Cruz cutting cleanly?

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 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.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

33 thoughts on “Cruz cutting cleanly?

  1. Just heard Art Defensor and Prospero Nograles pretty much throwing in the towel on Con-Ass. They know that chacha is out of time.

    I think I have also found the reason why “unicameral Con-Ass” is D.O.A. It has to do with the FORM in which a petition for plebiscite to the Comelec has to be submitted when Congress invokes Art XVII Sec 1(1). That FORM is a JOINT RESOLUTION by “the Congress”. A House Resolution, even if signed by all 236 members would be INSUFFICIENT in FORM because it would not be an Act of “the Congress”. Even if it is not an ordinary law like renaming a street or the national budget, it is NOT signatories, the “three-fourths of all its Members” that “may propose amendments to or revisons of the Constitution”, but “the Congress” itself.

  2. Maid Miriam as CJ of the SC? We will really have a schizophrenic court. Can we afford a court with a split personality?

    As for Nonong Cruz, best decision he ever made. I could understand why he did it. But if I were Gloria, I would retain people like Cruz and dump the likes of Ermita and Gonzales whose personalities are dominating her cabinet. They’re causing Gloria a lot of embarassment by their positions and statements.

    Gloria is really in deep shit.

  3. HERE’S THE SKINNY on Nonong Cruz:Sec. Nonong Cruz graduated salutatorian (cum laude) from the University of the Philippines, College of Law in 1977 and placed 7th in the Bar Examinations of the same year. He also finished B.S. Mathematics from the Ateneo de Manila University. As a student leader during the Martial law, he served as President of the UP Law Student Government and the Ateneo Student Council. He was also Senior Editor of the The Philippine Collegian and a member of the editorial board of The Guidon.

    A lawyer-mathematician-national security expert who can write, and who just told the Taray Queen to eat his quit-mark.

    Hmmm, I like this guy already!

  4. Nobody can survive the SNAKE PIT in MALACANANG …
    It’s a BIG LOSS to our NATION, Kakaunti na nga lang ang
    HONORABLE Men in Cabinet, nabawasan pa ?

    TAMA lang ang ginawa ni CRUZ, hayaan mo na sina GONZALES
    ERMITA at DEFENSOR ang matira at SAMA SAMA na silang

    what this NATION needs … So JUSTICE can be serve and the
    Fake and Evil Empire of GLORIA would be ANNIHILATED !!!

  5. Really? The americans are happy with Cruz?

    Well, if Miriam will be the next Chief Justice, she could surely use psychological tactics whenever she will be forced to react on pending SC Decisions, like “jumping a plane without a parachute” 😀

  6. Earl,
    Here is more from thePalace Website:Sec. Nonong Cruz later worked closely with DND and AFP officials as well as their US counterparts in connection with the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA). In 2003, he was again assigned to oversee the drafting of the Terms of Reference for Balikatan 03-1 and was later instructed by the President to leave for Washington, D.C. to thresh out the issues surrounding the planned military exercises. He later met with Admiral Thomas Fargo, Commander of the Pacific Area Command.

    Aside from his work relating to the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US, Sec. Cruz is also well-versed with UN Security Council Resolutions and other international agreements on terrorism. He has counseled the President on various legal options that were considered in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US and the subsequent kidnappings perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf. He also reviewed proposed legislative measures to combat terrorism submitted to Congress and is well acquainted with the findings and recommendations in the Feliciano Report and the previous Davide Report on the modernization needs in the AFP.

  7. I don’t see why Cruz was considered a moderate. He was pro-ROTC, so not much different from Noberto Gonzalez and his ilk

  8. “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.” – – – Ernest Wilson, “An Important Election, Times 4”

    “(Noted neocon activist and Pentagon insider, Kenneth) Adelman believes that neoconservatism itself—what he defines as “the idea of a tough foreign policy on behalf of morality, the idea of using our power for moral good in the world”—is dead, at least for a generation.” – – – David Rose, “Neo Culpa” from Vanity Fair

    “I spend the better part of two weeks in conversations with some of the most respected voices among the neoconservative elite. What I discover is that none of them is optimistic. All of them have regrets, not only about what has happened but also, in many cases, about the roles they played. Their dismay extends beyond the tactical issues of whether America did right or wrong, to the underlying question of whether exporting democracy is something America knows how to do.” – – – David Rose, “Neo Culpa” from Vanity Fair

    As evidenced by this weekend’s foray into Africa, China is now moving aggressively into extending aid and wooing other countries with bilateral ties. Failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, failure to bring peace to the Middle East, failure to curb North Korea, all raise questions about the credibility of U.S. policies.

