The sudden decision not to replace Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary of Ernesto Paje with former Bukidnon Representative Nereus Acosta exposes the ongoing power struggle behind the palace by the murky waters of the Pasig.
It seems that Mar Roxas, the losing vice presidential candidate of the Liberal Party, is consolidating his power base and is, in fact, being given the free hand to form his own “government” within the Aquino administration.
Fact is, the Aquino administration is on the verge of self-destruction due to the clash of differing groups inside the corridors of power. The once formidable pro-Aquino block has stagnated and in fact, fragmented into different fiefdoms, namely:
1. Ochoa Group or the Samar Group which is composed of close Aquino associates from way back. This is being led not just by the Executive secretary Paquito Ochoa but by Maria Montelibano and other members of the so-called “Kamaganak Incorporated”. Surprisingly, this group is partial to PDP-Laban instead of Liberal Party. This is the main target of Mar Roxas since the LP president blamed them and accused them of treachery (although not in public).
Fact is—this group, especially the block of Peping Cojuangco has publicly disengaged themselves from the Aquino administration. ONly those very close to the President remains (the Aquino sisters, bosom buddies and close associates). The block composed of COPA members have disengaged and are now formally aligned with PDP-Laban of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
2. The Hyatt 10 group (pro-Roxas)—This group is slowly getting real strong, what with the entry of Mar Roxas into the picture. Since being publicly announced as the president’s chief troubleshooter, a chief of staff of sorts who enjoys Presidential Management Staff powers, this group has slowly neutralized other groups inside the palace. There are news reports which show that the Hyatt 10 is willing to sacrifice Cesar Purisima for the sake of Roxas getting the Finance fortfolio at the same time, control both the political and the financial levers of government.
3. SLAMAT-LORRD Block— This is actually a group composed of members of the Liberal Party who opposed Roxas and is led by Senator Kiko Pangilinan. Remember that Kiko Pangilinan was the one who instigated the move to remove Roxas as the Liberal Party presidential candidate and replaced by Noynoy Aquino. It was this group, composed of Liberals aligned with the Leftist groups that is now slowly losing its grip of power. Sources say, they are now the target of a vendetta campaign by Roxas. This explains why Nereus Acosta’s planned assumption as DENR secretary did not push thru simply because, according to sources, Roxas personally opposed it. Roxas, they say, is neither a forgetful nor a forgiving man.
So, Roxas is now assuming pseudo-presidential powers without the legitimacy given by the People. With Roxas controlling like a puppeteer the fundamental levers of power, many of the pawns, knights and bishops working right now inside the palace will suffer the wrath of Roxas.