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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Comelec should push through with poll automation

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) must do everything in its capacity to push through with the automation of the May 2010 Elections, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today said.

Gordon, principal author of the amended Automated Elections System Law, made the statement after Comelec chairman Jose Melo said that there is a slim chance of having automated elections next year after the pull-out of Total Information Management Corp. (TIM) from its joint venture with Smartmatic to supply the poll body with the voting machines.

"Napakaselan nitong sitwasyon na ito. Hindi ito biro at hindi dapat agad-agad nagde-desisyon ng ganyan ang Comelec dahil ang lumalabas wala na silang magagawa. Dapat pilitin nila dahil yan ang mandato sa kanila ng batas," he said.

"The country cannot be held hostage by just one bidder. We have fought long and worked hard for the passage of this law. And now that we are about to have it, the Comelec cannot just give up too quick and surrender the fate of the whole country to one entity," he added.

Gordon said there are still options for the Comelec after the TIM withdrew from the contract.

First, it can disqualify Smartmatic-TIM and undertake and reconsider the submission of the other bidders under the post-qualification procedure to get the next lowest calculated bid (LCB), until an award is made.

Second, in the interest of efficiency and considering that automating the 2010 elections is a matter of paramount national importance, the Comelec can resort to limited source bidding.

For limited source bidding, the Comelec shall directly invite a set of pre-selected suppliers or consultants with known experience and proven capability relative to the requirements of supplying an automated elections system, to bid for the contract.

Also, the Comelec may adjust its Terms of Reference to perhaps allow 100% foreign suppliers, manufacturers and/or distributors to join the bidding, as the goods sought to be procured are not available from local sources.

The requirement for 60% Filipino equity for the supply of goods is found only in the implementing rules and regulations of the Government Procurement Reform Act and not in the law itself.

"Dapat pilitin natin ang Comelec na gumalaw dahil kaya naman nilang gawin yan eh. We have been trying to automate our elections since 1997; it took us four years to pass the law; and we have succeeded in the ARMM elections; and so we cannot allow this incident to ruin the automation of our elections and the modernization of Philippine democracy," Gordon said.

"This election automation is something we cannot afford to lose. We must make it happen so that for once, we can have honest, clean, speedy and credible elections," he added.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gov't to pay for televised presidential debates

The government should pay for airtimes to be allotted for televised debates wherein all presidential aspirants in the May 2010 national elections will participate, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) made the proposal today.

Gordon explained that televised debates would stop politicians from prematurely spending for political ads that are already clogging the airtimes though the campaign period prescribed by the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) has yet to start.

The OEC prescribes a 90-day campaign period before Election Day for national candidates. However, months before the filing of certificates of candidacy, reports said some politicians are already spending millions of pesos for television ads alone.

"Hindi naman yata tama na ang lalaki na ng gastos nung mga kumakanditong naka-anunsiyo. Kung totoo ang report, may pananagutan silang lahat. You are violating what the law prohibits. Kaya nga nilagyan tayo ng 90-day campaign period. The whole law (OEC) was formulated to make sure that nobody should be allowed to campaign before the campaign period," he said.

"Ito ang proposal ko para mawala lahat iyan. I'm proposing a bill that the government will foot all the bills for presidential candidates. But the bill will only be for a limited number of TV time, limited number of radio time, and the government must sponsor debates. Para mura ang kampanya, no more expenditures," he added.

Gordon has earlier filed Senate Bill 2079, mandating major television and radio networks to sponsor at least three national debates among presidential candidates and at least one national debate among vice presidential candidates.

Under SB 2079, he proposed that each debate shall not be less than sixty minutes, exclusive of airtime for commercials and advertisements to help the Filipino electorate get to know each presidential candidate's qualifications, his stands on issues, among others.

"The debates would also enjoin a candidate to prepare and offer for scrutiny his concrete action plans in consonance with his or her platform of government in order to weigh more favorably against the opponents," the senator said.

KAPIHAN SA SENADO 6/25/09: On BAGUMBAYAN and Premature Campaigning

Q: Kumusta na ang Bagumbayan?

Sen. Gordon: It’s moving very well. I think it’s gonna happen (accreditation). They’ll (Comelec) make up their own decision. People have been talking to us. I get text messages from people I don’t know. They text me when they hear about it, they want to join, they want to support.

Again, I say this. It is my right. In this country, it is permissible to question our leaders, right? By the media, by their fellow politicians and by the citizenry. In fact it is the duty of people to question their leaders. I will question this fact, I will question the Comelec, I will question the people concerned, and I will question the media. The information I got came from the Philippine Star. Why is it that we are allowing people to, in effect, violate the law very, very immorally by campaigning, spending just on television P321M as of June, one candidate, Mr. Villar. Mr. Roxas, P252M.

Why is there such as deafening silence when money of the government is being spent, P115M, in the case of Jojo Binay. Nakalagay doon, I’m quoting Star, Makati City government funds. I’m, quoting again Phil. Star, Kabayan P41M from Pag-Ibig Funds. I’m quoting again Phil. Star in the case of Mr. Gilbert Teodoro, NDCC P33M. Why are we so quiet? The law was made to limit the campaign period para sag anon, hindi makakagastos ng todo-todo ang kandidato. Mali ang Comelec pag sinabi nila na magiging kandidato ka lang pag nag-file ka ng certificate of candidacy. That is just a formality that you have to make to signify that you are already a candidate formally. Para malinaw na sumusunod ka doon sa batas na 90-day period in the case of national officials. But are you trying to tell me na hindi pa nangangampanya ang isang tao na gumagastos na ng P321M sa television pa lang? Ano ba ang akala niyo sa mga tao dito, mga mangmang? P252M ang ginagastos, hindi pa nangangampanya yun? Niloloko natin ang sarili nating bansa. And that’s why I’m saying this election will be flawed not by automated elections but by gold.. You are already seeing the manifestation of gold. And in the process, you are weakening the moral spine of this country.

Q: Yung Lakas-Kampi at Bagumbayan po ba may nilulutong coalition?

Sen. Gordon: Wala. Kinausap ako ni Pres. Ramos, and you can ask him, sinabi niya, siguro Dick, mas maganda sumama ka sa Lakas. Sabi ko Sir, sasama ako sa Lakas kung kayo ang presidente, kung kayo ang leader. Kayo mag-imbita sa akin, ok sa akin yan pero coalition ng Bagumbayan. Gusto ko yung Bagumbayan malinaw. Sinabi yan ni Pres. Ramos.

Q: Pero walang nakikipag-usap sa inyo?

Sen. Gordon: Si Pres. Ramos, the founder of Lakas.

Q: Kampi has taken over Lakas?

Sen. Gordon: I don’t believe in that. What does Lakas stand for, what does Kampi stand for? What does Nacionalista Party stand for? Who owns it? Where’s the money of Nacionalista? Saan galing ang pera ng Nacionalista? Saan galing ang pera ng Liberal?

Q: Sa sipag at tiyaga?

Sen. Gordon: Yun ang sasabihin niyo.. Na binibigay ng mga tao na? Ano ba maganda sabihin don? Alam ko yung susunod e, at tanga.

I am searching for answers.. Why is the silence deafening? Mabuti nilabas ng Phil. Star. Is it because media is making money out of the politicians? You are willing to listen to Comelec, yet you are questioning the Comelec’s capability to run an automated elections? Which is more important to us?

Premature campaigning? It’s simply, not gun-gold diplomacy, but gold politics. It is the arrogance of money. You mean to tell me you cannot run for all these unless you have money now? Excuse me! I need P3B? I don’t believe so, that’s what Villar said. I don’t believe that.

Q: Sir, kung tatakbo kayo, wala kayong balak mag-ads?

Sen. Gordon: Not between now and the elections, until 90 days before the elections.

Q: So maglalagay din kayo ng ads?

Sen. Gordon: Oh definitely. Hindi ka mananalo. Paano naman malalaman? But I think, dapat ang gawin ng mga media kung papayagan nyo yan, bigyan nyo ng level playing field. My suggestion is kung hindi natin maso-solve yang problemang yan, let the government pay for the presidential candidates’ advertising. And limit the advertising of Villar, of Roxas and all those with money and say ito lang ang pwedeng gastusin para sa ganoon sigurado ako na pag nanalo ang mga iyan, hindi nila babawiin yan. At para masigurado ko na hindi ako mapipilitang humingi ng pera sa malalaking tao para sa ganun pag tinanggap ko pag nag-presidente ako, hindi ako makiki-utang na loob sa mga taong yan.

I don’t mind advertising, pero ilagay natin sa lugar. Yung P321M o yung P252M na yan, kung may mahirap kailangan niya ng Norvasc, ilang Norvasc na mabibili niyan? That’s conspicuous consumption under the Civil Code. Sa Civil Code may tinatawag tayong Conspicuous Consumption Law na pinapakita mo yung yaman mo.. We should not allow conspicuous spending like this. It’s extravagant, it really is designed to promote the candidacy of an individual and we are putting our head in the sand. Excuse me, if nobody will say it, I will say it, anyway sinasabi nila wala akong chance e. That’s fine with me. But I am not going to allow the Filipino people to be bamboozled by money. I remember when I was student council when I was in UP, “Guns, goons and gold” were used by Marcos. Now, I can see it again, it’s even worse. It’s even worse. And the silence is deafening. Hayaan mo na lang, talagang ganyan ang buhay may mayaman may mahirap. Excuse me, all my life, I fought, I have worked and earned my way. And I am not going to be bamboozled, I have never been bamboozled, by money.. To me, it’s simple money politics. Nakakahiya!

