transparency. This is the first problem with him. This is the reason why his fix is getting tighter each day.

After Bishop Oscar Cruz of Pangasinan exposed that jueteng has remained strong and rampant because important men of President Noynoy Aquino have been on the take, Undersecretary Puno said he did not take anything from gambling but he admitted he was visited by several gambling lords and personalities involved in illegal gambling. He also said these persons lobbied to him to spare jueteng, although he claimed he did not give his “yes.” While he said this, he did not identify his visitors.

Then, he committed another act of lack of transparency during the Senate investigation. Pinned to name his visitors, he was compelled to present the logbook of persons who visited him at his office in the DILG and familiar names in jueteng showed up.

Now, he tried to be more transparent but he fell too short.

He has said there are five groups that are destroying him, identifying these as those belonging to the group of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, the Samar group, the Balay group, the group belonging to former President Arroyo, and the media.

Why cannot Puno name the specific names in those groups?

The NPC believes that if he cannot do so, the only logic available is that Puno is not telling the truth.

He should be fair to the President, to the people who elected the President, and to the mediamen who are mere observers and reporters of what transpired.

Do not blame. Name names!

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