"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Senator Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) discusses his proposed preparedness plans and programs for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) during the intervention sessions held at the 15th IFRC General Assembly held recently in Seoul, Korea.

During the said event, Gordon was also elected as Governor of the IFRC Governing Board, garnering support of 110 countries and placing fourth among the Asia-Pacific candidates.

The convention’s participants expressed admiration to the PNRC who, under Gordon’s leadership, has shown proactive stance in various emergency situations and recognized it as a Red Cross donor society having contributed and being able to provide assistance to our neighboring countries who were affected by recent various disasters inspite the fact that our country has also suffered and was still recovering from the typhoons that struck us.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Use US Navy oil tank, pipeline in Subic to store ethanol

Senator Richard J. Gordon today urged the government to utilize the petroleum oil tank farm and pipeline located inside the Subic Bay Freeport to jumpstart the use of ethanol as renewable source of energy.

According to Gordon, the founding administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), the freeport has over 68 petroleum tanks that can hold 2.4 million barrels of oil. The tanks, whose capacity can supply the country’s oil requirements for 30 days, were used by the US navy fleet when it still had a station in Subic.

"We need to bring in ethanol and promote its use as alternative fuel in our country which we have the capacity to produce locally from indigenous agricultural crops such as sugar cane, cassava, and corn under a sustainable system," Gordon said.

Aside from being environment-friendly, ethanol will "lessen our dependence on imported crude oil and will buffer us from the rising oil prices in the world market, as well as encourage the creation of ethanol-related industries," Gordon added.

Gordon cited studies showing that up to 10 percent ethanol may be added to commercial fuel without requiring engine modification for practically all motor vehicles on the streets today. Petroleum company Seaoil has already started blending ethanol with the fuel it sells to the public, it was reported.

Ethanol-powered engines have also been developed by car manufacturers like Ford Motor Co. Philippines with its Ford Focus vehicle.

"Because ethanol is cleaner and cheaper, ethanol-powered cars can be highly attractive to consumers in the local market as well. Local car manufacturers may very well venture into such manufacturing activity and supply the local market and the growing global market with ethanol-powered cars," Gordon said.

Likewise, Gordon proposed to reduce excise tax for ethanol-powered cars, as well as the grant of other incentives to attract investors and create employment in ethanol-related industries.
Ethanol is an ideal fuel blend or additive for gasoline which is environment-friendly.

The country’s National Bio-ethanol Program has prescribed the use of "5% blend of ethanol in gasoline from year 2007 to 2010 and 10% blend from 2010 to 2017, a total of 3.7 billion liters of gasoline will be displaced by an equal volume of ethanol over a 10-year period."

The figures would translate to a total savings in foreign exchange of US$825 millions over 10 years or US$82 million per year, according to the senator.

Aside from cutting the country’s dependence on imported oil, ethanol may also be a potential export product for the Philippines, just like Brazil which pioneered ethanol fuel in the 1970s to combat rising energy costs but now exports to Japan and other countries.

The Manila Bulletin

Monday, November 07, 2005

Bird Flu Hotline must be established

Senator Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), called for the creation of a telephone hotline where the public can report all information concerning the dreaded Avian Flu as part of the preparedness and response efforts of the government to prep up for the possible advent of bird flu in the country.

Gordon said the Bird Flu Hotline would help the Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and the PNRC to immediately act on reported cases of incidences of suspicious deaths of fowls and possible bird flu.

“These international birds come in our territories visa-free so we need to boost up our monitoring efforts. Through the Bird Flu Hotline, we can ask the public to be the government’s partner by calling up to report sightings of suspicious bird deaths and high incidence of flu most especially in areas near the markets, poultries, cockpit arenas, pet shops, and bird sanctuaries s well as ports where birds are being boarded,” said Gordon.

The senator also proposed for the registration of all bird handlers which includes their owners and workers. Gordon said that the Philippines, being a labor-intensive country, “should monitor the welfare of our workers.”

He added that any bird handler who catches flu is duty-bound to report his/her condition to the authorities for medical examination and surveying of his work area where possible contamination may have taken place.