    As for the American middle class, my experience with friends and relatives in the U.S. is that most of them have bet everything on real estate. Those who have bought houses or some property take comfort in the tremendous increase in property values over the past several years. Very few of them have real cash, but the fact that their homes are worth several times more than what they bought them for, gives them satisfaction and security. I dread to think what would happen to middle class Americans if the real estate market were to crash. I know very many Americans who plan to use their real estate nest egg for retirement. Of course, they also have social security and health insurance, which offer some peace of mind. However, even those may be gone in a few years if government doesn’t address the deficits.

  9. “I couldn’t read him,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t know where his loyalties lay.”

    Nobody, except himself could either read this Mr. Gonzalez! Asking where Secretary Cruz loyalties lay is like asking “You’re either with us, or not”. The chloice is simple; between serving a dysfunctional administration, whose legitimacy is in question for so long, getting feed with all the half truths or half lies, take your pick or maybe a party to such; a government which is either half trusted or half mistrusted by its subjects and here we have a Justice Secretary asking his counterpart where his loyalties lay? Secrretary Gonzalez, somewwhere between your two ears, there is a white substance inside the protective bones, called skull, use it..

  10. mlq3,

    An Irrevocable Withdrawal of Support is what Defense Sec Cruz’s irrevocable resignation means.

    “I felt it was time to go.” is ambiguous. It could mean “I felt it was time for you to go, Madam President.”

  11. Defense Sec Cruz’s resignation surprised everyone. But the next move makes the difference.

    Now, on the spot:
    1)Sec Cruz: To be or not to be a crusader for reform, realizing that the President and her loyalists are the most serious enemies of real reform and the most dangerous threat to national security.
    2)Pres GMA: To appoint or not to appoint an ex-military man as DND Secretary. Loyalty is her top requirement; blind loyalty, her preference.
    3)The People: To be or not to be – outraged – outraged at the deceitfulness of the President, her deceitful economics, deceitful politics and deceitful allies.
    4)The Officers and Soldiers of the AFP: To defend or not to defend the Constitution; to follow or not to follow the lead of Defense Sec Cruz – to fight for reforms in the AFP and the government as a whole.

  12. one of the first to lament the loss of nonong cruz was congressman chiz. as disaster chief, the congressman said that nonong cruz help his typhoon devastated area. he was, in effect, saying that the sec knew no party lines when it came to public service unlike mike d. the latter was shown by anc as saying that opposition to the prez will result in having “no pondo.” sayang nga si cruz. mabuhay po kayo sir nonong!

  13. Sen. Santiago for the CJ seat?

    Wow. It might be interesting to read her DISSENTING OPINIONs if she makes them!

  14. Watched the Prestige already. Many twists espescially the flashbacks.

    Good film though I wish it had a happier ending for all concerned.

    Batman vs Wolverine and the one with real magic lost!

  15. The SND’s resignation is a great loss. The position is very critical considering it involves the defense & security of the nation. The timing is not favorable as the nation enters the situation when an scheduled election is not certain to happen because of the issue of charter change. Poor Philippines, when will you wake up to start solving all your critical problems. It is good that politicians seem to have forgotten blaming the strongman Marcos on what’s going on in RP now.

  16. Social Security will not go away. No US President or Congress will allow it. Anyone who touches Social Security will commit political suicide.

    Judgement Day 2006 tomorrow!

  17. Recto on Quezon:
    “His heirs have his faults without his virtues.
    “He did not overstep the line, for he had a conscience…His heirs have none.”
    How true, how true. This truth applies from Marcos to the present administration.

  18. Justice League,
    But the movie had a perfectly wonderfully happy ending! BOTH magicians lived. ALL the villains died, along with SOME of the heroes and innocent victims. Justice was done and everything worked as advertised.

    The Pledge:You will see Nikola Tesla’s Machine perform a miracle.

    The Turn:Loving father magician is framed, tried, convicted, hanged.

