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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pupils face greater risks due to lack of health manpower in public schools

Elementary and high school students face greater health risks due not only to the absence of adequate medical facilities but also to the lack of health care personnel in 43,000 public schools across the country, Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today said.

Gordon said the lack of medical and health manpower in public schools affects students’ concentration and performance when the simple health complaints they feel are not treated just because there are no enough personnel to do so.

“When a child is in school and he feels a simple headache but there are no nurses or medical officers who would attend to him, that simple ailment would affect him the whole day and he would not be able to listen well to the teacher and concentrate on the lessons,” he said.

“We must realize how vulnerable our children are, especially when they are in school where they are exposed to more danger and possible sicknesses. That is why we must ensure that there are doctors, dentists and nurses available to take care of them while they are in school,” he added.

Government figures show that the country’s public school system only has 154 medical officers, 617 school dentists, 3,254 school nurses, 570 dental aides, and 32 nutritionist-dietitians attending to more than 17 million public school pupils.

The current health personnel to pupil ratio is at one medical officer to 80,000 students; one school dentist to 20,000 pupils; and one school nurse to 5,000 students.

“The number of health personnel we have in our public schools is really disappointing. Only one school nurse is assigned to 5,000 students. If two or three students feel sick at the same time, the nurse would have a hard time taking care of the sick pupils’ needs,” Gordon said.

Gordon explained that the problem of shortage in medical and health personnel is an urgent concern since it is the physical condition of students which are at stake in this dilemma.

He said that one way to address the predicament is through his ‘text-for-change’ proposal which seeks to augment government resources to fill the gap in the country’s health and education requirements by requiring telecommunications companies to remit part of their net income from local text messaging.

“When this bill is enacted into law, we will be able to hire enough doctors, nurses, dentists, and even nutritionists, who would look after the health needs of students. We will also build or upgrade school clinics and provide for regular vaccination and dental check-up programs,” Gordon said.

“We say that health is wealth. We say that our youth is the hope of our future. But more than saying these things, we must act to show how much we truly value them. If we take the necessary actions to improve the health of our students, we prove our children how significant they really are for our country,” he added.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Freedom of 120 sick and elderly women inmates sought

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today appealed to President Arroyo to grant executive clemency to about 120 elderly and sickly women prisoners in consonance with her administration’ s much-avowed policy of humanitarian compassion.

Gordon made the appeal in a formal request he, along with Zonta Club of Makati, sent to the President on behalf of the 120 women inmates who are either terminally ill or are 70 years old at the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City.

"These poor and unprivileged women prisoners are deserving of executive clemency. Over a dozen of them have terminal illnesses and more than a hundred are already weak in their advanced age,” he said.

“Their continued incarceration in one of the country's most congested prisons amount to cruel and inhuman punishment – this is something we should never condone as a society," he added.

Gordon has earlier secured the release of three women prisoners who were over 70 years old even as he hoped to have nine more women inmates to be released and reunited with their loved ones before Christmas.

These three women prisoners released were Rosita Barba, 78, and was sentenced to life imprisonment for illegal recruitment; Rosaria Dapuay, 74, and Anita Goronia, 80, who were both convicted for selling illegal drugs.

Gordon, a lawyer by profession, stressed that justice be tempered with mercy and compassion as society's higher mission should be to restore dignity and alleviate human suffering wherever it exists.

“These women prisoners are no longer threats to society and are in need of special care which may not be provided adequately by the government,” he said.

Although it can only accommodate 500 prisoners, the CIW, one of the country's most crowded prisons, currently hosts about 900 women prisoners. In 2007, 15 inmates had died of advanced age or terminal illness while in confinement at the CIW.

In requesting the immediate release of the aged female prisoners, Gordon cited Memorandum Order 155 issued by President Arroyo on November 17, 2004 which directed the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Board of Pardons and Parole to submit the names of 70 year old inmates who may be granted executive clemency.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Swift action vs drunk driving

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today asked the Senate leadership to act with dispatch on a measure increasing fines and penalties against the act of driving under the influence of liquor and/or prohibited drugs.

Gordon made the call as he expressed serious concern over an increasing incidence of vehicular accidents in the country that either maimed or killed not only drivers but also passengers and pedestrians alike.

"Drunk driving - or driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs - remains a big problem in our country that has not been properly addressed," he said.

