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

Friday, July 25, 2008

Automated elections in ARMM means automation possible in whole country

ROBIN PADILLA PROMOTES ARMM AUTOMATED POLLS. Actor Robin Padilla holds up a comic book educating voters about the August 11 automated elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. With Padilla are Senator Richard Gordon, Henrietta de Villa, chairperson of the Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting; Kevin Chung, Chief Executive Officer of Avante International Technology Inc. which signed up the actor, a Muslim convert, for P2 million to promote the computerized polls; and Comelec commissioner Moslemen Macarambon. Photo taken by INQUIRER.net Reporter Katherine Evangelista

MANILA, Philippines - The chairman of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws on Friday vowed to shoot down moves to postpone the scheduled Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections.

Sen. Richard Gordon issued the threat during a weekly forum in Quezon City, saying that he would move once the bill reaches the Senate.

His remarks came after the bill seeking to postpone the ARMM polls was filed at the House of Representatives.

The bill seeks to re-schedule the ARMM polls from August this year to May 2010.

"Well, I can filibuster the proceedings. That measure will fall in my committee," Gordon said.

Gordon had authored the Amended Automated Elections Law or republic Act 9369 which calls for the pilot testing of automated election system in six cities and six provinces prior to its implementation in a national election.

He also pushed for the pilot testing of the automated elections during the ARMM polls slated on August 11.

"The ARMM has been labeled in the past as the perennial election hotspot and where supposedly a lot of cheating takes place. If the automated election works in ARMM, it can work anywhere in the country," Gordon said.- GMANews.TV

Senator vows to filibuster vs ARMM polls postponement
07/25/2008 | 09:43 PM

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Time not on side of ARMM poll postponement

MANILA, Philippines - With less than a month to go, time is not on the side of a move to postpone the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Sen. Richard Gordon said Tuesday evening.

Gordon, who chairs the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws, said two weeks may not be enough for both houses of Congress to hammer out a law to postpone the polls.

“Kung babaguhin ang batas kailangan pumayag ang Lower House at Senado
(pero) mukhang mahihirapan na, Aug. 11 na (You need a law to postpone it. Both Houses have to agree. The chances of crafting such a law between the opening of Congress on July 28 and the ARMM elections on Aug. 11 are dim)," he said in an interview on dzRH radio.

He said not even President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo can have the power to order the Commission on Elections to postpone the polls as the Comelec is an independent body.

Earlier, Mrs Arroyo favored the postponement of the Aug. 11 polls in favor of the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"Hindi pwedeng sasabi-sabi lang ng pangulo, postpone na ang elections.
Ang Comelec ay constitutional body, ibig sabihin independent yan (The president cannot order the polls postponed on mere say-so. The Comelec is a constitutional body and is independent of the president)," he said. - GMANews.TV

Time not on side of ARMM poll postponement - Gordon
07/23/2008 | 02:03 AM

Travel practitioners should come to NAIA 3

VIDEO: http://www.inquirer.net/vdo/player.php?vid=1219&pageID=3

Former tourism secretary Senator Richard Gordon presents a recommendation to the officials of the newly-opened NAIA-3, saying the local government should bring foreign "travel practitioners" to the country to show them the new airport. Video taken by INQUIRER.net reporter Abigail Kwok.

MANILA, Philippines -- To boost the image and reputation of the controversy-ridden Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3), “travel practitioners” across Asia and the country should be brought here to visit the new airport terminal, a former tourism secretary said.

Senator Richard Gordon, who served as head of the Department of Tourism from 2001 to 2003, said on Tuesday that instead of airport officials conducting dry runs, “representatives from travel practitioners in Asia…we should bring them here, pay for their transportation, bring ambassadors from all over Asia so that they can see that we now have a terminal [and] that we made a big step forward.”

NAIA-3 began commercial operations for domestic flights on Tuesday, after almost six years of delay caused by legal constraints.

Gordon said these legal issues should be settled immediately.

“Construction of the NAIA 3 is finished, let’s open it because when the international airlines land here, they will think that they are going to Terminal 3. Then they will ask why are we being taken to another terminal? And then they will find out that there is a controversy, there is corruption,” said Gordon in Filipino.

Gordon added that opening the new airport and ensuring its smooth operations would decrease the amount of criticisms domestic airports have received from local and foreign tourists.

“When they [tourists] go to the domestic airport, we are being criticized. What they think of our airport is worse than what they think of our politics. The criticisms of visitors who come here are worse than their criticisms of our Senate, Congress, and that I think is what we should listen to,” said Gordon.

