Hypocrisy happens

There is now a growing movement calling for the resignation of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, the supposed mentor of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and the most prominent Executive official named in her definitive “Napolist” affidavit of beneficiaries and enablers. Abad has not given any indication that he will quit his position any time soon, which is really a mystery to me.

There was a time, after all, when Abad resigned simply because he apparently could not stomach reports that a government he was serving in was not as righteous as he was. This was in 2005, when this same Abad, then serving as education secretary in the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, joined the so-called “Hyatt 10” in quitting en masse.

Abad joined Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development; the late Emilia Boncodin, secretary of the Department of Budget and Management; Cesar Purisima, secretary of the Department of Finance; Rene Villa, secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform; Juan Santos, secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry; Imelda Nicolas, head of the National Anti-Poverty Commission; Guillermo Parayno, commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue; Alberto Lina, commissioner of the Bureau of Customs; and Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, at the Hyatt in Pasay City in the event that now still bears that hotel’s name.

Many of the members of Hyatt 10 have been recycled into officials of this self-righteous administration, which they helped install after turning their back on Arroyo.

Abad was obviously not involved in the “Hello Garci” scandal, which was precipitated by alleged telephone calls made by Arroyo to an election official in Maguindanao province, whom she reportedly asked to cheat for her during the 2004 presidential elections. Like the other “Hyatters,” Abad was supposed to have quit simply because he was scandalized by reports that the government he was serving in was capable of stealing an election.

Abad was morally outraged by l’affaire Garci and, like his comrades at the Hyatt, earned high praise for his very well-developed sense of propriety.

How times have changed.

Now Abad is at the epicenter of charges that Napoles was able to steal not an election but boatloads of taxpayers’ funds through a scam involving his department, a few selected agencies and a whole mess of members of both Houses of Congress. Abad was even named by Napoles herself as her mentor in the scam and his department is in charge of all the fund releases for projects whose funding ended up in Napoles’ and the lawmakers’ commodious pockets.

Yet Abad is not moving an inch. What happened to his sense of propriety and his easily scandalized nature in the years since Hyatt 10?

* * *

Understand, I am not saying that Abad is as guilty as Napoles herself alleges. All I’m saying is, if Abad could resign from the Cabinet because he was scandalized by the “Hello Garci” flap (which I assume he had no direct knowledge about), how can he hang on to his post when he himself is being accused of aiding and abetting the principal suspect in the biggest corruption scandal of all by that person herself?

This is hypocrisy. And, as someone once said, “saan siya kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha?”

Of course, things are a little different for Abad these days. For one thing, two of his children are now employed by the government in sensitive, finance-related positions while his wife, who replaced him in his old Congress seat representing Batanes, is also vice-chairman of the powerful House committee on appropriations.

If Abad resigns because he is being linked to the pork barrel scam, imagine the pressure to do the same on his wife Henedina (from her House committee post, which identifies projects that the Executive should fund), daughter Julia (whose job as Presidential Management Staff head has supervision over the presidential “pork” called the social fund) and his son Luis Andres (chief of staff of Hyatter Finance Secretary Purisima).

And Abad’s resignation will only exert pressure, as well, on his fellow Hyatt travelers Purisima, Soliman and Deles, who are still serving the Aquino government and who, like Abad during the Garci controversy, probably had nothing to do with the current scandal. Will they quit with Abad and give us Hyatt 4?

(Will Harvey Keh, the Black and White Movement and all the other so-called crusaders for good government back then, who are so eerily quiet these days when the administration they worked so hard to install is being accused of corruption, sing praises for any new Hyatt movement? Will Senate President Franklin Drilon, the original Hyatt 10’s ex-officio lawmaker-member who is also being linked to Napoles, resign again as Senate head after inviting President Noynoy Aquino to Iloilo?)

These are all the things that have to be considered if Abad quits or—even more unlikely—if he is fired by Aquino. I’m guessing, though, that neither is going to happen, unless a true sense of righteousness motivated the Hyatt 10 nearly a decade ago, and not just political opportunism.

See, this is what happens when an administration that promises honest and incorruptible governance has its hand caught in a pork-larded cookie jar. Hypocrisy happens at the exact same time.

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