Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Secretary Avelino Cruz Sacrificed at the Altar of Politics

The untimely resignation of Secretary Avelino Cruz from the Department of National Defense portfolio will put into uncertainty the reform program which he effectively implemented in the DND-AFP, setting back the drive towards enhancing professionalism in the Armed Forces. It is one resignation that the administration will definitely hurt from, with the loss of a reliable adviser to the President and an effective head of an agency that is often at the forefront of controversy and difficult challenges.

Although at this point, people can only speculate the reasons behind the resignation, the recent statements of senior administration officials indicate that Secretary Cruz’s position regarding Charter Change appear to have earned the castigation by fellow cabinet officials, putting pressure on him to resign.

It is sad that in spite of having performed exceptionally as a Defense Department chief, Secretary Cruz is sacrificed at the altar of politics by his own colleagues in the administration.

This now puts into question if Secretary Cruz’s plans and efforts to insulate the military from politics will come into fruition. Will his departure from the department due to politics pave the way for politics to permeate the military come the 2007 elections?

Will it also pave the way for politicians who are lusting for the post of Secretary of National Defense to start jockeying for the position? What about the reforms that Secretary Cruz initiated? Will it be carried on by his successor?

These questions are being asked not just by the usual political observers and analysts. Most especially, it is being asked by the soldiers, who have been through a lot of intrigues and tugs of war in the intense political bickering that this country faced in the past year.

It is imperative that when President Arroyo chooses a replacement for Secretary Cruz, she will pick someone who has not been tainted by politics, one who does not have a political agenda and political baggage, and someone who has unquestionable credibility in the soldiers’ eyes and untarnished integrity.

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