The partial opening of NAIA-3 for domestic flights was a “great sigh of relief and confidence and pride because we are now showing that not only because other countries in Asia have done it, we have been able to do it,” Gordon said.

‘Travel practitioners’ should come to NAIA-3--ex-DoT chief
By Abigail Kwok
First Posted 16:30:00 07/22/2008

Against postponement of ARMM elections

"I am totally against the postponement of ARMM elections. Congress has already set a date for the ARMM elections and only congress can reset the date of the ARMM elections," Gordon said.

He also argued that as a constitutional and independent body, the Commission on Elections cannot be dictated upon.

"The Comelec is already ready. We should go through with it as scheduled as it is not only important to ARMM but also to the entire country. The automated elections in ARMM will pave the way for clean, honest and orderly elections in 2010 and beyond," said Gordon, an advocate for automated polls.

"Matatapos na ang mga 'cash-unduan' at ayusan. Mapapatibay at gaganda ang image ng Comelec, bilang tagapag-ingat ng ating right to suffrage [There will be an end to vote-buying. The image of Comelec as the gatekeeper of our right to suffrage will improve and strengthen]," he said.

Senators mixed over postponement of ARMM polls
AFP leaving matter to ‘wisdom’ of Congress
By Veronica Uy
First Posted 15:58:00 07/22/2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Deal from oil E-VAT

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Manila Times

By Dan Mariano
Gordon: New Deal from oil E-VAT

Rather than give handouts or lift the expanded value-added tax (E-VAT) on oil, Sen. Richard Gordon said, the government should launch a "new deal" similar to the package of programs US President Franklin D. Roosevelt adopted in the 1930s that cushioned the effects and eventually reversed the Great Depression.

If the Philippines is to overcome the crisis triggered by skyrocketing oil prices, Gordon said at the Kapihan sa Sulo media forum, "the government should pump-prime our economy." The wherewithal for this effort, he added, could come from the windfall collections of the EVAT on oil, which has thus far generated some P60 billion in additional revenues.

Some senators are agitating for either a suspension or a total lifting of the taxes levied on imported petroleum and its byproducts. Gordon, however, chooses not to jump into that populist bandwagon. Instead, he pointed out: "The removal of the E-VAT on oil will not solve the oil price crisis. It is merely a Band-Aid solution and does not solve the root of the problem."

Rather than remove the oil tax, Gordon said, "the government should prioritize where E-VAT money will be spent. It should show the people where the money was spent and be transparent."

Like many quarters, the senator feels that the handouts, which the Arroyo administration has been distributing to the poor, are a waste of precious state resources and have no lasting economic value. Moreover, he added, government dole merely reinforces "the attitude of mendicancy among our people, which we have had more than enough over the last four centuries or so."

It is this keen sense of history that evidently inspired Gordon to point out key lessons from the Roosevelt formula on how to respond to economic crisis.

On October 29, 1929—which later came to be known as Black Tuesday—the US stock market took an unprecedented plunge, triggering a global economic depression. Over the next five years, unemployment in the United States ballooned from four to 25 percent. Manufacturing output dropped by about 30 percent. Blue-collar workers turned into panhandlers overnight, while some businessmen literally took a dive from their skyscraper offices.

A "New Deal" was what Roose­­velt called a flurry of undertakings—including a massive civil works program—he launched soon after his election in1933 and on through 1938. FDR's goal: give relief to the poor, reform the financial system and revive the economy. By time World War II broke out, America had recovered its strength as a major industrial power, allowing it to lead the Allies to victory over the Axis powers.

At the Kapihan last Saturday, Gordon said the government could adopt an economic recovery strategy similar to FDR's New Deal. "This could be done by using proceeds from the E-VAT on oil to fund major infrastructure projects," said the former mayor who shepherded Olongapo out of the ravages of the Pinatubo eruption in 1991.

Aside from erecting much-needed civil works, he explained, an accelerated infrastructure program would create jobs. "It would reduce our unemployment rate and ensure that people will have the money to buy, at the very least, basic necessities."

Moreover, Gordon said, "these projects will empower Filipinos and give them a sense of dignity."

Where should the government—faced with myriad problems all crying out for attention—start?

As chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, Gordon has developed a perspective of the national situation far more comprehensive than most other officials'. Leading the PNRC's disaster-response efforts in the wake of Typhoon Frank, the senator found himself in Panay, Negros Occidental, Romblon and Central Mindanao. He rattled off statistics and information about the calamity, a lot of which has escaped the attention of the media and, more important, the central government in Manila.