KAPIHAN SA SENADO 6/25/09: On Vagni


Q: Update on Vagni

Sen. Gordon: Vagni, we have not heard of since June 7.. That was our last contact with him. The last contact with his wife was June 2. There have been fighting in that area. They kept shooting. They keep saying na nagbayad ng ransom ang Red Cross, hindi pwedeng magbayad ng ransom ang Red Cross. Tumakas si Notter, binigay sa amin si Mary Jean Lacaba. Pinangako naman sa akin ni Al Bader yan e. Binigay sa amin yan. Nakuha pareho ng Red Cross yan. Nung makuha na si Notter dahil nakatakas, palagay ko napahiya ang Abu Sayyaf. Tapos banat pa ng banat na may ransom. Ang balita ko nanghihingi na ng ransom ngayon. Balita ko lang, wala akong confirmation, whatsoever. Pero natutuwa naman ako na sinabi ni Sec. Puno na mag-uusap ulit, which is, I think, the right thing to do. I will treat this as a kidnapping affair, ang kidnappers kinakausap yan. Tumatawag sa telepono yan. Even if we consider these people terrorists, kapag nakipag-usap, kausapin natin kung makukuha natin para hindi tayo mawalan ng tao. Kung makukuha natin ng malinis surgically handled, go ahead. That is the duty of the Armed Forces. Pero kung hindi naman natin makukuha at ibibilad na naman natin ang mga sundalo natin, na yung baril, yung groove e kapos na, na hirap na hirap sa gamit. Kung hindi tayo sigurado ng husto, hindi naman ganoon ka-grabe yung sitwasyon wag na natin kunin dahil baka lalong grumabe pag namatay si Vagni. We will have egg all over our faces again.

Q: Proof of life

Sen. Gordon: Yung nag-usap sila, naka-usap niya yung asawa niya. Nakausap yung asawa niya June 2. June 7, nagtetext yung Abu Sayyaf.

Q: Condition ni Vagni?

Sen. Gordon: Same, bad shape. His hernia is not getting any better, he’s got high blood pressure and it’s the rainy season.

Q: Are you getting pressure from Geneva ?

Sen. Gordon: No, we’re in cooperation with them. One day, I’d like to show you the letters of commendation that the PNRC have gotten from no less than the president of the International Red Cross, which, by the way, was taken in the last meeting I had in Paris where they particularly mentioned this representation and the PNRC for the excellent way we handled the operation which resulted in the saving of lives.. Everywhere I go, in Europe or anywhere else, when I meet an ICRC, they have nothing but high praises for what has been done by the PNRC.

Q: Where did you get the information about the ransom demand? Any amount mentioned?

Sen. Gordon: From my own sources. There was a ridiculous amount mentioned. But since I did not get it from them, I don’t want to mention it.

Q: Noong pumunta kayo sa Geneva , Switzerland , tinalakay po ba itong kaso?

Sen. Gordon: Binanggit sa speech ng ICRC at binanggit ng presidente ng France si Sarkozy at ang sabi mabuti nakuha niyo yung dalawa, sana makuha niyo pa si Vagni.

KAPIHAN SA SENADO 6/25/09: On ConAss and Revolutionary Government


Q: Homobono Adaza claims that PGMA is key to country’s reform through a military-backed revolutionary gov’t. Your comment on that, sir?

Sen. Gordon: That is what I am concerned about. With all these talks that she really wants to extend her term, etc. there is really a very overt act, overt yan eh, yung attempt to change the constitution by the lower house, although hindi pa umaandar yan, that’s a political overt act, as far as I’m concerned. That indicates that they want to change the constitution to extend not only the president, but perhaps, motivated by the fact that other congressmen’s term are going to expire. To me, you could do that, kung talagang may will, is to abolish Congress and declare a revolutionary government. Halimbawa, if the elections fail, if massive violence is perpetrated on the machines, or kunwari ipagkalat nila the machines have broken down, there are no results and then nagkaroon ng mass actions, and then they send out the military, and they say the government will not function anymore because this congress has not been elected, I declare a revolutionary government. Posible yun.

Q: Sabi din none of the presidentiables are qualified to effect change in the country.

Sen. Gordon: Coming from a man who is a very good friend of mine, I will take that tongue and cheek.

Q: Hindi na daw i-insist yung senate-less con-ass.

Sen. Gordon: I heard from Speaker Nograles that the Congress is not like that. They will not have a con-ass during the SONA, which I thought is a very reasonable statement. Naniniwala ako doon.

KAPIHAN SA SENADO 6/25/09: On A(H1N1) and Typhoon Feria

ON A(H1N1)

Q: Due to confirmed cases of A(H1N1) virus at the House of Representatives, Palace says they are open on possible postponement of the SONA ni PGMA.

Sen. Gordon: Makikita nyo ang cacophony of voices coming out. Sabi ni Jeslie Lapus, wag na kayo mag-cancel ng classes. Ako naman sinabi ko noong isang araw, dapat sana dahil alam natin na nagbakasyon, maraming nagbyahe, marami tayong OFW, inatras muna
natin ng two weeks yung klase bago tayo nag-open. Look at what is happening now, parang nagba-brownout eh, by section. We’ve got to have the Dept. of Health saying if is it wise to close classes.

It is not the call of the Dept. of Education. It’s not the call of Malacanang. It is the call of DOH, consulting the World Health Organization, if it is safe to allow our children to go to school. It cannot be cavalierly said by the Department of Education na parang sore eyes lang yan dahil may namamatay dito eh.

Here is an adult, an employee of the House of Representatives, who did not see a doctor, and because of her weak condition, she died.. So we have to make a decision. Should we cancel classes muna for two weeks? If not, then explain it to the public na kakalat yan, magkakasakit yung ibang mga anak natin, ito lang ang ibibigay nyo, here’s one way to avoid it. Otherwise, dadami ng dadami, may mamamatay, nata-throttle ang sistema. It’s bad for our country because we can’t seem to show the world that we are getting our act together. Yung tourism mo magsa-suffer.

The government must get its act together because yung mga nagpa-planong bumisita rito hindi bibisita. Not just the tourists but businessmen. We have to tell our people kung ano talaga ang kailangang gawin.

The Dept. of Health must issue a statement to say pwedeng pumasok, no problem, you’re safe. On the other hand, if we were hit by something more serious than this, like SARS, it would appear that the variants of statements being made will clearly show that the country is not ready to cope with a pandemic. Now it is good that the problem has not presented itself yet. This is practice. I hope Dr. Lapus is correct, even he is pretending to be a doctor.

Kung ang tumama sa atin ay avian flu, a lot of people will die. We have to make known to the public, ano ang plan natin. Ang sinasabi ko subukan na natin ngayon. Kung isu-suspend natin ang klase, dapat ang schools may plan sila na pwedeng ipadala yung mga lesson plan sa bahay, by government television stations, or by delivery, or what have you. Home school or home study. We should have taken our cue from Shanghai and from Hong Kong. Sa Shanghai, ultimo yung mayor ng New Orleans na-quarantine, dahil merong maysakit sa eroplano. That is why I’m saying, nagkukulang ang Dept. of Health. Maganda dapat umiikot sila.. The point is, you have to make strong decisions right away.

I don’t think swine flu at the moment is serious, unless mahina ang constitution nung taong tinamaan at hindi siya nagpatingin sa dalubhasang doktor. There are already flu shots available. Dapat ipasok natin ngayon yung contingency plan. Let’s find out if we can make it happen. Let’s learn from it right now, rather than learn as we die. Low level ang disease na ito, hindi masyadong matindi. Pero para makalma ang tao, hindi magpa-panic, pina-practice na natin kung sakaling mas masidhi ang mangyayari.

Q: Eh kung ma-quarantine yung magso-SONA? Dapat ban a ma-quarantine?

Sen. Gordon: Kung galing siya sa isang lugar na may mga cases, o yung eroplano na sinakyan nya ay merong may H1N1, maka-quarantine siya. She is not above the law. That’s why I cited the case of the New Orleans mayor. That mayor could not get out to China, she was not allowed to get out.


Q: Meron bang mga naipa-abot na tulong ang Red Cross sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Feria?

Sen. Gordon: Yes. Right now our people are on the ground. We tried to help those who were stranded, pero nag-uwian agad. Maraming na-stranded sa mga ports eh. Sa Samar we gave food. Sa Cavite we gave food tsaka inaruga namin yung mga nasaktan doon.

Mass feeding for 168 families in five evacuation centers in Western Samar. In Cavite, mass feeding of 50 families in five evacuation centers. All chapters have been activated, yung 143 volunteers namin nagko-conduct ng assessment at first aid. Meron mga namatay pero not really typhoon-related, nasasama lang sa reports.

KAPIHAN SA SENADO 6/25/09: On Poll Automation

Q: Bukas yung schedule ng pirmahan ng kontrata ng Smartmatic and the Comelec, will this go through?

Sen. Gordon: It’s the Comelec who should be making that decision because the law has been completed and they are now implementing the law, and it’s up to them to make that decision. We cannot substitute our decision for the Comelec. They are the frontline, we have already given the standards, they should be able to make it.

Quite frankly, my only comment on the Comelec is that they ought to be more careful and ought to be more adept at scrutiny. For example, they should know that hubs and spokes are technical terms. When you have a hub, that’s a technical term that means it is in aid of speedy delivery and distribution of machines or voting ballots and paraphernalia.

Q: Sen. Escudero expressed concern that Smartmatic has
not really been officially or properly authenticated by whatever consulate or embassy.

Sen. Gordon: That is something that is easily curable.. They can go to Caracas right away and the consul general can immediately attest or authenticate the documents. Like I said, it’s the failure on the part of Smartmatic’s lawyers to assume that it was Barbados. They could have gotten that in Caracas especially since most of them are Venezuelans. I have no worries about that..

My worry is, the machines should be delivered, the machines should be checked and given the A-okay for efficiency and the reliability and that they have a contingency plan in place in case the machines don’t work, in case the machines are violently taken.

Q: According to Comelec chairman Melo yung mga nagsa- sourgraping na losing bidders ay mini-mislead yung mga senators.

Sen. Gordon: I wouldn’t go as far as that but I’m sure that there are some grumbling losing bidders. That is always the case. This is a big contract, a very prestigious one at that. If you succeed here, you make your bones in the whole world because the Philippines has never been famous for honest and reliable elections. So, if a company comes here, they obviously would like to get the business. Kailangan makuha nila yung negosyo sapagkat malaking bagay ito pag nakita nila na nagtrabaho yung eleksyon dito, maraming boboto, this is one of the bigger electoral exercises in the world, we have 45 million voters, so pag nag-succeed yan they will have good credentials anywhere in the world to bid for computerized machines. So obviously there would be a lot of grumbling.