Government statistics shows that road accidents in Metro Manila involving fatal and non-fatal incidents have increased, from 5,584 incidents in January to June 2007 to 5,702 incidents in 2008 for the same period.

Gordon said a significant increase in the number of road accidents is much possible for the second half of the year considering that such incidents had already risen in the first half of 2008.

He explained that the country badly needs to amend the 1964 Land Transportation and Traffic Code, which is already antiquated and thus, should be overhauled to address the gravity of the drunk driving problem, among others.

"Liquor is the most abused substance in the country and in the whole world today. Therefore, there must be full personal and social responsibility for the incidence of drunk driving in our country," he said.

Gordon has filed Senate Bill (SB) 141 which seeks to penalize drunk driving, such that a person found driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs shall be punished with the penalty of prision correccional under the Revised Penal Code (RPC), or a fine of P20,000 to P80,000, or both.

Meanwhile, a person driving under the influence resulting to: (a) physical injury will be punished with penalties as provided in Art. 263 of the RPC; and, (b) homicide shall be punished with the same penalty as provided for murder in Art. 249 of the RPC.

The Gordon bill and four other similar measures - SB 83, 760, 770, and 1527 filed by Senate President Manuel Villar, Antonio Trillanes IV, Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor Santiago, respectively - have been long referred to the Senate justice and human rights committee chaired by Sen. Francis Escudero.

The House of Representatives had already passed on third and final reading a similar measure, logged as House Bill 4893, more than two years ago. It was authored by Rep. Eduardo Zialcita.

Gordon said the government should view drunk driving as a "grave public concern" that should be dealt with more seriously not only by imposing stiff fines but also by tackling it through a comprehensive systems approach.

This approach, he pointed out, includes the importance of driver education, mandatory alcohol and drug testing of drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents, and the establishment of a drunk driving prevention fund.

Gordon also said his proposed measure also seeks to require alcohol beverage manufacturers to conduct public information campaigns about drunk driving and its deleterious effects.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

House needs to fast-track passage of tourism bill

MANILA, Oct. 22 — Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today urged the House leadership to fast-track the passage of a bill that would give a needed boost to domestic tourism to ward off possible adverse effect the global crisis may have on the country's economy.

Gordon made the call as some 200 delegates from around 100 countries gather for the Sixth International Tourism Forum for Parliamentarians and Local Authorities at the Shangri-la Mactan Island Resort and Spa in Cebu.

"The world is seeing the importance of tourism in coping with the challenges brought by the current global financial crisis, which is why we must act now to reinvigorate domestic tourism," he said.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate tourism committee, called on his colleagues in the Lower House to immediately pass a counterpart bill of the Senate's Tourism Act of 2008 (Senate Bill 2213), which was already passed on third reading last June 11.

SB 2213 has three counterpart bills in the House of Representatives, namely, House Bill (HB) 952 by Speaker Prospero Nograles, HB 4 by Rep. Edgar Chatto, and HB 173 by Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, which are all pending before the House tourism committee chaired by Chatto.

"I urge my colleagues in the House, especially my counterpart chairman in the tourism committee, to immediately act upon these bills and ensure its passage to strengthen the country' tourism industry," Gordon said.

"The government should boost domestic tourism by providing needed infrastructures and right policy that would reinvigorate local productivity. An increased productivity in domestic tourism means more jobs created for the people and more revenues generated to the government," he added.

Gordon, also a former tourism secretary, said the country should reinvigorate domestic tourism in order to lure local tourists from traveling within the country. One way is for local government units to learn how to be more self-reliant in promoting their respective localities' rich history and culture, he added.

With international travels seen to be minimized because of the global financial crisis, Gordon said this should prompt the local tourism and hospitality industries to be bullish with their promotions of domestic tourism.

The Senate Tourism Act seeks to declare a national policy for tourism as an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development. It also aims to reorganize the tourism department and its attached agencies to effectively and efficiently implement that policy.

Gordon said the bill would allow the establishment of "tourism enterprise zones" in the country aimed at enticing foreign investors and tourists to visit places rich with history and culture.