For instance, while much attention was focused on the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars, Gordon said that an estimated P600-million worth of fishing vessels have sunk in the waters off Negros, Samar, Surigao and other provinces. "Those fishing fleets need to be rebuilt if we don't want the price of fish to go sky high, too, like oil and rice," Gordon said.

In what he called "the forgotten disaster" in Central Min­danao, huge swathes of Cotabato have remained under water weeks after Frank exited the country. Thick clumps of water hyacinth from the Liguasan Marsh continue to clog the area's waterways, threatening to destroy bridges and other civil works—bringing the local economy to a virtual standstill. "This is one area that desperately needs flood-mitigation projects," Gordon said.

In Iloilo and other parts of Panay, flashfloods and mudflows generated by the typhoon destroyed irrigation systems that covered 400,000 hectares of farmland. "If we want to restore the island's agricultural productivity, the government needs to repair and even expand the irrigation network damaged by Frank," Gordon said.

The way the senator sees it, if the E-VAT on oil is removed the government would not only lose the resources it needs to pick itself up from calamities like Typhoon Frank, but also the funds that could prime the economic pump with infrastructure and other job-creating programs.

Gordon is a rare politician. He is not afraid to defy popular causes, but instead presses for long-term solutions to national problems. That, in my book, is leadership.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Water treatment unit for Iloilo

Sen. Richard Gordon, national chairman of Philippine National Red Cross, distributes relief goods to typhoon-affected families in Brgy. Cuartero, Jaro.

Iloilo City and three adjoining Iloilo towns are now assured of clean and safe drinking water following yesterday's launch of a major water treatment facility here.

As such, at least 40,000 locals daily from 277 barangays and villages can expect as much as 75,000 liters of safe drinking water everyday.

An added boost to portable water sanitation facilities already in place, the project was realized through the efforts of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC).

PNRC Chairman Senator Richard "Dick" Gordon was in town anew in yesterday's project launching alongside a team from the Swedish Red Cross, the donors of the water treatment unit.

In a news release furnished to The News Today (TNT), the PNRC Iloilo Chapter said Iloilo was chosen with 90 percent of towns here affected by Typhoon Frank.

"Massive flooding disrupted and contaminated water supplies and as a result, water-borne diseases have become a serious threat," the news release went.

The donated water treatment facility – Water Sanitation Module 40 – can hold and process as much as 600 cubic meters of water a day.

"The Water Sanitation Module 40 is expected to benefit residents in the following areas: Pavia – 19 barangays with 39,275 population, Leganes – 18 barangays with 27,357 population, Santa Barbara – 60 barangays with 51,075 population and Iloilo City – 180 barangays with 418,710 population," the news release added.

Senator Gordon also supervised earlier installations of the four portable water treatment units donated to Iloilo and Province of Aklan.

Albeit a smaller model, "even murky waters," the PNRC said, may be processed and sanitized by the said units.

The Swedish Red Cross team was represented by Ulrika Haapaniemi, Sara Andersson, Tomas Arlemo and Jeanette Nordinbroth.

Senator Gordon was met by the PNRC Iloilo team headed by Iloilo City Councilor Ramon Cua Locsin. After the project launching, Gordon made the rounds in Jaro, Arevalo and Lapaz Districts of the city.

In Jaro, hundreds of flood victims of Barangay Cuartero received another round of PNRC relief assistance in the form of food parcels and water buckets.

"Fight, fight, fight," Gordon encouraged the affected families saying that the Ilonggo and Filipino spirit must prevail in times of calamity. He was accompanied in the Jaro relief distribution by former Cuartero Barangay Captain and ex-officio member of the city council, Marietta Orleans.

Gordon, Swedish Red Cross deliver water treatment unit for city, 3 Iloilo towns
By Florence F. Hibionada
The News Today

Appeal for aid for Cotabato

Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) chairman and Sen. Richard Gordon said many parts of Cotabato City remain flooded but are getting little help from the government.

"I think the (government) agencies have forgotten about Cotabato," Gordon said, adding that a number of families in the city choose to stay in their flooded homes instead of seeking refuge in evacuation centers.

"If you see the people there, they’re on rooftops. They are in a very difficult situation. Even the bridges are damaged," he said.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), also appealed for help for the city’s flood victims.

The 69-year-old prelate said some 2,800 of the affected families are staying in 25 evacuation centers, and 11,000 others in temporary shelters provided by the city government and the Catholic Church.

Gordon said the Cotabato City needs more food, medicine, rubber boats, ambulances and four-wheel drive vehicles so those in far-flung areas could be rescued.

