29th Secretary of National Defense
2004 to 2006

Secretary Avelino J. Cruz, Jr., fondly called "Nonong", was the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel from January 2000-2004 prior his appointment as Secretary of National Defense on August 25, 2004. On numerous occasions during the same period, Secretary Cruz was also designated as Acting Executive Secretary.

Sec. Cruz was also a member of the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security (COC-IS) and the National Security Council (NSC) where he actively participated in the review of the draft peace agreements with the National Democratic Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and in meetings on the Joint Defense Assessment program with the US Department of Defense. While occasionally serving as Acting Executive Secretary, he presided over meetings of the COC-IS and the NSC.

In his stint as Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, Sec. Cruz reviewed, prior to final approval by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the following presidential issuances relative to defense and security matters:

  • Executive Order No. 21 dated 19 June 2001 establishing a coordinative and integrative system on internal security which led to the creation of the COC-IS
  • Executive Order No. 34 dated 17 September 2001 reconstituting the National Security Council and for other purposes
  • Memorandum Order No. 37 dated 12 October 2001 providing for the Fourteen Pillars of Policy and Action of the Government Against Terrorism
  • Memorandum Order No. 44 dated 06 November 2001 approving the National Internal Security Plan and directing all concerned agencies to comply with and implement the Plan
  • Memorandum Order No. 94 dated 03 April 2003 directing all concerned to implement measures to quell the recent acts of terrorism and lawlessness

Defense and Military Support
Previously, Sec. Cruz has worked closely with officials of the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines particularly in drafting the Terms of Reference (ToR) for Balikatan 02-1 ensuring that its provisions were in accordance with the Philippine Constitution and consistent with applicable international agreements. He was later again assigned to oversee the drafting of the ToR for Balikatan 03-1. In 2002, he was instructed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to leave for Washington, D.C. to thresh out the issues surrounding the planned military exercises. 

Sec. Cruz also worked closely with defense and military officials of the Philippines and its US counterparts in connection with the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA).

Aside from his work relating to the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US, Sec. Cruz is also well versed on the UN Security Council Resolutions and other international agreements on terrorism.

Academic Background

Sec. Cruz graduated Salutatorian and 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 has been admitted to the practice of law by the New York Bar and was Bar Examiner in Commercial Law in the 1995 Bar Examinations.

He also finished BS Mathematics from the Ateneo de Manila University. As a student leader, he was President of the UP Law Student Government and the Ateneo Student Coucil. He was Senior Editor of The Philippine Collegian of U.P. and member of the editorial board of The Guidon of the Ateneo. 

Professional Affiliation

In 1994, Sec. Cruz served as President of the Philippine Bar Association, the largest, oldest and most prestigious national voluntary organization for lawyers.

In 2002, Sec. Cruz served as President of the UP Law Alumni Association.

Sec. Cruz is currently a Trustee of the UP Law Alumni Foundation and is a member of international lawyers’ organizations such as the ASEAN Law Association, International Bar Association, Inter-Pacific Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association.


Sec. Cruz is 51 years old at the time of his appointment as Secretary of National Defense. He was born on April 26, l953 in San Marcelino, Zambales. He spent his childhood years in Baguio City where he attended St. Louis School.