Q: What if somebody succeeds in getting a TRO and stops the contract-signing?

Sen. Gordon: It is my hope that that is not going to happen. This will have to go by judicial statesmanship, na kailangan mabilis gumalaw ang korte because really we have to finally find our way clear in making sure that our people are assured that we can have elections that are reliable. This concept was first introduced in 1997 and attempts were made to make it happen but it’s only in 2009, 12 years later, that it’s finally going to happen. I think we should really try and make a go of it that’s why yung mga naysayer bantayan na lang natin. Let us make it work. Maganda yung start natin kasi nababantayan naming mga senador without imposing our judgment on them. There’s also the advisory council, the technical committee, and the PPCRV. So lahat yang grupo na yan, pag nag-coalesce we can have an election that is good. I’ve always been the optimist, you know that.

Q: What about the hubs? Like in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi?

Sen. Gordon: They will have to make a presentation on how they will do that. That’s why I said, speaking for the people, kailan darating sa Tawi-Tawi ang makina? Three days before the elections, at the very least. And they will have to make that presentation to us, now. So dapat may timeline yan.

Q: Paano kung walang branch ang 2GO?

Sen. Gordon: It doesn’t have to have a branch there. 2GO is a logistics company, they will try to set it up. I’m sure 2GO will be able to get great experience from this operation because the elections are all over the country so they will now have to build a network. And that’s good for the country. This election connects the country.

Ang technical orientation natin mababaw pa sa tingin ko. Every time there’s a big contract nagkakagulo tayo. But you know pag may magandang kontratang ganito it is bound to happen na may mga glitches yan. That is why yung nanalo dapat binabantayan nila at binabantayan din natin. My own promise to myself, since I authored it, is pipilitin ko mangyari ito.

Q: Chiz Escudero wants the Comelec to delay signing of contract, comment on that?

Sen. Gordon: Chiz Escudero is not the Comelec. I am not the Comelec. We can make comments left or right. Chiz has made statements in the past for which even Sen. Angara berated him at one time. He was in the Lower House when this bill was being passed and he had no confidence in him. Now Chiz is just being true to form. He wants to criticize this bill.. I am glad that he is doing that. But it doesn’t mean that this is going to make this bill snake bitten. It’s not gonna be snake bitten by that. We have to make things work in this country. We make things work.. Ang orientation dito is to talk it to death. Which is right, we should talk it to death. We should analyze it. But in the final analysis, we should make our country work. Whatever law there is that has been made, we should learn to make it work.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Collision between Chinese sub and US sonar shows RP's vulnerability

The "inadvertent encounter" between a Chinese submarine and an underwater sonar apparatus towed by a United States (U.S.) destroyer last week shows how vulnerable the Philippines is to attacks or invasions pointed out Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today.

Gordon, vice chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, said the incident underscored how weak the country's lack of adequate equipment has rendered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"D'yan makikita how naked we are. Kulang tayo ng kagamitan at tao sa Navy, sa Air Force, at sa Armed Forces. Wala tayong sonar, wala tayong radar, wala tayong ni ano kaya dinadaan-daanan tayo. Baka pati sa inland waters dinadaan-daanan tayo niyan," he said.

"We should take this incident as a warning that we should strengthen our Armed Forces. We are open to attacks on our territory, especially since the Philippines is an archipelago with many docking areas. Hindi pwedeng puro coast walang guard, puro air walang force," he added.

Reports said a Chinese submarine had a collision Last June 11 with the sonar array connected to the USS John S. McCain 125 nautical miles (144 miles; 232 kilometers) from Subic Bay in the northwestern Philippines, outside the country's territory.

The collision happened while the McCain, which took part in a military exercise in the Philippines and left May 22, was sailing in the South China Sea.

No injuries were reported and the extent of damage to the sonar array, used to remotely detect the presence of submarines, mines and other underwater objects, was not immediately known.

Both China and the US unofficially viewed the incident as an "inadvertent encounter." A Philippine Defense official admitted that the Philippine Navy had to ask fishermen in the area to confirm the report because it has no sonar and its radar was undergoing maintenance when the incident occurred.

Tourism stakeholders urged to take active role in improving RP tourism

Tourism stakeholders were urged to take an active part in improving the country's tourism industry by getting involved in the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the Tourism Act of 2009 by Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.).

"What needs to be done is to get the tourism business organized. You all know what the industry needs and you must act now and take the bull by the horns," he said during the general meeting of the Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa).

"All of you in the tourism industry must work together and draft an IRR. Go to the provinces and look for potential tourism enterprise zones and create tourism packages. You have to organize the industry. Do not let the others dictate the pace for you; you must dictate the pace yourself," he added.

Gordon said that the tourism law, which he principally authored, states that representatives from different sectors of the tourism industry shall be part of the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) Board.

"A Tourism Related Industry Congress (TRI-CON) will be convened so that tourism stakeholders can choose the people who are going to occupy--not for title, but for development of the industry--positions in the Tourism Promotions Board and the TIEZA," Gordon, a former tourism secretary, said.

The Tourism Promotions Board shall be responsible for marketing and promoting the Philippines domestically and internationally as a major global tourism destination, highlighting the uniqueness and assisting the development of its tourism products, with the end in view of increasing tourist arrivals and tourism investments.

Meanwhile, the TIEZA Board shall supervise and regulate the cultural, economic and environmentally sustainable development of tourism enterprise zones, which are areas that will be developed to lure domestic and foreign investors and tourists.

"The government and the tourism stakeholders must work hand in hand to make the tourism law effective. With the faithful implementation of this law, the nation can have a better institution to regulate and promote tourism and install the necessary infrastructures to make our country truly world-class," Gordon said.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fathers Day Special: Who's afraid of Dick Gordon?

60 MINUTES: How much information can you get out of a 60-minute interview? The Students and Campuses Bulletin puts this idea to the test as it interviews notable Filipinos about their lives, their philosophies, and their achievements, all within the self-imposed time limit. 60 Minutes aims to teach, inform and inspire today’s Filipino youth.

Interview by: Rachel C. Barawid, Ina R. Hernando, Jaser A. Marasigna, Ivy Lisa F. Mendoza. Photos by: Pol Briana, Jr.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Students & Campuses Section
Manila Bulletin

He may be tough and gung-ho leader that people know him to be, but strip him of every position, accolade or achievement that he has ever attained, Senator Richard Gordon is first and foremost a dedicated dad, a loving father, and a proud son.

Gordon has come face-to-face with the biggest tragedies and calamities, or even tough political issues, but he is not ashamed to admit that he still breaks down and cries at the memory of his father James Leonard Gordon who was assassinated during his term as first mayor of Olongapo in Zambales.

“It was very hard coping with that tragedy. It’s still here. I still cry. I only cry for two things, my father and my country. You never forget your parents. When you talk about your father the way he died, talagang tatamaan ka dun. So you teach your children and grandchildren that.

You make your own history. You don’t want your family’s history to end with you. You want it to begin with you, to higher heights,” reveals the 63 year old solon.

Despite those melancholy moments, Gordon makes sure he passes on the lessons he learned – starting from his great grandfather Col. Jose Tagle, a revolutionary hero whose bravery freed Cavitenos against the Spaniards in the Battle of Imus; and of course, his father who gave up privileges of being an American to serve his people as a Filipino.

“I’m firm but fair, the same way I am with government, the same way I am with myself. I teach them to live within their means, to respect everybody. Never fear the future. Do not put people in a category. Do not accept fate. Do not accept chance na talagang ganyan ang buhay or wala tayong magagawa. Analyze the situation. You have to lead by example,” he shares.

It may seem out of character for Gordon, a father to four children and lolo to 11 grandchildren, but he is actually the doting and affectionate type who regularly keep track of his kids’ whereabouts and even say “ I love you” on the phone. He explains that this gives his children the assurance that “they’re special people but they are not to be specially treated.”

Gordon has always been active in his endeavors even as a student. But like any ordinary high-schooler, he had his share of mischiefs, neglecting school for parties and movies. For this, he flunked in his sophomore year at the Ateneo, a failure he regrets to this day.

From then on, he strived to become a good leader in school, excelling both in academics and joining in every extra-curricular activity imaginable.

“I was active all the time. I was class president. I taught catechism. I was a sacristan. I was in debating, I was the head cheerleader, part of the track team, active in cub scouts and drum and bugle corps, and an officer at the ROTC. I was everywhere,” he proudly recalls.

This same energy and drive to excel later on brought him to government as the youngest delegate(at age 24) to the 1971 Constitutional Convention even when he was yet to finish his studies as a sophomore law student at the University of the Philippines.

In high school, Sen. Gordon also learned the value of hardwork and perseverance during his summer jobs as waiter, cashier, shoeshine boy and entrepreneur selling teddy bears, love bags, and Zippo lighters.

Armed with perseverance and leadership, Gordon transformed Olongapo from a sin city to a model city when he was mayor for 14 years(1980-1993). He introduced various innovations in local governance. After the dismantlement of the US Military Bases in 1991, he led an army of 8,000 volunteers in making Subic into a premiere investment hub. The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority attracted over 300 investors and provided some 90,000 jobs for Filipinos.

As Secretary of Tourism in 2001, Gordon worked wonders for the then tarnished reputation of the Philippine tourism industry, plagued by kidnappings, damaging travel advisories, the SARS disease and the continued threat of terrorism. He used the same volunteer spirit to inspire a culture of tourism among Filipinos and paved the way for a cultural renaissance in the Walled City of Intramuros. With his “WOW Philippines! More than the Usual!” campaign, tourist arrivals increased; the country was placed back on the world tourism map with him serving as World Tourism Organization(WTO) commissioner for East Asia & the Pacific in 2002 and chair of the Pacific Asia Travel Association(PATA) in 2003; and Intramuros became a glittering tourist destination offering the best of the regions’ culture, cuisines and products.