He said there must also be massive effort to repair all the drainage systems destroyed by the floodwaters.

"It has been two weeks. The Muslim children cannot go to school because their schools are also submerged. I will ask the NDCC (National Disaster Coordinating Council) to provide additional assistance to Cotabato," he said.

Aside from giving donations in cash or kind, Quevedo said city folk unaffected by the flooding could render volunteer work.

"There are a hundred little things to be done. They could (remove) water lilies or provide food for the volunteers, list names, repack and distribute supplies, and visit the evacuees," he said.

"I thank everyone and every organization – government, non-government, civic organizations, religious groups, the military – helping take care of their needs," Quevedo said.

Assistance may be coursed through the Mindanao Cross, Notre Dame Avenue, Cotabato City; dxMS Cotabato City, dxND Kidapawan City and dxOM-FM Koronadal City.

Cash donations may be remitted to Notre Dame University, Metrobank Account No. 707-490-0107, or the Archdiocese of Cotabato, EastWest Bank Account No. 63-02-005212.

Gordon, bishop appeal for aid for Cotobato
Philippine Star

UAAP Team Philippines

Senator Richard Gordon and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney watch as NBA Washington Wizard star Gilbert Arenas hands a Team Philippines jacket to Manny Pacquiao after the Ateneo-La Salle UAAP game. With them are Adidas director Joey Singian.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Hundreds of fishermen, “third" casualty of typhoon “Frank"

MANILA, Philippines - Hundreds of fishermen were the “third" casualty of typhoon “Frank" (Fengshen) whose death and disappearance went largely unnoticed as rescue operations centered on victims of MV Princess of the Stars, and residents of provinces that were badly hit by the natural disaster.

In an interview with radio dzBB’s Benjie Liwanag on Sunday, Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, said the typhoon's “third" victims were fishermen who went out sailing but failed to return home as the typhoon created huge waves at sea.

“Maraming nangingisda na kapos ang…pagkakaintindi sa bagyo dahil di sa kanila nakarating ang Pagasa o kulang ang report ng Pagasa (There were many people who went fishing during the height of the typhoon who either did not know about the storm or were not informed about the weather advisory from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration)," said Gordon.

He said that in Negros Occidental province’s Cadiz City alone, 222 vessels sank, while six others ran aground resulting in the death of at least 41 people and the disappearance of 89 others.

On Saturday, a report quoted Gordon as saying that at least 324 fishermen died and 804 went missing after their fishing vessels were battered by the typhoon.

Gordon on Sunday told dzBB that the fatalities among fishermen could even be bigger than those who died when the Sulpicio Lines-owned MV Princess of the Stars capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon province last June 21. The vessel had more than 800 passengers. Gordon said on Sunday that rescuers found 51 survivors from the shipwreck.

“Ang tingin ko, marami pang nawawalang fishermen," ( I think that there are still many fishermen missing)," said Gordon, who also told dzBB that the report on fishermen’s casualty did not yet include the incident in Borangan City in Surigao del Norte where rescuers found at least 12 survivors.

‘Frank’ left hundreds of fishermen dead, missing
07/06/2008 | 01:30 PM

Sibuyan islanders, nation's bast face

SAN FERNANDO, Sibuyan Island--This town of 22,000 that continues to cope with a double tragedy has earned praise as "the best face" of a nation.

On a flying visit here on Thursday afternoon, Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Philippine National Red Cross, lauded the town for its strength in helping respond to a tragedy in its waters and a disaster on its shores--the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars and the devastation wrought by Typhoon "Frank" inland.

"San Fernando was wide awake reporting to us what was happening [when the ship sank]. I'm here to honor you, I'm here applauding you," Gordon told some 1,000 residents who turned up for his visit at the town plaza.

"San Fernando is showing the best face of what a country should be at all times," he said.

The senator visited the town 12 days after Frank's battering waves sank the passenger vessel owned by Sulpicio Lines Inc. and destroyed homes and schools close to the shore.

"Pardon me if I wasn't able to bring relief goods here immediately...I'm very happy to see that morale is high," said Gordon, who arrived some seven hours later than scheduled because of bad weather.

During his hourlong stay, Gordon distributed Red Cross relief packs to residents and posed for pictures with them. But he stressed that his visit should not be taken as a political gimmick.

"I'm not here as a politician giving dole-outs...I'm not expecting you to give me anything in return," he said.

