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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Respect Democratic Institutions

February 28, 2006

“The events of the past couple of days are the direct result of undermining the institutions that make up the Republic of the Philippines,” declared Senator Richard J. Gordon. “The media, the military, and Congress have all been desecrated and damaged by the recent events, culminating in the state of emergency,” he observed. “The state of emergency must end and we must allow our institutions to work for our country,” urged Gordon.

Gordon condemned the government takeover of the national newspaper, The Daily Tribune, calling this an unwarranted censorship or prior restraint and an infringement on the freedom of speech and press.

“It is good and healthy to have media to bring to light to a President what a coterie of advisors might otherwise conceal or sugarcoat in their efforts to please,” he said. “Certainly, honest and responsible reporting, while sometimes personally painful for the subject, should never be restrained or muzzled, as in the case of the Daily Tribune now,” Gordon continued.

Gordon also urged the people not to use the public institutions, like the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), to cause further insecurity and instability in the country. “The military cannot govern. In a democracy, civilian authority must, at all times, be supreme over the military,” he added.

“The AFP must be let alone of any partisan political hysteria because according to the Constitution, the armed forces must be insulated from partisan politics and no member of the military must engage directly or indirectly in any partisan political activity, except to vote,” he said.

“Any violation of this Constitutional prohibition on the AFP must be prosecuted immediately to prevent military adventurism. Otherwise, we will have no peaceful country under a regime of democracy to speak of,” stated Gordon.

Likewise, Gordon added that the Executive, in imprudently resisting the powers of Congress to perform its sacred task of checks and balances, has hurt the separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislative branches of Government through instruments like Executive Order No. 464.

Meanwhile, Gordon assured the people of the responsible performance by Congress of its legislative functions so that “it can work in harmony with the three branches of government without sacrificing its independence.”

Gordon stated that “the civil and military unrest that we are experiencing right now is a necessary consequence of the political crisis resulting from undermining the institutions that ensure our security and stability, and guarantee our democracy.”

“We must all work within the framework of the Constitution,” stated Gordon.

“In the long run, the preservation of democracy and the rule of law is always paramount so we need to put closure and end this crisis right now by working under the remedies allowed by law,” he explained.

Further, Gordon said that “the Administration and Opposition alike must break the habit of stubbornly resisting our democratic institutions in favor of quick-fixes like Executive Order No. 464, Proclamation No. 1017, coup d’etat, and even people power.”

“The dignity and reputation of the Republic of the Philippines are at stake, and in the final analysis, the greatest loser in this situation will be our country if we do not end this state of emergency, and give the proper respect due to our democratic institutions,” he continued.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Senator Richard J. Gordon declared today that the alleged situation calling for a state of emergency or the seeming threat of a coup d’etat has long been over yesterday early morning when the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) apprehended the suspected coup plotters and announced that they are in full control of the situation and remain loyal to the chain of command. There was, therefore, no need for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to issue Proclamation No. 1017 subsequently.

“There is, however, a real emergency that needs to be addressed. This emergency is in Southern Leyte, where a massive landslide buried over a thousand people who have yet to be recovered and where people continue to face the imminent danger of being swallowed by the mountain in the muddy morass,” said Gordon.

Gordon spent the whole day yesterday at Southern Leyte to inspect the evacuation centers and possible resettlement areas for the victims of the Leyte landslide as Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross.

Proclamation No. 1017 only breeds fear and anxiety among the people: ordinary citizens, businessmen, and the media, according to Gordon. It is ominous, almost threatening. Most law enforcers and majority of the general public have, in fact, taken its implementation to mean a carte blanche, equivalent to martial law. “At this point in time, it is imperative to calm the fears of the people. But instead of assuring the public, Proclamation No. 1017 divides the people and hardens the positions of pro and anti-Administration groups,” said Gordon. He thus pleaded for national unity.

“We need to focus our efforts to unite the nation, especially on this special occasion of the 20th Anniversary of People Power 1. This historic event was once a proud experience for the nation that truly uplifted the Filipinos and inspired the whole world. Let us take this opportunity to unite the people for the sake of democracy and the common good,” declared Gordon.

“To preserve democracy, it is important for the AFP to stay away from partisan political activity,” added Gordon. “Civilian authority must also be supreme over the military at all times.”

Meanwhile, Gordon advised that if the people want the President out of office and she refuses to resign, then she should be removed from office by impeachment according to the Constitution, emphasizing the importance of the rule of law.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Southern Leyte slide focus now on relief efforts

"The Red Cross right now is slowly shifting into ... relief mode, addressing people who have been evacuated from the area, providing them mass feeding," said Richard Gordon, the head of the Philippine National Red Cross.

St. Bernard, Southern Leyte
CNN World Report

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

International Red Cross steps in after Leyte landslide

GENEVA -- The international Red Cross on Friday appealed for two million Swiss francs ( 1.28 million euros, 1.52 million dollars) to fund an aid operation after a landslide buried an entire village in the Philippines.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which earlier announced it had released 200,000 Swiss francs from its emergency coffers, urged donors to come forward fast because it urgently needed to provide temporary shelters, mosquito nets, medical supplies and other aid for the survivors.

The landslide, which struck Friday morning, ravaged the village of Guinsaugon in the south of the Philippine island of Leyte.

The Philippine Red Cross said about 200 people were killed and 1,500 people were missing.