In this 60 Minutes interview, Gordon reveals more of his adventures in the Senate, his passion for helping people through the Red Cross, his fatherhood style, and grand plans if ever he becomes father of the country.

RICHARD GORDON(RG): Is this for Father’s Day? Father na father na ako eh (laughs proudly). I have 11 grandchildren, eight boys and three girls. The eldest is Leo, eight years old.

Ah no, I’m firm but fair. That’s the way I am with government, the same way I am with myself. We enjoy one another. I teach them values. I’m a very happy grandfather, and father too.

SCB: Do you spend a lot of time together?
Weekends. Or sometimes they spend the night with us. Except with our youngest who is always in Olongapo. We just stay home where I’m at peace. We eat out once in a while or sometimes I take them to the basketball game, nung mga bata pa sila, Ateneo-La Salle. Or when we have time in Subic, we go fishing, boating or swimming.

SCB: How do you teach values in this day and age?
I taught my children to live within their means. They’re taught to respect everybody. So they don’t just say ‘yes,’ they say ‘yes lolo, yes ma’am, yes sir.’ Ganun din kasi ako pinalaki. They just don’t go and get anything without permission. They grew up watching TV for a few hours only. And it shows in the results of their schooling.

SCB: And your kids are passing these on to their children?
Yes, yes, just like my kids. Pag aalis sila, they have a self –imposed curfew. They always call every night. Up to now. When they were kids, I would call them every night kasi nasa Olongapo ako, nadito sila sa Manila. So when they go to a party, they have to call first before they go home para I can expect them. When they arrive home they’ll call. They have this sense that they’re special people but they are not to be specially treated.

SCB: Don’t you run out of things to say to each other because you call each other everyday?
No. We just say “I love you” to each other. The call always ends with “I love you.”

SCB: Kids today are no longer that affectionate…
Ngayon? Well my grandchildren are affectionate.

SCB: Aren’t grandparents supposed to be the spoilers?
I don’t live by a category. I never categorize people nor myself. I’m a grandparent, I’m still a father. I don’t father my grandchildren. But when I see something that I don’t agree with, I tell my son, I tell my daughter. I’ll tell them this is the way I think. It’s up to them. One of the best compliments I’ve ever had was when I was out one night and my grandchildren were asked, “Where’s your lolo?” “He’s out helping people at night in the storm.” So they know. You have to lead by example.

SCB: You have set very high standards for yourself and your family. Aren’t you being too harsh on yourself?
You have to be. Otherwise you become a hollow man. What do you live for? To be comfortable? You don’t live forever. You live to respect yourself. When you no longer care, you no longer have a soul. Am I too harsh? Of course not. I exact leadership. I exact character. Some of us don’t demand from ourselves, we don’t demand of our fellowmen. You have to earn respect.

SCB: Did you learn this from your dad?
Yes, of course. My father was unafraid. And he probably learned it from my grandfather. They were both high school graduates, they were successful. They did not have to steal. They work hard. I teach the work ethic. Di ka pwedeng tamad pagka-Gordon ka. Dapat masipag ka. Tatay ko, nanay ko masipag.

SCB: What do you remember most about your father?
He was a great man. In spite of the fact that he lacked formal education, he was a high school graduate, my mother was the same thing, I tell my kids that, can you imagine how great he would have been if he studied more.
But he was never afraid to face the challenge of the future. He chose to be Filipino.
That takes a lot. Komportable ka, Amerikano ka, may insurance ka, you belong to the most powerful nation in the world. He chose to be Filipino. All his brothers went to the States. Siya Amerikano pinanganak, mestiso siya, katulad ng kapatid niya. Pinili niya Pilipino and he died a Filipino.
He raised me as Filipino. Why did he do that? Because he had a father who was an American, who loved the Philippines and never went back to America. And his other grandfather, was the first Filipino who won the battle against Spain and saved the revolution. Jose Tagle with Aguinaldo won the battle of Imus. That is his sword there. Jose Tagle won the first battle of the revolution. But nauna sa kanila yung Muslim. Tinalo ni Lapu Lapu.

SCB: What’s the most important lesson you learned from your father?
Never fear the future. Never make fear get in the way of your future.

SCB: In what context was that taught to you?
Well yung buhay niya.Meron siyang paniwala na aayusin niya yung bayan niya. Binabaril, pinapaputukan siya ng Granada, hindi siya tumigil. So when you think of the Gordon na inalis ni Cory, naninindigan, o inalis ni Erap, naninindigan, or lumalaban kay Marcos o tumitindig sa Senado, at hindi pinapalambas yung mga nagungulimbat dito.

SCB: Is this the same lesson you want your kids to learn from you?
Yeah. Sa kanila, siguro hindi naman ako namatay. Ang tatay ko namatay, pwersado ako na magtrabaho sa bayan. Sila nakikita nila, may diin sa kanila yun. I’m never always around, so yung eldest son ko, he doesn’t want to go to politics. He wants to take care of his family. Wala silang yaya and they bring their kids to school. Tatlong anak niya lalaki, isa lang yaya nila recently lang.

SCB: Was there a time when you were discriminated when you were a boy because you were carrying an American name?
Hindi naman na –discriminate. I would not let anybody discriminate me. Sasabihin nila GI baby ka, suntukan na. (laughs) Pag Kastila yung nagsasabi lumalaban ako talaga. Pag tinanggal yung sumbrero ko, kasi crew cut ako noon, hindi ako pwedeng magpahaba ng buhok, kukunin nila yung sumbrero ko. But look at that, I was in Letran. Look at my desk, all the schools that I attended are there.

SCB: What schools are those?
UP, Ateneo, Letran. Wala lang dyan yung Lourdes, wala pang bandera ang Lourdes.

SCB: But where lies your loyalty?
All of the above. (laughs)

SCB: Safe answer…
No, because they all formed me. Pagpasok ko sa Letran anong sinasabi nila? Aguinaldo was from Letran. Quezon was from Letran. Baka maging presidente ako.

SCB: How were you as a student?
Active all the time, never a doormat. I was class president. I was active in the cub scouts. I was active as drum and bugle corps, grade 1 to 3 yan. I taught catechism. I was a sacristan, Sanctuary Society. I was in debating, I was in ROTC, I was an officer. I was everywhere, that’s why I was a hall of famer. I was in the track team. I was head cheerleader.

SCB: Where do you get the drive to excel, then and now?
From my mother who had a lot of energy. She never pushed me, she just showed me by her example. My mother hardly slept. I knew she was trying to get us through school, and my father. So we had our duty when we came home, we had four restaurants, we had theaters, we had a hotel, we had a piggery, we had jeepneys. Very entrepreneurial ang mga magulang ko. I was never in want. I was never in want for anything. But I was always told, you have to keep moving. You have to work. And I’ll go home, maglalagay ako ng comics na binili ko ng grade school ako, or nung high school ako, ilalagay ko sa sampayan. Tatawagan ko yung mga kapitbahay, magsa-shine kami ng sapatos ng Amerikano. Pagpasok sa restaurant namin kami nagsa-shine, eh di kumikita kami. Tapos nag-aarkila sila ng comics, nagbabasa sila. So entrepreneurial ako.
Later on I would sell teddy bears, love bags. I was also barking orders, ‘porter house medium well.’ Tutulungan ko yung mga waiter. Magbabasa ako ng libro, I tell the waiters, alam niyo ang mga waiters, you are the most trusted because noong araw, kaya nagkaroon ng mga waiter ‘yung mga hari, kailangan may magsisilbi ng pagkain, kailangan pagtiwalaan ng hari ‘yun at kailangan magalingdahil mapapahiya yung hari pag balasubas kayong magsilbi. Tinuturo ko sa mga waiter naming yan, kailangan malinis kayo.

SCB: So you held summer jobs?
I worked for my parents. Nagkakaha ako.

SCB: With pay?
No. nagungupit ako. (laughs) No, pinapaalam ko naman sa tatay ko yan. Kukuha ako ng ganito ha, pag sumobra, tatawagan ako, ang laki naman ng kinuha mo. (laughs) But I was never in want. May pera ako eh. Kumikita ako. Nagpapalit ako ng dollar sa mga waiters. I collected Zippo lighters. Tapos ibebenta ko sa mga classmates ko. Mga USS America, USS Constellation.

SCB: Was there a time na you felt that you failed in something?
Oh yeah.

SCB: How did you deal with it?
The biggest failure in my life was when I repeated second year high school. I love the movies, I love going to parties at that time, and then ang sama ng timing nagbago pa mga teachers. Yung mga Filipino Jesuits pumasok bigla. Pinalitan yung mga Amerikano. They were very demanding.

SCB: Where were you then?
In Ateneo. So when I flunked, that was a big failure. And when you come back to it, it wasn’t really a failure because if you learn from your failures, that’s the time I decided I would be very active in meaningful things. Not just parties. That’s the time that I decided that I will be a very meaningful leader in school.

SCB: What did you parents say when you flunked?
My mother was livid and my father was quiet. Sabi niya I’ll take you to school and I’ll tell you what you’ll do. So nung dinala niya ako sa eskwela, sabi niya, you made a mistake, pick it up. Mag-aral ka, and if you reall try as diligent as you can and can’t get honors, get honors in another way, by being a leader: Ayun, lalo ako naging active sa leadership.

SCB: What was your first ambition?
To be a pilot. (laughs) ‘Yung pari tinatanong ako, sabi ni Father, well your exams show you’re not diligent in Math. I went to take up History and Government. History is my first love. When I graduated, I applied sa Procter and Gamble, Unilever, lahat ‘yan tinanggap ako. Pero nung kumukuha ako ng exams sabi ng mga classmates ko, uy Dick may Math dito, History ka eh, business ito. Tawa-tawa lang ako, mga cum laude sila. I got the job and I got offers from all the companies.