    The Prestige:Loving father magician instantly reappears to claim his daughter who has been rescued from the aristocratic clutches of … the Real Magician of the Movie … who has indeed performed a superb Magic Trick.

    But how is the trick done if you do NOT assume that Nikola Tesla’s Machine actually works?

  19. DJB,

    Was there a scene after the credits again? Did the aristocrat die? I thought he was shot?

    I never thought that Tesla’s machine worked till the end part.

  20. Everything involving Nikola Tesla comes as a flashback based on the diary given to Freddy while he is awaiting sentence and execution by the Aristocrat, –“Lord Kurdlow or Cordrow”– and alleged to be that of the Great Danton. Thus, all that happens in America to the Great Danton involving Tesla and the agents of Thomas Alva Edison in the quaint lil town of colorado springs (where I have some old friends still living to this day!)–it’s all made up for Freddy to discover how he had been framed by the man whose wife he’d tied a funny knot on. But it’s not really Freddy that is hanged. It is his poor double, dedicated to the Magicians Art to the death!

    The most poignant scene in the movie for me is when he tosses the lil red rubber ball to the real Freddy, as he himself is led away to die. It was the ball the double had shown to Freddy’s daughter when she arrived with the Aristocrat/Danton for seemingly the last time and he promised her he would come back to her. And of course he does! With the help of the Great Danton’s own assistant, and the ultimate sacrifice of his dearest friend.

    But I am truly unsure about one thing: was it the Aristocrat or the Great Danton who is in that last powerful scene of the movie?

    Or did Nikola Tesla invent Star Trek in the 19th Century?

  21. im a bit surprised at how the opposition is trying to ride on sec. cruz’s resignation. i remember that they were pretty unhappy with him being appointed as presidential legal counsel then simply because he came from “the firm”. i hope sec. cruz doesnt allow himself to be used by these people.

  22. elinca,

    A curious phenomenon: GMA seems to be have acquired, through inheritance or by emulation, the faults of famous and infamous leaders without their virtues. Her father’s double talking, Marcos’ arrogance, Cory’s indecisiveness, FVR’s con artistry, Erap’s lack of moral scruples, Hitler’s cold-blooded pragmaticism, even FDR’s ‘deviousness’.

  23. “I couldn’t read him,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t know where his loyalties lay.”

    Well, I think I know. Nonong Cruz is loyal to the Filipino people, the Constitution, the rule of law, democracy, all the good things that GMA abhors.

  24. jimmy, wasn’t ‘Mini-me’ a distillation of all the bad traits of Dr. Evil? Maybe a similar dynamic is at work here.

  25. cvj,

    Well, if survivalism has become the ideoloy of GMA’s Strong Republic-Enchanted Kingdom, the ‘bad traits’ do become more developed not only in the leader but also among her minions-legions. In-fighting and cannibalism will be more frequent as they jockey for position and when their survival is at stake. Atty Avelino Cruz’s quick ‘irrevocable’ escape might have saved him. What relief his family must have felt. Welcome back Nonong.

  26. A cabinet secretary is alter ego of the president. As such he must have the requisite loyalty to maintain the president’s full trust and confidence, no more, no less. It was just proper for Mr. Cruz to resign given that he could no longer fulfill that requirement. To his own credit, his refusal to badmouth, at least initially, his former boss (unlike the treacherous Stinky Soliman and her infamous “Hyatt 10” cohorts) is a class act, despite the intrigue from the anti-Gloria club. I don’t think it is right for anyone to make a monumental “disaster” out of this routine matter, considering that even cabinet members have their own personal interests to serve. Cabinet members come and go in every administration. It’s really no big deal except to those who want to make political capital out of the situation.

  27. Amen, I say to you Titanium. The Hate-GMA marauders are foaming in the mouth spinning and depicting Cruz’ resignation as “escape” from hell. Funny but these anti-Gloria group (other than applauding such action as heroic rejection of an ‘evil’ regime) never say anything about loyalty-challenged and treachery-inclined individuals (such as the infamous ‘Hyatt 10’) who after drinking from the fountain of power polluted it with all the vitriol they could muster. Like Diogenes searching for an honest man, PGMA, or any other president, would have a hard time finding a person worthy of trust in today’s Philippine world of politics.

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