Yesterday afternoon the word quickly spread and hogs the headlines today: Avelino Cruz, Jr. has resigned the defense portfolio. The Palace has decided to stonewall and its normally aggressive spin machine seems to have stalled, not least because there’s no obvious replacement. The intramurals within the cabinet went public and then wouldn’t go away.
The absence of reasons to justify his resignation is unusual; all he’s said is, “I felt it was time to go.” All that can be inferred from both -the absence of even the traditional face-saving reasons, e.g. health or family, his comment to the Star– is that a line has been reached, beyond which Cruz isn’t prepared to go.
What could that line be?
The Inquirer story (which has an interesting tidbit from Senator Drilon, that Cruz objected to, and blocked, the imposition of martial law last January) near the end makes it clear that Cruz wasn’t viewed as loyal -and fanatical- enough by some other cabinet members:
Gonzalez said he was with Ms Arroyo on Friday night and there was no mention of Cruz planning to abandon ship.
“Something must have happened within the next 48 hours,” Gonzalez said.
Cruz seemed to strike Gonzalez as an enigma.
“I couldn’t read him,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t know where his loyalties lay.”
It remains to be seen how wide and politically harmful, the fallout from the Cruz resignation will be. By all accounts, Cruz was quite serious about the reforms he was overseeing in the Department of National Defense. He’d also stated he was adamant about not allowing the armed forces to be tainted by election monkey business next year.
So the immediate concerns that the President will have to address are: Uncle Sam, who subsidizes our armed forces, will be unhappy (the were very impressed with Cruz). The Philippine Army’s dominance over the rest of the armed forces, and the Chief of Staff’s power and direct access to a President who relies on his loyalty, will be increased; one obstacle to using the armed forces for electoral shenanigans, whether in an election or a plebiscite, has just disappeared; and within the cabinet, one supposed voice for moderation has been eliminated and the siege/bunker mentality in the Palace has gotten that much fiercer (from The Black and White Movement comes news that Philippine National Oil Corporation President Eduardo Manalac also recently resigned).
The House of Representatives gears up for the big push: caucuses aplenty over the next couple of days; the Speaker remains defiant; Fidel V. Ramos has been waning so long when it comes to his various enthusiasms, he should be declared the incredible shrinking man of Philippine politics.
The next chief justice will be Miriam? Executive Secretary Ermita is non-commital. Whoever is chief justice will affect the Speaker’s ability to find wiggle room.
In other news, the country has a new province, its 80th: Shariff Kabunsuan, the first province that doesn’t owe its existence to the legislature. And angry nuns in Butuan.
Overseas, Arab reactions to the verdict on Saddam. The Guardian recounts why the trial lost credibility. Vanity Fair takes a look at Neoconservatives who have ended up denouncing George Bush, Jr.
In the punditocracy, my column for today is Noblesse Prestige. See the bottom of the online column for links to related sites.
Bong Austero has an interesting take on the jockeying for chief justice. Amando Doronila thinks it’s unwise to discount the possibility that Miriam Santiago just might get the job.
Neal Cruz and Fel Maragay both take a look at the far-from-inspiring senatorial lineup of the opposition (but if you are unhappy with it, take a look at what the administration has to offer -no one).
Max Soliven thinks the Cebu International Convention Center is an accident waiting to happen.
In the blogosphere, Vincula thinks Cruz owes the country an apology -or a repudiation of the President. Philippine Commentary is of the opinion a tectonic shift’s taken place, politically, and it involves the armed forces, Mga Diskurso ni Doy looks at whether Cruz’s former (and future?) law firm should be thanked for the Supreme Court’s recent decision. Iloilo City Boy lays out the political landscape.
American bloggers focus on the midterm elections: Tsunami Tuesday, History Unfolding puts it. Take a look at the emerging surveys in Election 2006, and what the projections, based on survey results, mean and how they were arrived at in Pollster.com and Political Arithmetik. There’s trusty ole Slate, too. Ernest Wilson says a larger trend is emerging, if one looks at recent election is Brazil, Congo, and Venezuela:
Brazil, Congo and Venezuela are not alone in the great disappointments their populations feel with the weak results of conventional neo-classical fixes to economic growth and social inequality. Throughout Latin America and the Middle East discontent is jumping to the surface, propelled in part by the waves of democratization that continue to wash through the developing world. (India and China, by contrast, have seen better growth.) But the lives that taxi drivers, teachers and brick layers live in Cairo, Lagos, and Mexico City are no better than they were 20 years ago. They expected more for themselves and their families, and their economies are failing to deliver. So far most are taking out their anger at the polls. But as we know all too well, some pent-up discontent gets channeled through far more lethal means. Whether we like or dislike Lula, Chavez or the next ruler of the Congo is beside the point. They reflect worrisome deeper trends…The American middle classes themselves have known little economic growth, especially in the lower ranks. They know what it is like to be promised more in the midst of plenty, and they know what it is like when the real take home pay doesn’t reflect the rhetoric.
And tomorrow, on The Explainer, our mixed record with plebiscites.
Technorati Tags: constitution, law, military, philippines, politics, president, Washington DC