SCB: Which company did you chose?
Procter and Gamble. I handled Tide and Safeguard. I stayed for a year, umalis ako dahil pinatay tatay ko. Sabi ko no, iba na ito. Pinatay na ang father ko.

SCB: How did you cope with the tragedy?
Very hard. It’s still here. I still cry. I only cry for two things, my father and my country. You never forget your parents. When you talk about your father, the way he died, talagang tatamaan ka dun. So you teach your children that. You teach your grandchildren that. You have a great history but your history is not borowing from them. You learn from them, you make your own history. You don’t want your family’s history to end with you. You want it to begin with you, to higher heights.

SCB: In the face of tragedy, nandun ka sa gitna, how do you feel about sa ganun?
I’m the bravest when I’m in the middle of a tragedy. Hindi ako umiiyak in the middle of a tragedy. I have to be brave. I have to be strong.

SCB: It seems you have never lost in faith in the Filipino, despite their attitude today…
I have never lost faith in the Filipino because all countries go through a period of strife, of difficulty, of questioning. Can you imagine if you were black in America? Today you have a black American president. If they had lost faith, eh di wala na ‘yan. You never lose faith. Imagine if you were black during the time of Lincoln. How can you lose faith?

SCB: Are you going to run for president?
You know the reason why I am not announcing is because if I announced, lahat ng gagawin ko sasabihin politika. I could be charged with premature campaigning.

SCB: But a lot of them are doing that…
Just because everybody’s killing people, I should start killing people?

SCB: So why aren’t they charged?
Because it’s a very apathetic society. Complacent. Tamad tayo mag-analyze. That’s one of the things I teach my children and my grandchildren. Analyze ninyo lahat. Do not put people in a category. Do not accept fate. Do not accept chance na talagang ganyan and buhay o wala tayong magagawa.
If you analyze the situation tama ba na surveys ang magdidikta kung sino ang iboboto natin? Na susuko na sasabihing huwag na tumakbo ‘tong si (Bayani) Fernando, sila Gordon, (Gilbert) Teodoro dahil hindi sila nagre-rate. Bakit nasuri naba kung ano ang record namin, ang integridad, ang vision?
Ang ibig sabihin porke lamag na sa isang survey dahil nag-aadvertise siya, eh ibig sabihin huwag ka na lumaban? Eh di survey nalang ang gamitin natin sa pagboto. Huwag na tayong gumastos pa ng automated elections, survey na lang naman pala eh.

SCB: But it’s a “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Even your work at Red Cross is being said as politicking…
Ah so 40 years na pala ako namumulitika, kasi 40 years na ko sa Red Cross eh. Sixty years na nanay ko sa Red Cross.

SCB: Para kasing whether you do it or not, people will take it that way…
Ah hindi. Malinaw ako eh. Mapapaliwanag ko yan. Nanalo naman ako as the youngest Con Con delegate, I was only 24 then. Ibig ba sabihin Red Cross ang nagpanalo sa akin? As mayor, Red Cross and nagpanalo sa akin? Hindi ko naman pinagkakalandakan na Red Cross ako eh.
Ang masama dito yung gumagawa ng masama hindi niyo sinisingil, kundi yung gumagawa ng mabuti, yung may track record. Sinisingil ng tao, sinisingil ng media. Pero nakikita ninyo sa ating lipunan may mga tao na manunugal, pumapatay ng tao, pero pag bumanat takot lahat eh.

SCB: So what are you afraid of?
Me? I would be lying to you if I say I’m afraid of nothing. I’m afraid of an immediate threat. But I’m not afraid of a long term threat. I can fix it. Yung bigla na lang lalabas, siyempre…you’re in a plane, baka mag-crash, siyempre matatakot ka.
Am I afraid to run for President? No, I’m not afraid. Am I afraid because I have no money?

SCB: Are you afraid to lose?
No. I think I will win. When I decide to run, I will win. Because masigasig akong mangampanya. Number 29 ako ng tumakbo ako sa Senado. I had no Iglesia ni Cristo, I won number 5. I had no money. Nanghihinayang ba ako? No, I just feel let down by society na nakukuha sila sa pasayaw-sayaw, sa mga slogan na walang ibig sabihin, na hindi sila tumitingin sa kakayahan ng tao. Diba pag mag-aaply ka sa trabaho, ano bang nagawa mo? What is your experience? Where did you go to school? Anong values mo? Saan ka pupunta dito sa kumpanya? What will you contribute to the company? We don’t even ask our people that. Diba malinaw nung nakita niyo ako sa ABS-CBN sa ANC, sinong hero mo? Tatay ko. Hindi naman ako nagpa-pause sa answer ko.

SCB: You have a solid group of volunteers, how are you going to bring this to the natinal level… kasi parang most of the people are apathetic?
Didn’t I win as Senator with those volunteers? The only thing that they have in the Senate that they can claim is marami silang poster, or TV ads. Starting off in the presidency, all this things being equal, mas marami kang pera lamang ka dahil marami kang advertising.
Pero marami rin akong track record at naniniwala ako sa tao. Minsan sinasabi ko, ano bang nangyayari sa bayan natin? Bakit pinapayagan ‘to? And that’s the reason why you’re running. That’s the reason why you will run because you have a people na gusto mong baguhin ang attitude.

SCB: Did you shine in the ANC Forum because of your track record or because you speak so well?
All of the above. You have to communicate. Communication is not verbal exercise. May laman dapat ang sinasabi mo. Wala kang laman kung wala kang nagawa. Hindi sapat yung pinag-aralan mo pag hindi alam gamitin yung pinag-aralan mo. Did you think I shone?

SCB: Yeah… Specially because when you were asked who your hero was, you did not hesitate with your answer while another presidentiable froze and was not able to answer.
I always say that. Pag tinatanong ako kung sinong mga role models ko, sasabihin ko tatay ko, nanay ko. For motivational capabilities si (John) Kennedy at saka si (Ronald) Reagan. For political will, si (Harry) Truman.

SCB: With your track record, you have all the reason to win. But what would make you lose if you run as president?
Kapag ang tao hindi nag-aaral, talo tayo. But then naniniwala ako na nag-aaral sila sa presidency eh. What would make me lose is hindi ko ma-communicate yung message ko na yun.

SCB: So who should be afraid of Dick Gordon?
Yung mga corrupt. Yung mga nang –aabuso. Because if I’m president, you will see action agad. I don’t wait. Kapag may nag-complain sa akin, I call people right away.

SCB: Malilinis ninyo ba yun?
Kaya ko.

SCB: Where do you start?
With myself. Kapag nakita ninyo ako na nagnakaw, magnakaw na kayo.

SCB: Pero alam na ng tao na hindi niyo gagawin yun…
That’s precisely it. Kung sino yung konduktor, kung lazy ang kudukotor, lazy ang tao. Ang tao kasi ide-define mo eh. Ako, I’m going to be honest, you can expect that I will be honest and you know that I will be honest. But I want you to be honest and I want you to be a watcher. People can call me on this phone and I don’t know them. They ask for blood, they ask for help in hospitals, they ask “Yung anak ko na OFW kunin ninyo.” And you don’t see that on TV but I do that everyday.
Heto tignan ninyo yung phone ko (hands the phone over to SCB staff). I’m the Red Cross chairman and they report to me. That’s the kind of presidency that I will have. They are required to tell their chairman kung ano ang nangyayari. It could be a landslide in Compastela Valley and if they don’t report kung ano ang nangyayari in their area and I find out, lagot sila.

SCB: Tech-savvy po ba kayo?
No, I hate it.

SCB: So how do you relax?
I relax while am working. Ngayon relaxed ako. (laughs)

SCB: Which books do you read?
I am now reading “House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power,” by James Caroll, it’s 600 plus pages, ganyan kakapal.

SCB: Do you have time to watch movies?
Not lately. Sa bahay na lang kami nagdi-DVD ni Kate.

SCB: Hindi naman pirated?
Hindi, I’m a lawyer of the industry. (laughs)

SCB: Ano yung guilty pleasures ninyo?
That’s for me to know and for you to discover. (laughs)

SCB: Among the many hats that you wore, what’s the most fulfilling?
Red Cross. Wala naman akong sweldo dyan eh but I enjoy doing it. Like my mother who is still with the Red Cross. Yung mga taong nagmamahal sa akin kasi they know that no one is high or low, we help period. Nobody will be left behind.

SCB: Briefly what kind of president will you be?
: Hardworking, focused, fast, friendly, flexible, forward-looking president.

SCB: Puro “F” yun ah.
That’s a slogan, that’s me. I’ll be a teaching-president. I will enable and enoble you, this country. Ako sometimes, I ask myself how I am different. Sila nagngangapa pa sila kung ano ang sasabihin, ako you ask me, I’ll answer right away. No pausing, no “ah…” walang plastic. Ako, I tend to cry. Naiiyak ako minsan eh. I watch a movie, I cry. Is that a sign of weakness? No, it’s a sign that you are human.

SCB: Do you have regrets?
Kapag tapos na, I don’t. I don’t dwell on it. I don’t dwell on what could have beens. Of course I have regrets but I don’t dwell on it. Do I regret being a Filipino? Do I regret my father choosing to be a Filipino? Can I do that? There’s no time for that. I meet with my staff and I tell them, “Quit na tayo. Gusto ko mag-quit eh.” I’m just saying that because sometimes I’m perplexed. This country wants change and yet kapag nag-survey ang mga iboboto nila yung mga bobo! And am not saying that because I’m not rating but because I don’t know if these are real surveys. How can you trust that?
Ano regret ko? Na wala akong pera? Can I blame my parents? We’ve had enough. Should I tell myself, “Sorry, hindi ka kasi nagpa-smuggling eh.” And I tell you this, I don’t think I should spend my own money to campaign. Magnanakaw lang ako eh.

SCB: So what are your dreams for the country?
I have many dreams for this country.
First of all, I want every Filipino to be assured that when they work someday, they have enough to send their kids to school, they have enough for their insurance, they have enough to retire on. That’s a dream, a real dream, an aspiration and it will take time.