Gordon lauds Sibuyan islanders as nation's 'best face'
By Tarra Quismundo, Madonna Virola
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 00:26:00 07/05/2008

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Appeal for 89 missing Cadiz fishermen

BACOLOD CITY—Sen. Richard Gordon Wednesday called on the Coast Guard, the Navy and ships to exert more effort in searching for fishermen from Cadiz City still missing at sea.

“It is scandalous and alarming that we don’t care enough for the small fishermen. They are honest people who work hard to get food on the table for lots of people,” said Gordon, who visited Cadiz to see what assistance could be provided.

As of Wednesday, there were 41 dead fishermen who have been identified and seven others unidentified, and 89 others missing from 35 Cadiz vessels hit by Typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) on June 21.

“I have heard reports of some vessels just passing floating bodies, and even survivors, in the past. They should pick them up. It is a crime not to do so,” Gordon said.

He said only the missing from big vessels were getting all the attention, and that the small fishermen were practically being ignored.

“There should be equal focus,” he said.

Gordon, who heads the Philippine National Red Cross, said the PNRC had been helping in the search for the Cadiz fishermen and providing stress debriefing to enable their families to cope.

Those who are most in need and most vulnerable should be given assistance, too, he said.

Gordon appeals for 89 missing Cadiz fishermen
By Carla Gomez
Visayas Bureau
First Posted 06:21:00 07/03/2008

Improve Maritime Safety

MANILA, Philippines -- Citing the devastation caused by typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) as a “wake-up call,” Senator Richard Gordon, Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) chairman, called on the government to improve maritime safety.

“Typhoon ‘Frank’ was a wake-up call. We must implement measures to prevent the loss of the lives of our fishermen. We must improve our forecasting equipment, our maritime regulations and our rescue facilities to ensure that this tragedy never happens again,” Gordon said during his visit to typhoon-ravaged Cadiz City on Wednesday.

Gordon and volunteers from PNRC visited the cities of Cadiz and Victoria in Negros Occidental to provide relief to fishermen and families whose loved ones died during the onslaught of the typhoon last June 22.

Twenty-two vessels sank in Cadiz City, leaving 89 missing, 41 dead, and 289 rescued from the crew.

In Victoria City, 10 are reportedly missing until now, Gordon said.

“This calamity has greatly affected the lives [of fishermen]. A lot of them have lost their means of livelihood. We must ensure that they are given the proper assistance and support to rise up from this tragedy,” he added.

Gordon said the government should provide both the weather bureau the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Philippine Coastguard with better equipment and facilities.

“A special bulletin should also be made exclusively for fishermen to provide them with early warning and reduce the risk of maritime disasters on small fishing vessels,” he added.

Affected fishermen should also be given “soft loans,” or loans that could be paid in easy terms, with the help of World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, Gordon said.

Gordon: ‘Improve maritime safety’
By Abigail Kwok
First Posted 17:42:00 07/02/2008

19 Fishermen rescued after 11 days

MANILA, Philippines -- Nineteen fishermen from Surigao del Norte were rescued Monday after being adrift at sea for 11 days when their boat capsized at the height of Typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen).

Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), immediately directed the PNRC Eastern Samar Chapter to provide medical attention and assistance to the fishermen after learning of the rescue report filed by the Red Cross provincial office.

According to the report, the fishermen left Surigao del Norte on June 16 at the height of the typhoon. They were later found adrift at the vicinity of Borongan on July 1 by Erwin Encio, a fishing boat owner from Borongan City.
Gordon said he instructed his men to check the medical condition of the fishermen to make sure they were in good condition.

“These fishermen survived the wrath of Typhoon Frank. They have been through a lot of hardship and pain. They should be given proper medical attention to ensure their immediate recovery,” Gordon said.

Gordon identified the survivors as Cesar Gabato, Jegan Nillas, Rolito Barbatillo, Benigno Arias, Edsel Espenosa, Jay-Ar Pailden, Joselito Mahusay, Francis Allonar, Rodel Abule, Edmund Buhian Jr., Effren Rivales, Joel de la Cruz, Bambie Ramirez, Nelson Arsaga, Alexander Gabato, Gino Rendon, Rogelio Jalog, Marlon Gabato and Romeo Gecosa.

They were taken to the Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital in Borongan City where they are now recuperating.

Gordon said the Red Cross had prepared food for the survivors and would shoulder their accommodations once they are discharged from the hospital.

PNRC Eastern Samar also coordinated with the PNRC Surigao del Norte Chapter to ensure that relatives of these fishermen are informed of their rescue.

19 fishermen rescued after 11 days
By Cynthia Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:27:00 07/02/2008