Gordon reiterated his call for an extensive education campaign on Avian Flu to increase the public’s knowledge on the said disease. He had earlier instructed the local Red Cross chapters nationwide to re-activate and re-orient its Chapter Core Disseminators who underwent SARS, Public Health and Disaster Response Trainings and ordered the production of Information Education Communication materials to be distributed to schools and community health centers.

“We need to empower our people by educating them about the bird flu. This is critical in advancing the country’s preparedness, surveillance, and response efforts against the dreaded pandemic,” Gordon said.

The World Bank has already emphasized the potential human and economic repercussions from any bird flu pandemic, while the Asian Development Bank has said that an outbreak could push the world into recession and would cost Asian economies as much as $283 billion.

“We (the Philippines) should ensure that we have all the reasonable measures to prevent the outbreak of bird flu in the country and establish comprehensive and appropriate response plans,” said Gordon.

He added that he will raise the bird flu issue up on the upcoming International Red Cross Conference in Korea next week. “This is not just a local concern, people have died in our neighboring countries because of this disease. We can’t just stand here and get caught off guard,” pronounced Gordon adding that, “we will join hands and coordinate with our international counterparts to be able to draft more comprehensive plans and educational campaigns on bird flu.”


Saturday, November 05, 2005

On 5 US Marines Accused of Rape by a Filipina in Subic


'Local laws must apply'

Sen. Richard Gordon said the Philippines "did not give away part of our sovereignty" when the government signed the VFA.

"The subject matter here is an alleged criminal offense punishable under our laws and committed within Philippine territory. Definitely, the Philippines has jurisdiction, especially so when the offense occurred when the US military personnel was off-duty," he said.

By Paolo Romero
"Government vows justice for rape victim"
The Philippine Star 11/05/2005



'A letdown'

Said Sen. Richard Gordon, a member of the oversight committee on the VFA, in an interview:

"These things will happen when you have military officers. It happened in Okinawa; it happened here years ago. But when it happens to an ally, it's a letdown to the principles upon which the VFA was made.

"It disturbs the focus of mutual cooperation for security," he added, stressing that the VFA was aimed at promoting the common security interests of both countries as well as strengthening security in the Asia-Pacific region.

By Allan Macatuno, Patrick Roxas, Volt Contreras
"Raped girl no sex worker College grad from Zambo was only visiting Subic"
Inquirer News Service November 5, 2005



'Common interests'

Sen. Richard Gordon defended the VFA, saying it is not meant to favor US military personnel.

"The VFA promotes the common security interests of the Philippines and the US to strengthen international and regional security in the Pacific," said Gordon, former chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and a staunch US ally.

He is confident that the Marines if found guilty will be convicted accordingly.

"I recall that in 1984, when I was still the mayor of Olongapo, a US serviceman was proven to have killed a Filipino. The suspect was sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment and ordered to indemnify the son of the victim," he said.

The Philippines can indeed exercise jurisdiction over offenses committed by US military personnel in its territory, Gordon said. Definitely the Philippines has jurisdiction, especially if the offense occurred when the US servicemen were off-duty.

By Patricia Esteves, Efren L. Danao, Maricel V. Cruz
"Alleged rape triggers widespread outrage"
Saturday, November 05, 2005

Friday, November 04, 2005

Asian Bird Flu Alert


'Red Cross on alert'

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) put all of its chapters nationwide on alert against the possible entry of avian influenza in the country.

PNRC chairman and Sen. Richard Gordon said each chapter must re-activate its "Chapter Core Disseminators" who underwent training on Public Health and Disaster Response and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Gordon also instructed them to produce information materials on avian influenza that would be distributed in schools and community health centers.

"We have to be ready for the imminent threat of pandemic in Southeast Asia related to avian flu. There have been confirmed cases in our neighboring countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

The PNRC has taken preparedness and response efforts to assist the government in its efforts to prep up for the possible advent of bird flu," he noted.

The country's beefed up its preventive efforts against avian influenza with the onset of the migration season for wild birds coming from neighboring countries. It is feared that migratory birds will bring in the virus which has already affected Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Vietnam.