I want this country to be proud of itself. I want this country to stand tall, be respected because we have earned it. That’s my dream, enable, enoble, yung hindi tayo pala-hingi, hindi pala-asa. For the country, you have to be a stakeholder. How can I best make the Pasig clean? If I show them that there is a nice walkway and there are businesses out there that they can earn income from. And they will say “Dapat pangalagaan natin huwag nating bastusin.” And that’s how to build a country.

There will always be pain in this life and you have to alleviate human suffering, that’s a Red Cross motto. Uplift human dignity... You cannot give that unless they know I have dignity and I have earned that.

Look at this place(referring to his office), everywhere you look, Knights of the Round Table - there’s a higher goal, a lofty goal, use might for right, hindi might is right, but might for right. Don Quixote De La Mancha – a book and a sword, a dreamer because he thinks of the way how it should be. That’s me, that’s what I want your children to be. Because without that aspiration, you are not a human being. You are created by the Lord to be better than what you think you are.

Aim high, you have the power. Bawal ang Tamad. Lalong bawal ang Tanga. You should have a sense of duty, don’t be waited on. Duty first. You have to have dignity, you have to have determination. Those are my slogans. Self-help, self-reliance.

So do you expect me to give them money? No, because if I give you money, I have power over you. But if you earn it, you have dignity.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Father, my hero.

Father of Olongapo

James Leonard Tagle Gordon was Mayor of Olongapo City from December 30, 1963 to February 20, 1967. He was born on January 17, 1917 of an American father, John Jacob Gordon, and a Filipina mother, Veronica Tagle Gordon.

He could have chosen to take American Citizenship and live in the United States like his four brothers where he could enjoy the comforts in a well developed country. Instead, he chose to stay in the Philippines as a Filipino Citizen. He raised his children as Filipino Citizens and brought them up according to Filipino values.

This is not surprising considering that he inherited the genes of a revolutionary hero, Jose Tagle. One of the three children of Tagle was Veronica who married John Jacob Gordon. Jose Tagle was known for his exploits in leading a raiding team against friars and Civil Guards in Imus, then against a strong Spanish force in Bacoor, Cavite. He was victorious in both instance and won the high regard if Aguilnaldo. In recognition of his leadership Aguinaldo appointed Tagle Municipal Mayor of Imus.

Inherited Traits.

This distinguished ancestry gave James Gordon the strong character that he, in turn, left to his progeny and to the people of Olongapo as lasting legacy. His private life and public career all bore the earmarks of decisiveness, of willingness to fight corruption against seemingly insurmountable odds.

James Gordon was a self- made man. He did not depend on anybody but largely went through life on his own efforts, a trait that is part of his American heritage. Being the only child left behind with his aging father, who was interned during the war, he took care of the old gentleman until his death in 1954. In doing this, he followed closely the Filipino tradition of close family ties and of caring for the elderly members. As a true Filipino he kept in close touch with his children even when they were away in school in Manila. He always wanted his children to excel in whatever they tried, be it a very lowly task.

Civic Consciousness.

His family orientedness showed in his successful attempts to put up an institution that would take care of orphans and abandoned children. Together with his friends, he put up Boys Town- Girls Home which still exists to this day, caring for around 70 wards.. Jimmy Gordon’s widow Amelia J. Gordon continues this tradition of caring by keeping under her care children from very poor families.

In the field of civic work James Gordon led in the forming of groups that worked on community projects. He was one of the organizers of the Olongapo Civic Action Group that worked on beautification projects and in general improvement of the city. He was one of the founders of the Olongapo Rotary Club, which has given rise to four other Rotary Clubs at present. He was also one of the founders of the Olongapo Knights of Columbus- and was selected the second Grand Knight. He organized the Olongapo Businessmen’s Association which then, as now, played a significant part in community life.

Military Rule.

During Gordon’s time Olongapo was in a strange situation. The rest of the Philippines had been declared independent of the United States on July 4, 1946. Olongapo, however, remained under U.S. Government jurisdiction. It had been declared a U.S. Naval Reservation soon after the U.S. and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris. As such it was administered by a U.S. Navy officer. In other words, instead of having a Filipino Mayor, Olongapo had as its governing authority an American military official. Residents had to follow strict rules like: always having an ID Card issued by the Reservation office; home lots could not be owned, these could be taken back any time the US Navy needed the area; relatives from out of town can stay only for a few days and had to renew their passes if their stay is extended; only families with working members could stay in the Reservation. These strictly followed rules made the residents angry. But they became angrier when bus passengers going in and out of the Naval Reservation were made to get off the bus for strict searches of their belongings.

Turnover of Olongapo to Philippine Government.

Jimmy Gordon led the move to make Olongapo free from U.S. rule. He was well respected by US Navy officials and had many friends among the Americans but he could not stomach the military regulations that limited the movements of people in Olongapo. Jose Balein of the Manila Chronicle interviewed him and in a series of articles from July 3 to 7,. 1955 he exposed the abuses and harassments suffered by Olongapo residents under US military rule

The Zambales officials supported Gordon in this fight to be free of military restrictions. As Vice Governor of Zambales he was in a position to speak for people living in Zambales town north of Olongapo who worked in US Navy installations. Buses carrying passengers from Zambales towns passed through Olongapo and underwent the annoying searches. The concerted resistance to military rule could not be ignored by the U.S. Navy authorities. Talks were initiated to formalize the turnover of Olongapo to the Philippine Government. The American panel was made up of officials from the US Embassy headed by Minister Abbot and officers from the U.S. Navy. The Philippine panel was headed by Pacifico Castro of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Vice Governor Gordon was a member. The US Government was thus compelled to relinquish Olongapo to the Philippine Government after the RP-US panel met several times to discuss the conditions. Olongapo was turned over to the Philippine Government on December 7, 1959. On the same day President Carlos P. Garcia signed the Executive Order making Olongapo a municipality of Zambales.

Post Turnover Trouble.

After the turnover, the Zambales politicians moved in. they succeeded in placing their own men in sensitive positions in the new municipality because they worked to have officials appointed instead of elected. Gordon had no stomach for the corruption and he resigned from the post of Deputy Governor. He saw how Olongapo was marginalized. The government hospital was reduced in category; its equipment was carted off to Zambales. Illegal logging and cigarette smuggling were rampant. Land problems proliferated. The new officials tried to lease out the electrical utility for only P5,000.00 a month. Heavy equipment like bulldozers which had been acquired from the US Navy could not be accounted for.

Political Turncoatism.

The political disease of turncoatism was very evident. Party hopping politicians were motivated by the advantage that they could get from the party, not by the principles that the party stood for. The first few years of the new municipality saw this in evidence with the change of party of the Zambales Governor and the Congressman. Politics at its devious worst was the order of the day.

Prodded to run for Municipal Mayor during its first election four years after the turnover, James Gordon, though a reluctant candidate, won and was finally at the helm of his town on December 30, 1963.

Relentless fight against corruption.

If Gordon fought American rule for the military excesses, now he fought well entrenched politicians for widespread corruption. He contracted the services of a lawyer using his own money and won the case (albeit posthumously) that he filed to return the electrical system to the Olongapo Government. He exposed the anomalies that bedeviled the new municipal government. Understandably, his crusade earned for him enemies who tried all manner of harassment, including threats of suspension, hand grenade attacks and planned ambushes.

A City is born.

The situation deteriorated to the extent that Gordon, together with Olongapo residents, struggled hard to be free of the provincial government. He lobbied in Congress for the passage of a bill to convert the municipality into a City. Amidst strong opposition from the provincial government but to the triumphant rejoicing of the people of Olongapo, RA 4645, the Charter of the City of Olongapo, was signed by President Ferdinand Marcos on June 1, 1966. In simple but impressive ceremonies Olongapo City was inaugurated on September 1 of the same year.

New city status failed to damper the avidity of Gordon’s enemies who continued to plan his extermination.

A Light is Extinguished.

There were three attempts on his life: On July 4, 1965, he was lured out of his house by a false report on a fire. On the way back home a grenade was thrown at his car. He survived this first attempt. On August 4 of the same year several prisoners were allowed to escape from the municipal jail of Subic, Zambales. Again, a fire was made as a ruse to make Gordon appear. Three grenades were thrown at the crowd, wounding one US Navy officer who was with the team that helped to control the blaze. Again, James Gordon survived the attempt. The third try was again linked to a fire. The Gordon residence in Quezon City mysteriously burned down on All Saints’ Day. The family later learned that an ambush had been prepared at the Zig-Zag pass although he went through this third attempt unscathed.

On February 20, 1967, while talking with a constituent on the first floor of City Hall, he was gunned down by Nonito Alincastre, an scaped inmate of the National Penitentiary. He was immediately brought to the USS Repose, a US Navy hospital ship, but he could not be saved because of his massive head injuries.

His funeral was the longest Olongapo ever saw. Senators, Congressmen, Ambassadors, joined the grieving Olongapo public in the funeral cortege. His death brought inconsolable loss to his grieving family. Son Richard rued the fact that his father died before he could prove himself equal to the challenge of service that was constantly dinned in his consciousness both by his father’s word as well as by example. Thence began his promise to himself that he would make something of himself to make his father proud of him.

It was a loss felt nationwide. Senator Jose W. Diokno’s tribute to him resonates in every Olongapeno’s heart: “He was born to an American father, chose to be a Filipino, raised his children as Filipinos, served his country as a Filipino and died a Filipino hero.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Look at track record and character, not Perakter, in 2010 elections

The value of political TV commercials of so-called Presidential candidates in helping Filipinos decide on who to vote for as President in 2010 were debunked in an interview Wednesday morning on Magic 89.9 by Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.).

Gordon said that the political radio and television ads may be doing a disservice by projecting a false and deceptive image of those who have declared their intention to run as President in 2010.

In the free ranging interview, Magic 89.9 DJ's Mo Twister, Mojo, and Grace Lee asked Gordon about what he thought would be a better way for people to decide on whom to vote for in the 2010 elections.

