Sec. Avelino Cruz: A man with delicadeza!

That Defense Secretary Avelino "Nonong" Cruz turned in his irrevocable resignation to Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) reveals the reality that not all of the President's men believe in changing the constitution via the People's Initiative, which was rebuffed by the Supreme Court.

I know that all the President's men must paddle their canoes in one direction, but then, Nonong Cruz being the top notch lawyer that he is, already knew the flaws of the People's Initiative; that this constitutional proviso did not have an enabling law for its proper implementation. Sec. Cruz's giving his irrevocable resignation showed he had delicadeza, which we thought no longer existed in government people. This man has class!

We've had a couple of meetings with Nonong Cruz in Malacañang. One thing I found about this fellow, he was a man of his word. He's a man of character. He was one of Malacañang's few good men! When he made a commitment, that's final and executory. A few months back, we had dinner with the Defense Secretary with a few media present after the turnover of command in Camp Lapu-Lapu.

It was there that I impressed upon Sec. Cruz the need for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to build a Coastal Navy vessel in FBMA in Balamban, along the lines of the SuperCat. What we need are not huge warships, but small ones, like the famous PT-Boats of World War II that could inflict heavy damage on planes, ships and shoreline. Yes, TriCats can do the job of the Navy for as long as you put in the right armament. Sec. Cruz listened to my talk intently. But now, he's gone! Now we're back to square one!
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We got a lot of favorable responses on our article yesterday about Filipino crabs. I guess it was a timely reminder of what the Philippines has become today - stymied into stagnation because our local crabs just don't want the Philippines to succeed despite the efforts of the government to promote our country! In the Convention Center business (at least in Asia) the Philippines was also ahead of this when it built the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) way back in 1975 to be used for the 1st time during the World Law Conference in 1976.

How could I forget? I was the official student representative of the University of San Carlos (USC) Law School that took part in the World Confab. In fact, I was able to talk to US Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall, the 1st black man to hold the highest post of the US Supreme Court. He was waiting for his car when I spotted him and talked to him and yes, he obliged a young man like me, happy to be talking to a law student.

When I first got into the PICC, you'd be awed at the cemented structure and believe me, Hong Kong and Singapore could only sigh with envy. Back in those days, people go to Hong Kong to shop or go to Victoria Peak. As for Singapore, it was still considered a backwater place. Today, CNN always features Singapore giving it utmost importance compared to all the other cities in Asia. Yet, 10 years ago, Singapore found the need to build its convention center called Suntec to draw international conventions to their city.

Today, Suntec is not just a convention center, they turned it into a Convention City, literally a city within a city! If Mandaue City plays its cards right, the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) too can become a new growth area for Mandaue City. A case in point is what the Mactan International Airport Authority (MCIAA) did when it leased its Lahug property along Salinas Drive to the Waterfront Hotel. Salinas Drive was a very quiet road where you couldn't find a single restaurant or carenderia in sight 10 years ago!

Today, thanks to the presence of the Waterfront Hotel, Salinas Drive is the fastest growing area in Cebu City that gave for a sharp increase in the prices of Real Estate and rentals. The City of Cebu has also earned new revenues when before the hotel was put there, they had none! Now, the Waterfront Hotel is just a hotel with a modest convention center. Just imagine what the area surrounding CICC would be if Mandaue City would play its cards right.

Because we never had huge international conventions, we never saw the need to have more hotels. It is this serious lack of 5-Star hotels that hounds Cebu's Tourism potential. If the CICC is managed like the way the PICC is managed, then we shall see a host of international events, such as annual Book Fairs, Auto Shows, Food fairs, like the one I attended years ago in Cologne, Germany with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce Inc. (CCCI). This is not to mention the local Furniture shows that already attracts international visitors or delegates and a host of international medical conventions. The CICC has a great future. It is up to us to make things work and let the Pinoy crabs gloat!

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