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Palace: Hyatt 10 still 10? Dinky: More than 10

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
First Posted 00:12:00 07/09/2006

Filed Under: Government, Politics

Published on page A1 of the July 9, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

IS the so-called ?Hyatt 10? still 10-strong?

This was Malacaang?s retort yesterday to the 10 Cabinet secretaries and government executives who continue to question the legitimacy of President Macapagal-Arroyo a year after announcing their collective resignation at the Hyatt hotel, citing loss of confidence in her ability to lead the country.

?The Hyatt 10 continues to vilify the President and make pompous claims of what it can do to challenge the administration without even identifying [its members],? Gabriel Claudio, Ms Arroyo?s adviser on political affairs, said in reference to the group?s one-page advertisement titled ?We Can Do It Again? and run in yesterday?s issue of the Inquirer.

The advertisement carried a heading at the end that read ?Holding You Accountable To The Nat10n,? but not the names of the members of the group.

?We dare the Hyatt 10 to tell the public if there are, in fact, still 10 of them, and who they are,? Claudio said.

Reached on the phone for comment, former Social Welfare Secretary Corazon ?Dinky? Soliman said the Hyatt 10 was not only ?intact? but also ?more than 10 already.?

She cited Nini Quezon-Avancea, National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, Bishop Deogracias Iiguez and the ?more than 200? other persons who had filed or signed impeachment complaints against Ms Arroyo.

The other members of Hyatt 10, who all quit their posts exactly a year ago yesterday, are ex-Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, ex-Trade Secretary Juan Santos, ex-Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin, ex-Education Secretary Florencio Abad, ex-Agrarian Reform Secretary Rene Villa, ex-Peace Adviser Teresita ?Ging? Deles, ex-National Anti-Poverty Commission chair Imelda Nicolas, ex-Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, and ex-Internal Revenue chief Guillermo Parayno.

Claudio claimed that some of them had either distanced themselves from the group or sent feelers to the administration. But he refused to name them.

?Unless they can at least show that they themselves are intact, they have no business making arrogant but false assertions representing the people and maligning the President,? he said, adding:

?They have failed, not once, but many times. They will fail again.?

?All are victims?

Soliman, however, said: ?No one is a victor; all of us are victims of this downward spiral of poverty and cynicism due to Malacaang?s strategy of political survival at all cost.?

She also said the statement contained in the advertisement was the product of ?full consultation? among all 10 members of the group.

?Nothing has changed,? she said, adding that despite the members? going separate ways, their constant communication with one another was ?a continuing manifestation of our commitment.?

Asked whether Villa, who was in Spain at the time of Ms Arroyo?s recent state visit there, was still part of the group, Soliman said: ?Very much so.?

She said that Villa was in Spain at the instance of his client, a Spanish corporation, and that although he was still currently in Paris, he was aware of and in agreement with the Hyatt 10 statement and its contents.

Election fraud

In the advertisement, the Hyatt 10 said in part: ?Over time, despite the suppression of efforts to get to the bottom of the ongoing crisis, this much is clear: Widespread irregularities and illegal use of public funds attended the victory of Arroyo in the 2004 elections, extensive cover-up was perpetuated to hide the fraud and authoritarian measures were employed to stifle protest by an enraged citizenry.?

The group pushed for the amendment of specific provisions of the Constitution to enable a full revamp of the Commission on Elections, the holding of a ?snap? election for the presidency, and the election of delegates to a constitutional convention along with other candidates in the May 2007 elections.

It called for a ceasefire and the strengthening of the foundation for peace negotiations with communist insurgents, with a joint declaration of key forces to abide by ground rules to ensure that the process would be without violence and fraud.

The Hyatt 10 also said the Arroyo administration had endorsed a ?bogus people?s initiative? to amend the Constitution, raised the ?communist bogey,? and shifted from a peaceful to a militarist approach to end the insurgency as another diversionary ploy.

Claudio, however, did not dwell on any of the Hyatt 10?s recommendations.

?Give country a break?

Apart from questioning whether the Hyatt 10 still had its numbers, Claudio also wondered why opposition lawmakers were pushing on with the impeachment case against Ms Arroyo when they themselves had conceded to not having the required votes to carry this through to the Senate.

?In the wake of admissions of the opposition that they do not have the numbers to impeach the President, we appeal to them to quit and give the country a break,? he said.

Claudio claimed that as in last year, the opposition would not be able to muster enough votes at the House of Representatives to get the impeachment case rolling.

?Their case is rehashed and worn-out and is not supported by the public. There is no outrage out there nor appreciation and sympathy from the people for what they are doing. The only honorable and patriotic thing for them to do is to give the country a respite from politics,? he said.

The opposition needs 78 votes to have a complaint sent directly to the opposition-dominated Senate, which can then hold an impeachment trial.

Last year?s impeachment bid mustered only 51 votes.

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