"One of the real and true measures of a leader is his or her track record. How long have they been serving the interests of the poor? It would be deceptive if they just suddenly started helping the poor a year or two before the 2010 elections," said Gordon.

The senator warned that the danger of this is that people will be swayed into voting for the person with the most money to spend on advertisements and eventually end up with a leader who cannot deliver on their promises.

Gordon, at the same time, batted for more Presidential debates where candidates aspiring for the position can undergo scrutiny and their positions on various issues can be tested.

"Debates are one of the best ways to find out a person's character, intelligence, and grasp of issues. TV commercials just show you what the candidates want you to see, in debates they reveal their real character and in seeing their character, people will find it easier to decide if they will vote for them or not," said Gordon.

Gordon also said that the present situation arose because the Comelec has looked over the provision of the laws against premature campaigning and pointed out that this has created a playing field that favors moneyed politicians.

"This goes against the very essence of the Fair Elections Act which at the heart of it, should level the playing field for all candidates by putting limits and restrictions on campaigning. What should concern our voters is that after these candidates have spent hundreds of millions on TV advertisements, how will they get it back? Remember, some of the biggest political advertisers are businessmen and they will want a return on their investments," said Gordon.

Interview Magic 89.9 w/ Mo Twister and Grace Lee

DJ Mo Twister and Grace Lee play around with Dick Gordon at radio morning talk show Most Wanted 6/17/09

Part 1
http://www.magic899 .fm/Webparts/ mostwanted/ sengordon1. mp3

Part 2
http://www.magic899 .fm/Webparts/ mostwanted/ sengordon2. mp3

Part 3
http://www.magic899 .fm/Webparts/ mostwanted/ sengordon3. mp3

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lessons of Pinatubo eruption not yet fully learned

As the country marks the 18th year of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the Philippines has not fully learned the lessons of Mt. Pinatubo and continues to be vulnerable to natural disasters, Senator Richard Gordon (Ind.) warned.

"Disasters with the magnitude of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption happens only once in a lifetime but every year we experience at least 20 typhoons and other natural disasters. Despite this, our state of disaster preparedness throughout the country is negligible -- if at all present," said Gordon.

Gordon was mayor of Olongapo City when Pinatubo erupted. Instead of giving up in defeat and asking for help, Gordon rallied his people to dig themselves out of the disaster and even went out to help other towns that were similarly smothered by lahar.

The senator, who is now also the Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, stressed that a higher priority must be given to ensuring disaster preparedness in order to lift our people out of poverty. The PNRC, under his leadership, has risen to the forefront of disaster relief and management being fully equipped with disaster rescue trucks, ambulances, water trucks, high capacity hospital tents, and other equipment.

"Even if you have the best education and a better peace and order situation, all will come to naught if your town or city faces destruction from natural disasters every year. Spending billions on calamity relief will be just like throwing money inside a bottomless pit, what we just do is to minimize the effects of typhoons and other natural disasters," said Gordon.

Gordon said that there is a need to revitalize the system for disaster preparedness and mitigation to enhance the country's survival capability against all types of disasters, whether natural or man-made.

The report further said that the impact of natural events, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, would, in coming years, be amplified by rising populations and climate change.

Gordon filed Senate Bill 145 or An Act to Establish Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation Measures which seeks to provide the measures for the government to carry out its responsibilities to alleviate the sufferings of its people, which result from such disasters.

"The bill intends to allow the government to promote general welfare by formulating comprehensive plans and practicable programs for preparations against disasters, including hazard reduction, avoidance and mitigation," he said.


Monday, June 15 2009

(Editors Note: Anong klaseng mga tao itong mga ngpiprisinta na maging pangulo at pambansang pinuno nating mga Pinoy sa 2010? Anong ugali meron sila? Ano ang mga pinahahalagahan nila sa buhay? Inilalathala ng Bandera ang serye ng ating mga panayam sa mga taong maaaring tumakbo sa ating pampanguluhang halalan sa layuning makapagbigay ng patas na pagkakataon sa lahat ng “presidentiables” na mas makilala ng bayan. Hangad din nating makatulong sa mas makabuluhang pagdedesisyon sa kung sino ang dapat mamuno sa atin.)

Sey ni Gordon pag hindi siya nakatakbong pangulo sa 2010:
‘Para n’yong ibinangko si Michael Jordan’

Ni Liza Soriano

Sa harap ng mga hakahaka na marami ang aatras sa presidential derby sa 2010,
pinanindigan ni Sen. Richard Gordon na wala siyang balak uamtras sa laban.
Sinabi rin ni Gordon sa panayam ng mga editor ng Bandera na wala siyang
planong kumandidato sa posisyong mas mababa kaysa sa pagka-pangulo.

“Para ninyong ibinangko si Michael Jordan (NBA star) kapag hindi ako tumakbo sa
pagka-pangulo,” ani Gordon, 63, sa panayam ng mga taga Bandera sa editorial
office ng tabloid sa Makati city.

Desidido aniya siya na tumakbo bilang pangulo sa ilalim ng partidong kanyang binuo,
ang Bagumbayan.

Bagamat hindi pumapalo ang kanyang pangalan sa mga survey, naniniwala siya na ang
kanyang track record ang magpapakilala sa kanya sa taumbayan pagdating ng
election period.

Gayunpaman, inaamin ni Gordon na malaking mga kunsiderasyon sa pagtakbo bilang
pangulo ang financial capability, winnability at credibility, habang para sa ibang tao ay mga kunsiderasyon ang makinarya ng political party.

“ I don’t go by money because it doesn’t make anybody win for the presidency,” sabi ni Gordon.

Sinabi niyang maituturing niyang formidable opponent ang kandidato na mahaba ang pisi.

Kung pera rin lang ang pag-uusapan, maitututing na formidable opponent para kay Gordon si dating Senate President Manny Villar. Pero maaring hindi pera ang magdikta ng mananalo,

“ Villar is using a lot of money, (Nationalist People’s Coalition chairman emeritus) Danding (Cojuangco, who run in 1992) threw a lot of money, so did (former House Speaker Ramon) Mitra,so did ( former House Speaker Jose de Venecia… ( Former President Fidel) Ramos beat Danding and all the other guys kahit mas ay pera sila,” ani Gordon.

Iba naman daw ang kaso ni Joseph “Erap” Estrada, na itinuring na din niyang isang formidable opponent.

“Estrada won because he is not only popular, he had a lot of money,” ayon kay Gordon.

Nakatulong din aniya ang karisma at ang track record nito bilang mayor, senador at bise presidente.

Ipinagmalaki ni Gordon na isang magandang halimbawa ng kanyang track record kung paano niya naingat ang Subic matapos ang pag-alis dito ng base military ng US.

Ani Gordon, isa pang dapat na maging batayan ng mga botante sa pagpili ng susunod na pangulo ay ang ‘leadership motivation’ o kung paano babaguhin ng pinuno ang bansa at maiingat ang mamamayan tungo sa magandang hinaharap.

“You should make the people, draw out their values and make them move,” ani Gordon.

Sino ang taong ito?
(Mabilisang tanong, mabilisang sagot
ni Richard Gordon sa mga taga-Bandera)

Bandera (B): 5 bagay na ipinagmamalaki mo?
Richard Gordon (RG): Motivating people to do what they can do best, my work
ethic, walang abusado sa pamilya ko, proud of my record as mayor at Red
Crosser, ako lagi akong merong extra something for welfare of others

(B): Ginagawa sa spare time?
(RG): I read. Historical novel, non-fiction. When I started reading non-fiction, I
realized na intellectual na ako (laughs)

(B): Sino ang iyong bayani?
(RG): Dalawa ang hero ko, si (Jose) Rizal at si Lapu-Lapu

(B): Paano mo ide-define ang Pinoy?
(RG): May definition ako sa tao natin, na dapat ang tao natin ay must be
passionate, competent, competitive, united, liberal, secured and successful

(B): Pagkakaiba sa ibang leaders/ presidential candidate
(RG): May nagsasabi na A and B and class ko dahil magara and pangalan ko
Gordon, Amerikano. Akala nila elite. Pero among the senators, no one has ever
gone to putikan, baha. Nodbody has ever picked up dead people, carried them.

(B): Paboritong street food?
(RG): Kaya nga hindi ako nagkakasakit eh dahil nung bata kami may contact ang
father ko sa… cafeteria ng Amerikano. Pag’di nila (Amerikano) naubos yung
pagkain diretso sa drum. (Nilalagay) lang nila ‘yung pagkain sa drum kukunin
naming yung pagain na kanin baboy na. ‘Yung mga Amerikano were so wasteful,
tingnan nyo yung mga mansanas, buo, kukunin namin ang mga ‘yan tapos huhugasan sa
ilog tapos kakainin namin… I used to eat by the roadside. I always eat banana fritters,meryenda ko ngayon kamote at saging.

(B): Favorite basketball team?
(RG): I am a sportsman. I do basketball, I used to run track, I am a hall of famer.
I love basketball than football. I was a cheerleader of the Ateneo. UP is also my
team, I have roots eh. Ateneo, UP, and Letran

(B): Favorite actor?
(RG): Between Erap and FPJ… Hindi maligalig ang kanyang arte, simple lang
ang kanyang craft eh. Pero every-body has his own downside eh, he drank hard.
I don’t like that. Dapat pag lider ka everything must be done in moderation, pag
leader ka di ka umiinom para magpakalasing but to entertain yourself, to be with
your friends.

(B): Nagsusugal ka ba?
(RG): Nag blackjack ako dati then I lost money that I cannot afford to lose. Then I
was so ashamed of my self then I promised myself I won’t do it again.

(B): Kotseng ginagamit ngayon?
(RG): I have only Mustang 1965 and Toyota Fortuner. Sabi ko nga back up lang
nina Jinggoy (Estrada) ang kotse ko.

