Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror, January 26, 2006 edition, p. A11.

Hunter S. Thompson once said, “In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely.”  Well, it’s been six months since we heard the Hello Garci tapes and Gloria Arroyo is still in Malacañang. How come?

Because the man on the street, unlike academics and ideologues in their ivory towers, does not live by manifestos and reform agenda alone.  He needs to see a face. Experience has taught him that who is as important as what.

Second, although some of us enjoy large followings, none of us, so far, is acceptable to all of us and worse, some of us will actively oppose some of us.  This is not the time for personal agenda. This is the time to concentrate on restoring the rule of law. No one can run for president while Gloria Arroyo occupies Malacañang. First things first.

Third, in addition to the lack of a face and intramurals, we don’t know what we want to do after Gloria. We all speak transition but we attach different meanings to it.

Some say transition means a transition government that will immediately introduce fundamental reforms and a new Constitution. Well, if that’s what it is, then it’s an oxymoron. Besides, it’s undemocratic for an unelected transition body to impose a New Society and an Abueva commission reload. Elitists should realize that no one is issuing a blank check to anybody this time around. Get elected first.

Some say close down Congress and the Supreme Court during the transition period. Do they want panic? Do they want to scare away local and foreign businesses? Do they want some foreign power thinking it has to step in to protect its interests? I think it’s better to reassure everyone that we can remove the ugly wart on the nation’s face without subjecting the nation to radical facial reconstruction.

Some want the transition government to be led by a junta or an executive committee composed of “stockholders.” But management by committee diffuses accountability. If no one in particular is held accountable for the behavior and performance of the entire team, then the system will be the one to blame. Incidentally, Gloria already owns the copyrights for all blame-the-system lines.

A large coalition is inherently unstable. Thus, a transition period must be brief and the transition government’s tasks clearly defined  and  prioritized.

The top priority of a take-over transition government must be to give way to an elected government as soon as possible. It should take no more than a few months to fire all the Comelec commissioners, and most, if not all, the known cheaters in that organization and to repair voters lists. The bottom line is this: there is no such thing as a completely secure electoral system because rats are smarter than rat-trap makers. A credible government is what makes for a credible election and not much else.

The unelected cannot introduce fundamental economic reforms. It must leave that to those who have a mandate. Thus, while preparations for an election are going on, the transition government must limit itself to chores like efficient and effective revenue collection.

The military must be allowed to purge itself. That way they don’t blame politicians for everything wrong with their organization. Let them prove they are capable of professionalizing their organization and safeguarding our security. Military justice is swift so a purge should be finished by the time elections come around.

What time is it?

It’s time to find someone with a lot of experience in politics and government but is not a trapo. Someone honest, decent, and capable. Someone who will not let lust for power get in the way of restoring the government to its true principles. Someone who is the complete opposite of that girl, our guy.

The time is now. Or we lose completely.