The sudden resignation of the Philippines Defense Secretary Avelino "Nonong" Cruz is a major tectonic event for the Arroyo Presidency, like the sort of earthquakes that presage a volcanic eruption. It is said to be fallout from the recent train wreck of the Lambino Charter Change Express. But that seems to be merely the Palace's preferred spin on it, since there isn't much more they could actually lose on the chacha front (except maybe for a sorry con-ass.)
From the Palace web site:
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.
Now a Cabinet Secretary of a major Executive Department like Defense does not suddenly quit over some past policy difference. If Sec. Avelino "Nonong" Cruz tendered his irrevocable resignation during a one-on-one tete-at-tete with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, it may be over something he either wants to do or doesn't want to do for her in the future because it conflicts with his conscience, not just his intelligence any more.
This has to do with the 2007 Midterm Elections and what role the military will play in it. Maybe the Palace didn't realize the boyish Nonong Cruz was serious when he declared last February around the time of the alleged coup, that he intended to disentangle the Philippine military from the tentacles of electoral politics and professionalize the armed services.
During elections the military are the Security Guards of the Garcis in Comelec and the bodyguards of the key personnel and documents during the multistage canvass. But with a crucial election coming up that could see the Filipino people vote in a Hanging Senate, there's no room for error and the Palace knows it. Now the Palace needs someone absolutely reliable to run the military during the 2007 elections the way Old Tradition has done it. As in 2004.
Perhaps Nonong Cruz had made a free hand to professionalize the Armed Services a condition of his employment when he first accepted the Defense post. But now that the real election operators want the military back for use in the 2007 elections, he's only going to get in the way of a do-or-die operation in 2007.
The handwriting is already on the wall: the Philippine Senate will be in Opposition hands next year, with a solid two thirds majority overall. If the Opposition wins just 8 Senate seats in the midterm 2007 elections, there will be the required number of 16 senators for conviction in an impeachment trial. But the Palace must win more than two-thirds of the Lower House since only one-third of its membership is required to send her for trial among that species of Senator-Judges whose existence she has been threatening to terminate in various devious and not-so devious ways.
The Garcis at Comelec will need their old reliable Security Guards to "guard the ballot" during the dagdag-bawas, err, multistage canvassing operation of the manual elections. Them, and the indentured servants call public school teachers, whose convenient existence is the main reason Comelec has never automated its polling operations. Why buy develop and automated system when you have all the human adding machines you need. And teachers have great reputations with the people.
That of Nonong Cruz has certainly improved.
The Manila Bulletin headlines GMA's refusal to accept the resignation. (By the way, I am enjoying Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial, which Ricky Carandang and I got to talk about on ANC Mornings last Thursday.) Fittingly as the traditional repository of such records as Obituaries around here, the Manila Bulletin's front page also carries the news that Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to death by hanging. Here is New York Times coverage of the blessed event. This news may not help the GOP very much except with its core constituencies. I just wish Ferdinand Marcos had met the same Justice.
The US 2006 midterm elections has certainly hotted up. But is a Democratic victory in 2006 actually a Republican strategy for victory in 2008? Ramesh Ponnuru thought so several months back (via John Marzan of Politics '04). Botching John Kerryism is also here from Victor Davis Hanson.
I saw the movie The Prestige last night, from Touchstone Pictures, starring Michael Caine, David Bowie, Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Scarlett Johannson. Everything that happens can be explained if you suspend disbelief and accept that the Transported Man apparatus of the 19th century inventor and physicist, Nicola Tesla (who makes a putative cameo appearance in the plot), actually works. The challenge of the movie is to explain all events in the plot without this assumption. We were talking about it for hours afterwards. A rare movie this. Also in MLQ3's PDI column today: Noblesse Prestige
Honesto General at INQ7 Money has the both right and wrong ideas in The Fallacies of the SWS Hunger Survey. He's wrong to call for regulation of the survey firms, because as I've often averred, Public Opinion Polling is a Genre of Journalism. But he is quite right to question the objective reliability of a measure like "self-rated hunger" in which the SWS asks people whether or not they have experienced "hunger" in the preceeding quarter. Mr. General says,
SWS should interview my 7-year-old grandson Wacky. Three times a day just before meals, he complains, "Lolo, I'm so hungry."What he means of course is that the respondents who honestly answer the SWS survey question, did they experience hunger in the preceeding quarter, may say YES for completely subjective though truthful reasons that have nothing to do with for example, the poverty level of people, or the actual inability to get food for bare survival.
Indeed if you examine the SWS raw data, (just ignore the Media Release), you will find a curious SEASONALITY to the peaks and valleys of self rated hunger response, which tends to peak in the 4th Quarter survey but drops precipitously in the 1st Quarter Surveys. Why? Well it seems people get very hungry JUST BEFORE the Christmas holidays. But they are relatively satiated after the holidays! The data is only 34 SWS surveys worth between 1998 and 2006. There also seems to be cyclical components of self-rated hunger in correlation to the elections (1998, 2001, 2004). An even bigger mystery arises in the fact that self-rated poverty is down 8 points in this Quarter from the last! What is this, people are getting richer AND hungrier at the same time?