These "tourism zones", which will be set up in strategic areas such as Cebu, Davao, Bohol, Laguna, Cavite, Boracay, Palawan and Iloilo, would boost the Philippines as a premier tourism destination not only in the Asia-Pacific region but also to the rest of the world. (PNA)


Mandatory 8-hour-a-day work for convicted prisoners

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today pushed for a strictly supervised work program in selected government projects among the estimated 85,000 prisoners serving their sentences in various jails across the country.

Believing in the power of work to reform and instill a strong sense of self-worth, Gordon reiterated his proposal contained in Senate Bill 282, which would enable detained and convicted prisoners to participate in a supervised work program.

“A person who is committed to prison must lead a productive life and not be a burden to the State while in the process of rehabilitation and reformation into a law-abiding and responsible citizen,” he said.

“Prison work program I am proposing would also promote discipline and enhance the prisoner’s self-respect, self-confidence, personal dignity and sense of responsibility by allowing him to pay for his own keep while in prison,” he added.

Gordon reiterated his proposal as the nation observes 21st Prison Awareness Week aimed at bringing dignity back to the thousands of prisoners now languishing in various jails nationwide.

Under SB 282, detained prisoners or those prisoners who are awaiting final court verdict may be allowed to volunteer for work in prison, reforestation, infrastructure and other government projects.

For convicted prisoners fit and eligible to a manual work, they are mandated to work for eight hours a day with a rest period of not less than 24 consecutive hours after six consecutive normal working days.

The Bureau of Corrections or the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology would also establish a secure work program for qualified prisoners outside the prison proper and in reforestation, infrastructure and other government projects.

These qualified prisoners would be required to wear distinctly-colored outer garments and other appropriate devices that would preserve and secure proper custody over them as well as security to the general public.

“We can have prisoners participate in building additional jail cells and common areas under strict supervision. It will save the state money which would otherwise go to paying labor, decongest the jail, and may even provide prisoners a morale boost as they engage in productive work -- instead of just counting the days or plotting against their fellow prisoners,” Gordon explained.

Gordon bill would allow a compensation for prisoners who shall embrace the prison work program in the form of taxed due the government from income, support of the prisoner, such as board, food, clothing, payment of civil liability arising from crime, support of the prisoner’s dependents, payment for legal representation or other obligations prisoner may have owned up.

“As prisoners, they may be thought of as dangerous and destructive people. As prison workers employed in reforestation or even roads, they will be seen as nurturers and builders,” he added.

Gordon also said that the work program may also teach the prisoners useful skills which may get them jobs after they have served their term.

“It will even teach them that they have great worth and lead them to realize true freedom as they liberate themselves from thinking that they are mere victims – that they have the power to redeem themselves,” he said. (30/prf)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

P6B needed for govt feeding program next year

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday said the government needs at least P6 billion to fully cover the nutritional needs of millions of preschool and Grades 1 and 2 pupils in the country for the next school year.

In a press statement, Gordon said the Arroyo administration proposed an increase from P2.5 billion to P3.34 billion budget allocation for the "Malusog na Simula, Yaman ng Bansa" nutrition program under the 2009 General Appropriations Bill.

The senator said next year's proposed budget for feeding program is still not enough to cover the nutrition needs of about 500,000 preschoolers, 2.5 million grade 1 pupils, and 2 million grade 2 pupils.

"We need at least six billion pesos to come up with an ideal feeding program, where each student is allocated P10 everyday for 120 days," Gordon said.

The National Nutrition Council, an attached agency of the Department of Health, now handles the feeding program which was previously under the Department of Education (DepEd).

Because of this, Gordon asked the government to put more funds on the health care and nutrition needs of the country's more than 17 million public school pupils in 43,000 public schools nationwide.

"Our pupils need not only quality education but also health and nutrition programs to ensure that they will perform well in school because they are properly nourished and physically fit," Gordon said.

"The inadequate fund for feeding programs is just part of a bigger problem. We also have to address the lack of school clinics and clean comfort rooms, and the shortage of health manpower," he added.

The senator said the country only has 154 medical officers, 617 school dentists, 3,254 school nurses, 570 dental aides, and 32 nutritionist-dieticians for the more than 17 million public school students in the country.

He said this translates to the current health personnel-student ratio which is one medical officer is to 80,000 students; one school dentist is to 20,000 students; and one school nurse is to 5,000 students.

"We have to realize that poor health stunts the physical and mental development of children seriously affecting their full potential to become productive citizens of the country," Gordon said.