PNRC secretary Vic Liozo claimed that Avian Flu Preventive Education has already been integrated to all Red Cross training courses being offered nationwide.

Aside from these, PNRC volunteers have also been assigned to help in monitoring bird sanctuaries, poultry, pet shops, markets, cockpit arenas and slaughter houses.

"We don't want to be caught off-guard when an outbreak hits us. The PNRC's standard procedure is to predict, plan, prepare, practice, cope, mitigate, rescue, relieve and rehabilitate in each situation," Liozo added.

By Perseus Echeminada, Sheila Crisostomo, Paolo Romero
"RP-made drug vs bird flu sold soon" The Philippine Star 11/05/2005



'Ready mode'

The Philippine National Red Cross has placed its local affiliates on "ready mode" in anticipation of an avian flu outbreak.

PNRC chair Sen. Richard Gordon has ordered all Red Cross chapters to immediately reactivate and reorient the "chapter core disseminators" who had undergone public health and disaster response training during the SARS scare three years ago.

"We have to be ready for the imminent threat of pandemic in Southeast Asia related to the avian flu," Gordon said in a statement.

The PNRC will start distributing information and education materials about the disease to schools and health centers nationwide.

Avian flu preventive education has already been integrated in all Red Cross training courses, said PNRC secretary Vic Liozo.

By Christian V. Esguerra
"NO PATENT:RP may manufacture medicine vs bird flu
Inquirer News Service November 5, 2005

On Legislated Wage Hike


Let people get jobs first...

"A living wage is dependent on regional circumstances, which the executive is far better suited to address," Sen. Richard Gordon said. "Don't pass it on to Congress. The bureaucracy is there. Use it."

Instead of asking Congress to pass a wage bill, the government should create an environment conducive to investments and trade, and create employment opportunities, Gordon said.

"Let's do a China, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Let's get our people employed first," he said.

Five senators on wage: Keep Congress out
By TJ Burgonio, Jerome Aning
Inquirer News Service November 5, 2005



Dont pass the problem...

Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Gordon, who has been distancing himself from the administration, accused President Arroyo of "trying to pass on the problem to the legislature."

"There are many things that wages do, apart from enriching those with wages," he said. "It also affects those without work."

The Philippines should follow the example of China, South Korea and Japan which require low salaries until they are able to determine higher value for wages.

"Sa akin (For me), it is important that the wage increases be decided by wage boards," he said.

"They are closer on the ground... while legislature can do that, cast wages in stone... di mo alam kung magiging elastic na naman... baka masyadong mataas na di na pumasok ang negosyo (You don't know if it will become elastic again...it might be too high that business would not come in)," Gordon said.

Gordon also advised Mrs. Arroyo against pushing for a legislated wage hike.

"The President must not pass on to the legislature what is essentially an executive function," he said.

"It should really be the executive that should make decisions... whether it would be good for the wage earner."

Employers oppose P125 daily wage hike
By Mayen JaymalinThe Philippine Star 11/04/2005

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gordon says a mouthful

Senator Dick Gordon said a mouthful during our regular Kapihan sa Sulo forum last week.

Once described as a "motor mouth" by friends and foes Gordon did not disappoint the pre-All Saints' Day crowd with his "stream of ideas" ranging from, among others, a five point plan for PGMA to do right away if she hopes to restore her standing with the people; to a viable solution to the spiraling cost of imported oil (ethanol) and to raising more revenues outside of E-VAT (tax on text message) to be used for specific, directed and priority programs (educational and skills upgrading).

Delivered with gusto in his patented staccato, "man-in-a-hurry" style, Gordon noted that instead of "going around the ropes" PGMA should start "hitting the right spots" to bring some hope to our muddled situation.

Taking off from his earlier advise for the administration to stand firm on its reform agenda and avoid being tagged as overly transactional in its governance, Gordon called on PGMA to "take a holistic approach in reforming the government by acting decisively in responding to the people's basic needs, fair and firm in implementing policies, friendly to investors and tourists to generate much needed funds and forward looking in anticipating and preparing our people to the challenges and opportunities worldwide." In a word, he advised PGMA to lead and do something concrete for our people.

