Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror November 8, 2006 edition, p. A6.
A Monday night conversation with a friend from Malacañang:
“Was Cruz fired or did he resign?” I asked.
“Resigned? Fired? The Hyatt 10 did not resign, they were fired. Cruz was not fired, he resigned. What difference does it make, he’s outta here isn’t he?” he replied. “Mrs. Gloria Arroyo was personally offended when Antonio Carpio called the people’s initiative a gigantic fraud. How angry do you think she was when she read her trusted aide called her people’s initiative a legally harebrained idea tailor-made to suit a particular agenda?”
“Angrier than Luli Arroyo, who was not recognized by an airport immigration officer?” I joked.
“I’m serious,” he reminded me. “Cruz was fed up with the heavy-handed style of Malacañang. He had been complaining about it for months. The disgusto began last January when he objected to the plan to declare martial law.”
“He must have also believed declaring martial law was legally harebrained and the-cut- and-paste Proclamation 1017 was tailor-made to suit a particular agenda,” I added.
“Maybe,” he replied.
“Well, I never saw him on TV or read about him defending Proclamation 1017 when the police were bashing heads, arresting people left and right (no pun intended) and breaking into newspaper offices, did you?” I asked.
“But his exit surprised Mike Defensor,” he protested.
I replied, “Well, it’s true Mike said, ‘It’s surprising, I just spoke with him two days ago and there was no mention of any resignation.’ But he also said, ‘It could have been because things have become unbearable for him.’ So he was half-expecting Cruz to
“Okay, I’ll tell you what he found unbearable,” he said. And he began to tick off the reasons.
“Raul Gonzalez: ‘I think there is big law firm that is cheering . . . that they defeated Malacañang.’
Raul Gonzalez: ‘I don’t think I said that … Ang sabi ko, mukhang ganoon nga. But I never directly said The Firm should be blamed.’
Raul Gonzalez: ‘But you can read what had happened—na iyon ay mismong appointee ng Presidente, pagkatapos he’s the head of the law firm which has been identified with them (the First Family)for a long time.'”
“Plus,” my friend added, “Gabby Claudio: ‘In small circles within the Cabinet, and with me, Secretary Cruz did speak about his disagreement with the people’s initiative. Nothing wrong with that, I guess.’
Gabby Claudio: ‘His advice and candidness, as long as they are confined within the Cabinet, are valued as always.'”
I interrupted my friend’s litany and asked him, “Can she still change his mind and make him stay?“
“No,” he said, “and here’s why.” And he began another litany.
“Raul Gonzalez: ‘He is somehow a great loss to the Cabinet but you have to make a distinction on a person’s capability and his incompatibility with his boss.’
Raul Gonzalez : ‘I couldn’t read him, I didn’t know where his loyalties lay.’
Raul Gonzalez : ‘He might think he has enemies but personally I don’t know
I interrupted him again. “Aren’t you giving too much credit to a couple of harebrains?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “a lot of people besides those Cabinet officials who said they were not his enemies wanted Cruz out. He ruined the retirement plans of corrupt AFP brass when he abolished the Office of the AFP deputy chief of staff for comptrollership. He also
limited promotion opportunities for certain types of officers. His MOA with the Comelec will do away with heroic Esperonic acts during presidential elections.”
He added, “Cruz also earned the ire of long-time suppliers to the AFP. One group was angry he had not signed a repeat order for contracts signed by then-Chief of Staff Narciso Abaya, the boss of convicted AFP comptroller General Carlos Garcia. Another group said the AFP munitions became dangerously low because he did not place any new orders with them. Most of all, they were angry he replaced some members of the AFP bidding committee with his own protegés. His people revised the technical specifications of certain procurements, much to the disadvantage of the usual suspects.”
“So Cruz was forced out because of an accumulation of negatives?” I asked.
“No. Nothing could have forced him out if Mrs. Arroyo wanted him to stay.” he replied.
“So why is he out?” I asked again.
“Because he called Mrs. Arroyo harebrained,” he said.
“So she fired him?” I asked.
“No. He beat her to the draw remember?” he said. “She’s really furious about that,” he added.
“What’s she going to do now?” I asked.
“She’s going to crucify him. Just wait and see,” he said.
“But how? Cruz already cruzified her.”
Nailed by the Cruz, ‘ika nga.