The official said this is the importance of the passage of his 'text-for-change' bill, or the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP).

He said the health care services among public school pupils would significantly improve and the needed health and medical personnel would be hired once HEAP is implemented.

Under the HEAP bill, telecommunications companies would remit to the HEAP Corporation a portion of their net profits from local text messaging to generate funds that would be used to finance the country's education and health care requirements.

Gordon: P6B needed for govt feeding program next year
Amita Legaspi, GMANews.TV
10/16/2008 | 01:27 PM

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Proper hand hygiene among public school pupils

MANILA — Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today pushed for proper hand hygiene among public school pupils as he noted that millions of children are afflicted with numerous diseases due to lack of sanitation.

During Wednesday's celebration of the first-ever Global Handwashing Day at the West Rembo Sports Complex in Makati City, Gordon urged public school pupils present in the event to practice regular handwashing to prevent infections and illnesses brought by improper hygiene.

"We should make handwashing a habit so that we would not be vulnerable to diseases usually caused by bacterial infections," Gordon told the school children.

"Children in our country are at a greater risk of suffering from diarrheal infection and intestinal worms, not only because of improper hygiene, but also due to substandard sanitary facilities in our public schools," he added.

Gordon noted the lack of toilet bowls in public schools is enough to expose students to various viral infections which could lead to diseases such as diarrhea, the fourth leading cause of deaths among children less than five years and the third leading cause of child illness.

The country's toilet bowl to student ratio is at 1:151 for grade school pupils and 1:102 for high school students. In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the ratio is at 1:171 for elementary and 1:250 for secondary students.

Gordon said the reason for such lack in clean school facilities is the inadequate funds for health and education infrastructures.

The Department of Education's (DepEd) 2007 budget for medical, dental health and nursing services is only at P40 million for the more than 17 million students enrolled in elementary and secondary public schools in school year 2006-2007.

Gordon said such predicament is one of the reasons why he wants the immediate passage of his 'text-for-change' bill or the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP), which seeks to fund backlogs in education and health infrastructures by requiring telecommunications companies (telcos) to remit a portion of their net earnings from local text messaging.

"Health facilities and environmental sanitation are needed in many schools which can improve the health status of our school children. Through the HEAP bill, there will be a comprehensive medical and dental treatment for the pupils and their teachers," he said.

"Providing our school children with better sanitary facilities and teaching them good hygiene through proper handwashing would protect them against many diseases and would allow them to do better in school because they are fit and healthy," he added. (PNA)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On the Supreme Court's decision declaring as unconstitutional the GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain

"I am glad that the Supreme Court has finally ruled on the constitutionality of the controversial agreement that has polarized us as a nation and as a people. I do hope that with the High Court's decision, all stakeholders of the peace negotiations between the government and Muslim rebel group would respect the rule of law and avoid sending mixed signals that would cast serious doubts about each one's sincerity to pursue the long-hoped-for peace in Mindanao.

"I also specifically urge the MILF leadership to exert moral suasion among its ranks in order to avert any potential escalation of violence. As it is now on the ground, it is the more than half a million innocent civilians who continue to suffer heavily from the heightened clashes between the military and Muslim rebels.

"Let us not further compound the humanitarian challenge confronting us in Mindanao. Rather, we need to go back to the negotiating table. The soonest we talk peace, the better it is for the national interest. We have every need and every responsibility to forge a common ground that would lead to a final peace settlement and would usher in new developments in Mindanao. Genuine development thrives when lasting peace reigns. We cannot therefore allow the present armed conflict to continue indefinitely, much less to escalate into a full-blown crisis.

Monday, October 13, 2008


GORDON AT THE GLOBAL INDIAN DIASPORA CONFAB: Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon confers with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) at the sideline of the Global Indian Diaspora Conference held at the Suntec City Convention Centre, Singapore last Oct. 10. Gordon was one of guest speakers of the two-day conference where he made a strong pitch for the urgency among various governments to boost domestic tourism in order to ward off the potential adverse impact the global financial crisis may have on local and regional economies, notably in Asia-Pacific region.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How tourism copes with global crisis

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today talks about how the international tourism and hospitality industry can cope up with the present global financial crisis that is slowing down other economies across the world, including Asia .