To be sure, a number of Gordon's suggestions have been given prominence in the past specially after he chided PGMA herself for practicing a kind of "transactional leadership" as opposed to an enlightened and transformational one. But coming as it does from an administration solon and her former tourism secretary, Gordon's reiteration at this point can only reinforce the prevailing public view that indeed there is need for Malacañang to seriously review its directions and change course to finally do the urgent and doable tasks at hand.

Said Gordon: "PGMA should immediately do the following: a) run after the criminals – smugglers, kidnappers, drug traffickers -; b) generate jobs – shift budget to tourism and trade, the two main (immediate) fund (investment) generating departments of the country; c) boost tax collection and tax the "wants, not the needs"; d) close the gap in education and health and e) make (transform) the government into a fast, fair, firm, friendly and forward looking one."

Gordon's point that President Arroyo should focus on these doable measures is shared by most Filipinos. Which is why it behooves Malacañang to take his suggestions no matter how severely worded, as one factotum was reportedly overheard as saying, in stride and do the right thing for once. But given the prevailing mood in the Palace which has been described by some as "tunnel visioned" and barricaded, that is an iffy thing at best.

But no matter. If by any chance PGMA takes Gordon's suggestions seriously there can be no question that it will have a positive impact on her standing. As some observers note, the administration's position is such that any successful effort to do the basic things it is mandated to do anyway will have a dramatic impact. As the latest survey shows, while 59 percent of the public think that the continuing investigations being undertaken by Congress are getting to be a waste of scarce public resources no less than 75 percent still want PGMA out of Malacañang by any constitutional means possible. That says a lot by any standard.

In any event, no matter how some of Gordon's detractors try to insinuate that his views are only meant to put Malacañang on the spot and induce more positive responses for the senator's favorite causes such as the fate of Olongapo and SBMA, his advise still deserves attention.

After all, implemented properly these can really turn the tide for this beleaguered regime. The ethanol plan, for example, will not only save us precious foreign exchange it can actually revive the country's withering sugar industry. On the other hand, the tax on text as long as there is a "no-pass-on" provision can discipline most of our people and, perhaps more importantly, direct billions of resources to the rehabilitation of our basic services.

Call Gordon ambitious or even overly frank but you cannot accuse him of being idle, unthinking or uncaring.

Thursday, 3 November 2005
J.A. Dela Cruz

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pushing for Ethanol Bill

In these increasingly difficult times – as felt by motorists appalled by the unstoppable rise in fuel prices plus the expected value-added tax (EVAT) –Senator. Richard Gordon's pushing for the passage of the ethanol bill is encouraging.

According to the senator, "Ethanol is a viable answer to the oil crisis and other related economic problems besetting ourcountry today."

He said ethanol is a renewable energy source that can be produced locally from indigenous agricultural crops like sugarcane. It is an ideal fuel blend or additive for gasoline that is also environment-friendly, he said.

The bill, when passed, will provide the necessary legal framework for the National Bio-Ethanol Program, which aims to reduce the country's dependence onimported fuel.

Citing figures, he said, "Starting from the use of five per cent blend of ethanol in gasoline from year 2007 to 2010 and 10 per cent blend from 2010 to 2017, a total of 3.6 billion liters of gasoline will be displaced by an equal volume of ethanol over a 10-year period."

This will mean savings for the country of US$285 million over 10 years, or US$82 millionannually.

The senator said that the promotion of the local ethanol industry would translate into agro-technology development, increased investments, additional employment, increased government revenues and a multiplier effect on support/downstream industries and the service sector.

He proposed the creation of agro-industrial economic zones with post-harvest facilities and ethanol fuel tanks in strategic locations in the country.

Aside from cutting on energy dependence on imported oil, he said ethanol could also be a potential export produce for the country. Brazil, for example,pioneered in the production of ethanol fuel in the 1970s to combat rising energy costs, and now exports to Japan and other countries.

* * *
Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2005
Domini M. Torrevillas