No Time To Lose

Buencamino writes political commentary for the NGO Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror, January 11, 2006 edition, p. A11.

A few months ago, Mrs. Gloria Arroyo didn’t know if she would last another day in Malacañang. Today, she is preparing for a tenure that will take her way beyond 2010. She plans to cancel the 2007 elections so she can put in place a unicameral parliament where the only check and balance to her power will be a compliant Supreme Court.

Mrs. Arroyo pretends she has no such plans and claims it was the Jose Abueva commission that proposed the scenario. But she personally selected and paid for Abueva’s commission, so how can that body be anything but a ventriloquist’s dummy?

A Rizal Day editorial in one of the major dailies described Mrs. Arroyo in this manner, “the President, to this day, has shown her nimble ability to cross every possible line that either the law, tradition or conscience should draw—and which a politician aspiring to be a statesman should not cross.”  There you are.

When the rule of law is in the hands of an outlaw, the people have no recourse but to exercise their inalienable right to pick a new leader, in whatever manner they choose. It is the only way to restore the rule of law.

Mrs. Arroyo’s New Year’s message is: “Let us break from the past and face a brave new future. Political change is the handmaiden of permanent economic prosperity.”  Okay, let’s take her word for it. Let’s replace her outlaw regime so we can begin a brave new future complete with permanent economic prosperity.

Mrs. Arroyo’s nefarious 2010+ plan is in full swing. There is no time to fool around with popularity contests. An alternative to Mrs.Arroyo is easier to find with criteria based not on charisma but on who is least likely to be rejected outright by the left, the middle forces, the Estradas, the Poes, the military, the clerics or the business sector. Once that person is found, Mrs. Arroyo will be out of Malacañang faster than she can speed-dial Garci’s cellphone number.

Although there are many highly qualified alternatives to Mrs. Arroyo, selecting one from among them is not as daunting as it seems. It involves a simple process of elimination. Prepare a list of all the available Arroyo replacements and cross out the dishonest ones. Then, remove those with less experience in government. Now you have a much shorter list. From there, keep only those who have what the Americans call the vision thing. Finally, pick the one who can unite the opposition because he is also the one who can unite the nation.

Who would that be?

I know someone who is honest. Someone who made his money before he became a senator. He has a lot of government experience but he is not a trapo. He has chaired Senate committees on defense, agriculture, science, banking, economics, trade, tourism and cooperatives. He is committed to realizing his father’s vision of social justice. He is acceptable to most, if not all, opposition groups. At the very least, no opposition group will reject him outright. Once he replaces Arroyo, he will win the nation over not only because he carries his father’s good name and vision but also because he is capable and decent.

I’m talking about Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr.  Say what?  I’ll say it again. Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. He has been there all this time but nobody talks about him because he does not talk about himself. He does not grandstand.

He withdrew his support for Gloria Arroyo when he heard the Hello Garci tapes but he did not join the circus that followed. He is investigating the potentially most sensational corruption scandal involving Mrs. Arroyo, the fertilizer scam, yet he has not used that investigation to ride up the popularity charts.

Arroyo will not find any mud to throw at Magsaysay. The only thing she can and will use against him, aside from stoking the ambitions of other qualified aspirants, is the constitutional provision on succession. But constitutional succession is an argument of no consequence when the rule of law is in the hands of outlaws. The inalienable right to choose a leader, in whatever manner they choose, belongs to the sovereign people—not to Mrs. Arroyo’s cheesy lawyers. Besides, Mrs. Arroyo has no moral right to avail herself of a Constitution she holds in contempt.

Magsaysay is my guy. He is the best available replacement for the outlaw occupying Malacanang. There is no way Mrs. Arroyo can stand up to him once the opposition unites behind him.

Only two questions remain: Will other qualified aspirants become statesmen like Salvador Laurel and keep their ambition on hold? Does Magsaysay want to be our guy?

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