Gordon, chairman of the Senate tourism committee and former tourism secretary, is scheduled to deliver his speech entitled "Hope for tourism at a time of global financial crisis" at the Suntec City Convention Centre, Singapore at 2 p.m. today.

He is among the four other resource speakers for the conference who shall also talk about tourism and hospitality industry along the theme of the two-day Global Indian Diaspora Conference, also popularly known as Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam is expected to be present when Gordon delivers his speech.

The conference brings together other top Indian businessmen from Asia Pacific region to the Singapore meeting, which focuses on economic issues related to India and the global financial crisis.

It will address global issues, such as climate change and energy security, and explore business collaborations in sectors such as infrastructure, tourism and hospitality, science and technology, finance and banking, and youth and education.

The conference is a platform for the Indian corporate diaspora in the Asia Pacific region and those with interest in the Indian market to meet and explore new business opportunities.

It is organized by the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and co-organized by India 's Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

'Text-for-change' bill to create more jobs and livelihood

The proposed text revenue-sharing measure that would require telecommunication companies (telcos) to remit part of their net profits from local text messaging to fund the country's health and education requirements will pump prime the nation's economy by providing jobs and livelihood, Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today said.

During Thursday's No Holds Barred forum at the National Press Club, Gordon said the 'text-for-change' measure would not only improve the educational and health care systems of the country but also pump prime the economy by generating more jobs and livelihood.

"If we start building all the schools our country lacks, we will be in need of more carpenters and masons, therefore generating more jobs for our people. We will hire more workers and boost the hardware business because they will be the suppliers of construction materials, and we could end up pump priming our economy overnight," he said.

The country currently needs 9,754 classrooms; 4,121,009 school seats; and 63,178,377 textbooks. The construction and purchase of these needed infrastructures is the priority of Senate Bill 2402, or the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP).

Gordon said the measure would also provide employment for more professionals such as teachers and medical practitioners, which the country's educational system also lacks..

The public school system still needs 39,762 teachers; 8,499 principals; and more medical practitioners and health workers to improve the health personnel to pupil ratio currently at one medical officer is to 80,000 pupils; one school dentist is to 20,000 pupils; and one school nurse is to 5,000 pupils.

"Through HEAP we will be able to hire all the educators and health workers our schools need, at the same time providing for more employment, preventing more professionals from leaving the country to work overseas," Gordon said.

"We must realize the many benefits that we would gain once this bill is passed into law. It will benefit not only the youth of today but also the generations of the future," he added.

SB 2402 proposes to require telcos to share part of their net revenues from local text messaging to help fund the HEAP Corporation, which will spearhead the rehabilitation and acceleration of education and health infrastructures in the country.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

HEAP bill heaps up support

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today thanked Sen. Edgardo Angara and leaders of private and public school teachers' organizations for their unequivocal support to his proposal requiring telecommunication companies to remit a portion of their net profits from local text messaging to fund the country's education and health care requirements.

At the resumption of Senate hearing on Senate Bill (SB) 2402, Gordon said more and more people and organizations are now realizing the massive benefits his proposal would bring for the education and health care of the millions of public school children nationwide.

"I am convinced that the support we continuously get from different sectors of our society is more than enough to say that this bill will eventually be passed into law. The people are starting to see the massive benefits that this measure would bring our country," he said.

Those who also expressed support to SB 2402, or the "text-for-change" bill, are Dr. Loureli Siy, president of Private Secondary Schools Administrators Association of the Philippines; Dr. Bonifacio Miguel and Dr. Marino Baytec of the Public School Teachers Association.

The Department of Finance (DoF), represented by Lina Isorena of the National Tax Research Center, an attached agency of the DoF; and the Kiwanis Club International also threw their strong support to Gordon's proposal.

SB 2402, or the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP), seeks to raise the country's investment on education and health care system, thereby improving the measly allocation of P6,354 the national government gives for every public school pupil.

As compared to Thailand's budget per student at P47,700; Malaysia at P56,846; United States at P123,200; and Japan at P293,440, the Philippines grossly lags behind other countries in terms of budgetary allocation per student.

Angara, who was present during the hearing of the Senate public corporations committee, expressed utmost support to the bill, stressing that it is one of the best ideas on the improvement of the country's educational system ever put forward.

"In a way, this is really a rescue plan for our youth, in the same manner that there is a rescue plan for the world's financial industry. I think it's more urgent because it's closer to home to rescue, to bailout our youth because the deterioration of our educational standards is not only ongoing but it is so rapid and accelerated as well," he said.