Philippine Red Cross head Richard Gordon, who was in Geneva for a meeting when the disaster struck, said that the aid organization feared that the death toll would rise even higher.

The landslide had wiped out 375 homes, plus a school, he said.

"We're hoping for the best but preparing for the worst," Gordon told reporters.
Some 50 aid workers were already on site. A further 20, including two dog rescue teams, were due to arrive on Saturday, he added.

Gordon, who was in regular telephone contact with aid workers back home, said the relief operation was running up against major logistical problems.

"This is one of the most remote and inaccessible regions of the country. The mud is waist-deep in some areas and this is making it very difficult to search for survivors and get help to the injured," he said.

A relief plane was on its way from the Philippine capital Manila carrying 1,000 body bags, emergency trauma kits to help 1,000 people, rubber boots, ropes, clothing, flashlights, and medicine, the international federation said.

The affected area was already disaster-prone, and is often hit by monsoons, floods and heavy rains -- which means local aid workers are experienced in running emergency operations -- it added.

In 2004 a series of typhoons killed 1,750 people and injured a further 750, while a landslide in Southern Leyte killed up to 200 people in 2003.

The United Nations also said it was sending a disaster team to evaluate the needs and coordinate the aid effort, and was releasing 50,000 dollars in emergency funding as well as sending supplies.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Quotes on ULTRA Tragedy

"I came here to help - not to investigate."

There's the side story about insensitivity, which critics have noted not only about our own media. When Senator Richard Gordon, on the scene as chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, was asked about the cause of the stampede, he said, "I came here to help - not to investigate." (How could these "journalists" believe that the cause of accidents could be instantly determined? Get it first even if you get it wrong.) It was a stupid question, reminiscent of the broadcaster in a past tragedy in Baguio asking a man pinned down by steel, "How do you feel?" And then there are those who waved at the cameras, widely smiling, as they panned the scene.

Breakfast Table: By Adrian Cristobal
Tempo 2/6/2005

"If you give financial help to the least of your brethren, why make a public show of it?"
When I switched on the TV set to watch the aftermath of the tragedy at the Ultra, I was not surprised to see Sen. Dick Gordon at the scene helping out. It was typical of Dick, who is chair of the Philippine National Red Cross, to be at the scene of a calamity.
In 1990, Dick was in Cabanatuan City when a school building collapsed, trapping many students and killing scores of them. Dick was not supposed to be there since he was then mayor of Olongapo City, but he went there just the same to help in the rescue operations.
During the fluvial parade tragedy in Bocaue, Bulacan, on July 2, 1993, Dick sent divers to retrieve bodies in the murky river. At that time he was chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
While he was campaigning in a Nueva Ecija town, the market burned. Senatorial candidate Dick Gordon got down from his vehicle and managed the firefighting operations.
Giving a helping hand to victims of tragedy is second nature to Dick.
I remember an anecdote about Dick in the aftermath of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. A civic group from Manila went to Olongapo to hand over food and used clothing to Dick for victims of the disaster.
The group brought along a TV crew and news photographers for the occasion. The group wanted their generosity published in the national papers and seen on TV.
Dick Gordon didn't attend the ceremony highlighting the donations received from the civic group. He said later he believed generosity should never be made public.
"If you give financial help to the least of your brethren, why make a public show of it?" he said.

On Target: By Ramon Tulfo
Inquirer 2/7/2005

Monday, February 06, 2006

ULTRA STAMPEDE: Let's fix the problem not fix the blame

Philippine National Red Cross Chairman Richard J. Gordon immediately mobilized the Red Cross Disaster Response Team to assist in the stampede tragedy that happened around 6:30 in the morning today at the ULTRA .

“My heart pours out to the victims and relatives of the fatalities. On behalf of the Philippine National Red Cross, we would like to convey our sincere condolences to the familes and loved ones of those who died during the Wowowee stampede earlier today. It is, indeed, a great tragedy that so many lives were lost – lives of people who were there because they derived simple joys and pleasures from being a part of the show,” Gordon stated.

Gordon added that, the PNRC is exerting full effort and exhausting all capabilities and resources for the rescue, rehabilitation, and relief operations related to the stampede, as well as for the critical incident stress debriefing of those affected by the tragedy.

At this time, the Red Cross is focused on the rescue operations and not on any investigation related to the stampede.

“The PNRC would like to first fix the problem rather than fix the blame,”Gordon stressed. “We thank and commend all those who are cooperating in the implementation of an efficient and effective rescue mission namely, our President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Vice President Noli de Castro, Pasig City Mayor Enteng Eusebio, the Department of National Defense, the Department of Health, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the National Disaster Coordinating Council.”

Red Cross also activated a public service hotline (telephone 5270000) and a 24/7 team to handle all inquiries from those needing assistance and seeking for their relatives and their friends.

“It is heartbreaking that a tragedy like this happens,” Gordon said . “The Filipino people must learn from this tragedy. It should not be enough that we can launch rescue operations in times of disaster or calamity.”

Gordon also stressed that, “We must, at every level, plan, predict, prepare, and practice for every situation, so that when emergencies arise, we can effectively cope and then mitigate the adverse effects of these unfortunate events, and finally, we must strive to rehabilitate and resurrect those communities and lives which are affected.”

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) is a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC). PNRC’s vision is to be the foremost humanitarian organization alleviating human suffering.

4 February 2005

Communications’ Office Telefax: 527-6226
(Gina R Virtusio: 0917-9658688/ 0918-2279022)