deadliest deadline

meandering thoughts on the beat

Monday, November 06, 2006

the crux of Cruz

When Avelino Cruz was appointed to the defense portfolio, the office immediately ordered me to do a story on the new defense chief and what he had planned for the department. i no longer remember how i was able to contact him. but a few days later, i was able to sit down with him for the interview. i didn't find him particularly engaging, which should come as no surprise since we had only met, but he was quick with his answers (he is after all, a lawyer). he already had a clear idea of what he wanted to do at the department. most of what he told me that day was exactly what he had set out to do. insulate the military from politics, train and equip the men in the field, and to take a second look at the RSBS. later, during my frequent incursions into the defense beat as a pinch-hitter i ran into him and he asked me what i had been up to for the past few months. i told him i had just gotten married and joked about thinking of asking him to stand as a sponsor. "so why didn't you ask me?" he said. i muttered something like i was lacking time so i wasn't able to ask him. he gave me that half-smile that seemed half-congratulatory and half you-should-have-told-me. funny. i feel strongly for the issues involved in my beats but rarely for the people at the head of these departments. but i felt sorry to see Sec. Cruz go. obviously, he has done a lot and could have done more. i believe the stand he took against people's initiative was one borne out of his own convictions that it was a flawed way to amend the Constitution. the big mistake of some Cabinet members was to blame him for the failure of the people's initiative to get by the Supreme Court. Malacanang after all is a snake pit and the vipers can be unleashed against even one of their own, even one as industrious as Cruz. the situation must have looked untenable to him, so much so as to consider leaving. based on my interviews with people close to Cruz, the President herself was not so much sold on the people's initiative despite what people might think. i find that a little hard to believe but i am not closed to that possibility. he seems upset that Cabinet members are blaming him for the debacle that was the people's initiative. and he did what any cornered animal does, he came out swinging. the squabbling that occured after Cruz left has bells ringing in my mischevous mind. Raul Gonzales was obviously one of Cruz's critics and wanted the people's initiative so badly. just read his body language and in between the lines of his statements. Mike Defensor seems not so much as Cruz's friend as he is an adversary of Gonzales. if Cruz is really as close to GMA as some would want to believe, given Mike's blind loyalty to GMA, and given the theory that GMA was not really hot on the people's initiative, then somehow things are clearer to me. the squabbling had to come to the fore somehow. then there is the opposition's statements inviting Cruz to run under their ticket. i thought that was particuarly funny. Cruz still does not have any recall to win a national elections. i dont even think he is taking that invitation seriously. i am guessing he would return to the practice of law. and what of Cruz's replacement? names like norberto gonzalez, jun ebdane and larry mendoza have been bandied about. sadly, the last two are former generals and the first just isnt good enough to fit into Cruz's shoes. either of the three assuming the defense portfolio will bring the defense department to just about square one.