MANILA - Members of the Hyatt 10 disputed a report that they arm-twisted President Benigno Aquino III into keeping Budget Secretary Butch Abad despite the fallout from the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
"I firmly deny that there was such an effort by Hyatt 10," Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said in a text message.
In a separate text message, Abad said, "As far as I'm concerned, I tendered my resignation. As an act of propriety and decency and with all my sincerity, I tendered my resignation to the President and he turned it down. I deferred to his better judgment and decided to stay."
He added: "Except for VP Binay (Vice President Jejomar Binay), the Cabinet supported the president's decision. That's all there is to it."
Abad, allegedly the brains behind DAP, resigned from the Cabinet after the ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) that struck down the DAP.
Aquino turned it down, asserting that to do so would be to accept wrongdoing when there is none.
Abad, Deles, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Commission on Filipinos Overseas Secretary Imelda Nicolas, Local Water Utilities Administration Chairman Rene Villa, and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima are Aquino Cabinet members who belong to the so-called Hyatt 10 -- a group of Cabinet members of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who bolted in 2005 at the height of the "Hello, Garci" scandal.
The group also includes the late Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin, Trade Secretary Juan Santos, Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, and Internal Revenue Commissioner Guillermo Parayno.
Abad and Villa were education and agrarian reform secretaries under Arroyo. Nicolas led the National Anti-poverty Commission.
The Hyatt 10 called for Arroyo's resignation only days after they expressed support for her at the height of the Garci scandal, even leading the Cabinet in singing Diana Ross' "If We Hold on Together" as a gesture of unity.
After that, they allied themselves with Aquino in the run up to the 2010 presidential elections. They are now allied with members of the Liberal Party led by Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, himself a former member of the Arroyo administration.
Journalist-blogger Ellen Tordesillas, in a report, said that Abad's exit was sought by the sisters of Aquino -- Ballsy, Pinky and Kris -- but the Hyatt 10 prevailed upon the President to keep Abad or they will all leave.