Angara is a former President of the University of the Philippines and author of many laws on education reform including the Free High School Act and the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education.

Both Gordon and Angara agree that the proposed measure would not be a burden on the backs of the consumers because it is the telecommunication companies (telcos) which will have to apportion part of their multi-billion revenues from local text messaging to fund the country's educational and health infrastructures.

Gordon said more and more sectors expressed support to the bill because they believe that the dismal condition of the nation's educational and health care system is a matter that needs to be immediately addressed and that the telcos have excess revenues which can help augment government resources for health and education.

"Education is an integral element of a nation. Good education would result to competent students that would become skilled workers and professionals who would bring development and progress to our country," he added.

Education Assistant Secretary Thelma Santos said they are hoping for the immediate enactment of the HEAP bill since they have been lobbying for five years now for the passage of a bill that would rehabilitate the country's educational and health care systems.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Maestranza Wall, Intramuros Cornerstone Laying

GORDON LEADS MAESTRANZA WALL CORNERSTONE LAYING CEREMONY: Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon, together with Intramuros Administrator head Anna Maria Harper, Japanese Minister for Economic Affairs Tomochika Oyama, and Tourism Secretary Ace Durano, led the cornerstone laying ceremony of the ruined portion of the Maestranza Curtain Wall in Intramuros, Manila. The Maestranza Wall is part of Intramuros’ external walls that was bombed by the Japanese forces during the World War II. Through the efforts of Senator Gordon, the Japanese government released the money needed for the restoration of the wall to finally rebuild Manila’s Walled City.

‘Text- for-change’ no tax burden for telcos

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Richard Gordon on Wednesday clarified that his "text- for-change" measure would not impose additional taxes on telecommunication companies.

In a phone interview, Gordon said Senate Bill 2402 would require telecommunication companies to set aside a portion of their net profits from local text messaging to bankroll financial requirements for public school and health infrastructures.

If the bill will be approved, telecom companies will be giving 20 centavos of every text sent to fund the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP)

"It will be a sharing of revenues but no new taxes will be imposed either on the companies or their subscribers," the senator told GMANews.TV.

He said based on estimates, telecommunication companies, notably Smart, Globe and Sun Cellular, have been raking in P2 billion or more from local text messaging (short messaging system or SMS), sent daily by more than 60 million mobile phone subscribers nationwide alone.

He said aside from stiff opposition from various sectors, which misunderstood the objective of his proposal, the telcos had expressed reservations over the passage of the bill.

The senator said he would remain undeterred by criticisms. He said telcos will have "a heart and a conscience" for poor school children who have long been suffering from the pitiful state of the country's educational and health care systems due to lack of government resources.

"I expect a David-and-Goliath fight here, but I shall remain unperturbed and undeterred by initial reservations. I believe that people would soon realize we need to pool our resources together to address the shortages in our education and health system," Gordon said.

"We have waited for years and nothing seems to happen. We must therefore make a tough decision now if we genuinely want our country to compete in the global market and become what we hope it to be, that is at par with the first world countries," the senator added.

He said it is not only the responsibility of the national government to uplift the country's educational and health care systems, but also of private businesses that shall stand to benefit once investments in the country's education and health care infrastructures are set well in place.

"Under our modern democratic system, our demands and expectations for access to quality of education and health care should be equally matched with our responsibility to contribute in investing for the future of our nation and our children," Gordon said.

He said the country suffers from an existing backlog of 12,418 classrooms at the cost of P6.95 billion; 1,744,237 school seats at P1.39 billion; 44,200,000 textbooks at P2.78 billion; 12,733 teachers at P2.48 billion and an additional P25 million for their training; and 24,709 principals at P4.43 billion.

Gordon said he is inviting the leaders of big businesses, not limited to telco giants, to heed the pleas of millions of poor public school pupils and their teachers by supporting his measure than passing brunt of it to the already-burdened consumers.

The Senate government corporations and public enterprises committee chaired by Gordon will resume public hearing on "text-for-change" bill next week to thresh out a revenue-sharing scheme with the telecommunication leaders and other stakeholders. - GMANews.TV

Gordon: ‘Text- for-change’ no tax burden for telcos
10/01/2008 | 10:27 PM