Dr. Elba CruzDr. Elba Cruz, newly-appointed president of the Development Academy of the Philippines, addresses DAP employees during the turnover rites held at the DAP headquarters in Pasig. Seated at right is outgoing President Antonio Kalaw Jr. with DAP Vice President for Corporate Concerns Trygve Bolante. (Photo by Meg Matias)

Dr. Elba S. Cruz, the new president of the Development Academy of the Philippines, asked DAP employees to “work together and not away from each other” by “breaking down barriers and building teams and synergies driven by mutual respect, trust, and reciprocity.”

Speaking during turnover ceremonies at the DAP headquarters in Pasig City where outgoing DAP President Antonio D. Kalaw Jr. turned over to her the reins of the government’s premier training and research institution, Dr. Cruz told more than 300 DAP employees and guests present that she wants the DAP to be not only a place where brilliant ideas thrive but where a “healthy tolerance and regard for the views of others” exist.

She told the crowd that as she is slowly being acquainted with the DAP’s mission, she is “increasingly inspired and… humbled by its long and illustrious history of achievement,” including the “rich heritage” that she says it continues to nurture to make the public sector “stronger and more responsive” to the changing times.

Fulfilling mandate, realizing potential

“Believe me when I say that I would like to work with you all in fulfilling the Academy’s mandate, and in realizing its fullest potential as the government’s premier agency in pioneering ideas, capacitating individuals and organizations, and promoting partnerships for the good of society and the general welfare,” Dr. Cruz told the employees.

She said she would like to start by “simplifying and aligning” the DAP’s program thrusts and resources to support the priorities of the administration of President Duterte.

“I would like the Academy to show the way and take the lead in exercising good governance, so much so that we have to increase our very own capacities in information technology, and likewise… ensure that we conform (with) acknowledged best practices,” said Dr. Cruz, who now follows Kalaw as the DAP’s eighth president in an illustrious line that also includes founding President Dr. Onofre D. Corpuz, Dr. Jaime Laya, Dr. Lourdes Quisumbing, Jose “Ping” de Jesus, Carmencita Abella and Dr. Eduardo Gonzalez.

Great honor

The new chief executive officer of the DAP acknowledged it is a “great honor” to be the head of the said institution while she embraces the immense responsibilities and challenges that come with it.  She thanked Kalaw for the “warm reception” accorded her and her team and for the effort he has exerted to familiarize them with an organization he led for almost 11 years.

“I am certainly looking forward to working with (Kalaw) in the future as he joins the Council of Fellows as one of our distinguished past presidents,” Dr. Cruz said, citing Kalaw’s numerous accomplishments while he was at the helm of the 43-year-old government agency.  These include the shift of the DAP from merely offering its products and services to having widely-recognized national government programs with multi-year funding, an increase in revenues and an annual growth rate of 14 percent, the ISO certification of its Quality Management System, the creation of its own Service Charter and Public Affairs Desk in compliance with the Anti-Red Tape Act, and the transformation of its procurement and bidding system into a model of the Procurement Law, as affirmed by third-party observers.

Building on it

She said that the DAP must be proud of such a legacy, and it is something she intends to “build on” as she assumes office.

Dr. Cruz, a “multi-disciplinarian and advocate,” has a long list of credentials and experience herself.  A lawyer who earned her spurs at the University of the Philippines under such legal luminaries as Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Dean Antonio Laviña and Prof. Arno Sanidad, she eventually completed her law studies at the Arellano University, where she became a law professor for more than a decade aside from having similar stints at the Batangas State University School of Law and the St. Benedict’s School in Alabang.

While teaching law and occupying various other positions in the academe, Dr. Cruz worked on her doctorate and masters degrees, completing her Doctor of Philosophy with Majors in Management and Political Economy in 2011 at the International Academy for Management and Economics, where she earned the highest distinction for both academics and dissertation.  She earlier completed her Master in Business Administration in 2006 at the Arellano University Graduate School of Business.

Environmental advocacy

An environmentalist since the 1990s, that advocacy has formed the core of her private undertakings, which include the Malagos Farm Haven in Davao City that she has developed and which now promotes green technologies and lifestyle.  She intends to eventually turn the property into a “legacy project” that features agriculture, natural wellness, culture and the arts, and eco-tourism.

Even before she went into such ventures, Dr. Cruz has had an extensive corporate practice, starting with Sycip, Gorres and Velayo and moving on to various stints with Springs Foundation; Arco Management and Development Corporation under the mentorship of horseracing magnate Atty. Alfonso Reyno Jr.; Lifestyle Expressions Inc.; Espina, Fojas, Cruz Law Offices; Biohitech Philipines Inc.; PHILKOR Bio-Energy Inc.; RSC Holdings Inc.; and Ruya Agri-Development Corporation.  Her stint with Arco eventually led to her becoming Senior Vice President for Resource Administration and Special Projects at the Manila Jockey Club Inc., where she helped open biotechnology projects and co-ventures with Biohitech Ltd. of Korea, and where she was instrumental in the approval of two eco-tourism zones for the MJCI, which had also diversified into real estate development, in Tayuman, Quezon and Carmona, Cavite.

Other advocacies

On top of her environmental advocacy, Dr. Cruz has also devoted her time to spiritual engagements, having first joined a Catholic charismatic community where she became a formator-teacher and a lay missionary before she went into law school.  She later co-founded the Mahal na Birhen ng Piat Foundation for which she is building a spirituality center in Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan.  Thousands have received spiritual healing and rejuvenation at the said center under Rev. Fr. Edgardo de Jesus, a Divine Mercy priest and a close friend.

Dr. Cruz, a devotee of St. Francis of Assisi whose austere lifestyle she says she looks up to, complements her spirituality with a tough side provided by her being a reservist in the military, holding the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Philippine Army.  She has also had extensive training for such a pursuit, having completed her Masters in National Security Administration in 2012 at the National Defense College of the Philippines as well as the Command and General Staff Course in 2013 at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Command and General Staff College, where she earned Order of Merit No. 2.  She is now the  brigade commander of the 2202nd Ready Reserve Brigade based in Davao City. – Bert A. Ramirez