(B): Watch?
(RG): Rolex. The only luxury I have

(B): 5 tao na gusto mong makita sa langit?
(RG): My father, my grand-mother who raised me, St. Ignatius de Loyola,
Douglas MacArthur, I want to see if he’s still arrogant in heaven and Lapu-Lapu
or Rizal. -- Karagdagang ulat ni Liza Soriano

Posisyon ni Gordon sa ilang importanteng isyu

Bandera (B): sino sa tingin mo ang tunay na nanalo noong 2004 presidential elections?
Richard Gordon (RG): I think GMA really won the election and Fernando lost because he had no track-record. He was never a barangay captain, a mayor unlike Erap.

(B): Death penalty?
(RG): Ipinaglaban ko na maalis namin ‘yan dahil wala akong tiwala sa pulis na mag imbestiga.

(B): Third sex sa gobyerno?
(RG): Gays are welcome with me, I don’t have any problems working with them.

(B): Gays in military/PNP?
(RG): You can make a woman fight, but you can’t make a gay fight? There are gays who love to serve their country.

(B): Abortion?
(RG): I draw the line there. I don’t believe in abortion, you have to respect life. But I believe in quality population. A population where you can have more than one (child) provided that you can afford it.

(B): Pakikialam ang Simbahang Katoliko sa mga isyung politikal?
(RG): The church should not be meddling; they have been meddling for the last 400 years.

(B): Moratorium sa pagbabayad ng utang?
(RG): I don’t worry about debt; lahat ng business ay may utang eh. Ang importante, palakihin mo yung production mo para mabayaran mo yung utang. Whenever somebody borrows money, dapat bantayan natin ang gobyerno.

(B): Power Rates?
(RG): The thing I want people to remember is this: the prices will always go up, bihira and bababa. So what will you do? Rely on government? That’s an artificial situation that won’t last long anyway. Sa akin, make bicycle factories,
solar power, alternative power, choices of energy are available. The point is hindi ko papaasahin ‘yung tao na bababa yung presyo dahil hindi ito bababa.

(B): Legalization of jueteng?
(RG): Hindi matatalo ‘yang jueteng, that’s poor man’s entertainment. Ang posisyon ko diyan dapat legalize it, pag magulo ang bayan, may drugs, tanggalin mo yung jueteng. Wala kayong kikitain.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Awarding of automation project hailed as a step closer to credible polls

For successfully going through and concluding the bidding process for the automated election project, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today hailed the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Gordon, father of election modernization in the country and principal author Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the amended Automated Elections System Law, said the Comelec showed it is sincere in ensuring automation of the May 2010 National and Local Elections in issuing the resolution awarding the automation project to the winning bidder.

"The Comelec should be commended for going through the process of choosing the company that will provide the technology for our automated polls. This will take the nation a step closer to attaining every Filipino's dream of participating in a clean, honest and credible election in their lifetime," he said.

"Automating the elections is our one big shot at modernizing Philippine democracy. It is our chance of making each vote be counted, and each voice heard. It will show the world that we can implement the laws that we make," he added.

The poll body has agreed to use the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) technology, a system wherein optical paper ballots, hand-marked by the voters, are inserted for counting into optical ballot scanners placed in every polling precincts.

PCOS is an improved Optical Mark Reader (OMR) system, one of the two automation technologies used in the August 2008 automated elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

After a month-long bidding process, the poll body issued a resolution late Monday awarding the automation project to Smartmatic Total Information Management Inc.

Out of the seven companies that submitted bids last May 4, Smartmatic-TIM was the only one that passed all the eligibility, financial and technical requirements during the four-week bidding process. Its tender was P7,191,484,739.48 billion, about P4 billion lower than the Comelec's budget.

Gordon stressed that automating the elections would get the country out of the political rut that it has fallen into and is a step towards modernizing Philippine democracy.

"Having automated elections would allow us to resolve political disputes and allow elected candidates to concentrate on the business of providing good governance," he said.

Sobriety and restraint in holding of Anti-Cha Cha rallies

All sectors participating in Anti-Charter Change rallies nationwide should pursue their protests peacefully. At the same time, the police and military must demonstrate restraint and tolerance for the political exercise, appealed Senator Richard Gordon(Ind.)today.

"Demonstrations against charter change are valid, democratic exercises but it must also lead us to a more sober and dispassionate discussion of all the issues involved. We believe that the Supreme Court will not allow House Resolution 1109 to be implemented and thereafter, the discussion on Charter Change can be pursued without duress or haste," said Gordon.

The senator is opposed to House Resolution 1109, which dilutes and virtually negates the participation of the Senate in amending the Constitution. The resolution calls on the members of Congress to convene for the purpose of considering proposals to amend or revise the Constitution, upon a vote of three-fourths of all the members of Congress.

Article XVII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution provides that any amendment to - or revision of - the Constitution may be proposed by the Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members.

"This constitutional provision should not be misconstrued as a provision where both Houses of Congress vote jointly. The Constitution, the fundamental law of our land, is very clear as when Congress may vote jointly, and this does not include Charter change," said Gordon.

He stressed further that Charter change must be pursued in an atmosphere where there can be no suspicion that it will be used as a vehicle to protect or promote political interests.

"Charter Change must be done right - at the proper time, definitely after the May 2010 elections; for the right reasons, that is, for national interest, not personal and vested interests; and within the legal means under the Constitution," said Gordon.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

SSS condonation program enables resumption of members' entitlement to benefits

The proposed measure authorizing the condonation of penalties on delinquent contributions to the Social Security System (SSS) would enable employees of delinquent employers to resume their entitlement to benefits and loans, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) said today.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises, said that if an employer fails to pay contributions to the SSS, his employees are the ones who would ultimately suffer because they would be denied of their social security benefits.

"Delinquent contributions may be due to the financial difficulties faced by the employers, but the burden is passed on to the employees who would be denied of their benefits and loan privileges," he said.

"A condonation program would offer reprieve to thousands of employers with financial woes, while enabling their employees to resume their entitlement to benefits and loans," he added.

Gordon's Senate Bill 2454, which was recently approved on second reading, proposes the condonation of penalties on delinquent social security contributions.

He said that collection of delinquent payments through court litigation entails a long and tedious process. But a condonation program will facilitate and hasten the extra-judicial settlement of past due contributions from delinquent employers.

The senator explained that the program would cover all employers who are delinquent in the payment of their contributions including those with cases, involving the collection of contributions and penalties, pending before the Social Security Commission, the courts and prosecutor's office. Also included are employers whose cases were already adjudged but have not yet complied with the judgment..

Under the measure, the employer must submit the corresponding collection list and pay the principal obligation either in full, within a period of 12 months, or in installment, within a period of six months, from the effectivity of the Act.

"This condonation program of contribution penalties is an opportunity to immediately settle contribution delinquencies. It also paves the way for resumption of members' entitlement to benefits and loan privileges," Gordon said.

The SSS has twice implemented condonation programs on penalties for contribution delinquencies in 1987 and 1997. By the end of the second program in 1997, the SSS was able to collect P859-million in delinquent contributions.

Killing of journalist covering drug-bust operation in Rizal condemned

The killing of Jojo Trajano, a reporter of the local tabloid Remate who was killed while covering a drug-bust operation in Rizal early morning Wednesday was condemned by Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today.

Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), stressed that media practitioners risk their lives daily as they scout for news that the public should know about.

"Members of the Fourth Estate should be commended for their nobleness in risking even their lives just to provide timely and relevant information to the public, especially during times of national emergency and crisis," he said.

The senator underscored the necessity for insurance coverage for journalists in the field whose children and other loved ones are left bereft when tragedy occurs.

Trajano will be the third journalist to benefit from the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) inked last Jan. 14 between the PNRC and the National Press Club (NPC) granting insurance benefits to mediamen more so when covering disaster and conflict-stricken areas.

The first was Tonette Marquez who died two weeks after figuring in an accident on his way home. He was followed by Press Undersecretary Jo Capadocia.

Capadocia died last April along with seven other Palace officials when the presidential helicopter, which was supposed to bring them to Ifugao where President Arroyo was scheduled to visit, crashed.

All the 1,200 bonafide NPC members all over the Philippines were enrolled in the PNRC as "Platinum Members," which entitles media practitioners assigned to cover disasters and conflicts to an insurance package of up to P300,000.

Gordon explained that the insurance package would cover benefits for accidental death, disablement, dismemberment; and unprovoked murder and assault amounting to P300,000 provided by Prudential Guarantee and Assurance Inc.

The Platinum category also covers benefits for accidental medical reimbursement up to P10,000; burial assistance (as a result of accident) worth P5,000; and daily hospital allowance (maximum of 60 days) worth P200 per day.

Trajano and PO2 Virgilio dela Cruz were killed when police clashed with a band of suspected criminals in Rizal province shortly before dawn Wednesday.

Initial investigation revealed that Trajano tagged along to cover an operation against suspected drug peddlers and car thieves in San Vener Lupang Arenda, Barangay Sta. Ana, Taytay town at 2:25 a.m. when they were ambushed by the suspects.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

1.145-M government employees to benefit from salary standardization law

Some 1.145-million government employees are set to benefit from the salary standardization law which proposes to increase their salaries and benefits by a total of P125.6 billion over the next four years, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) said today.

Gordon, acting chairman of the bicameral conference committee, issued the statement after the ratification of the committee report on the amendments on the modified Compensation and Position Classification System or the Salary Standardization Law III principally authored in the Senate by Sen. Edgardo Angara.

The bicameral committee was headed by Gordon for the Senate panel, with Senators Miguel Zubiri and Pia Cayetano as members; and Quirino Rep. Junie Cua for the House Panel, with Representatives Edcel Lagman (Albay), and Salvador Escudero III (Sorsogon) as members of the House contingent.

Gordon, co-author of the bill, said the joint resolution adopts a Total Compensation Framework consisting of Basic Pay including Step Increments, Standard Allowances and Benefits, Specific-Purpose Allowances and Benefits, and Incentives.

"The resolution seeks to correct the distortions and inconsistencies in the present compensation system, taking into account the principle of "equal pay for work of equal value. It provides for a performance-based scheme to reward exemplary civil servants," he said.

"Under this resolution, a teacher who has a specialization in Science or Math will be granted a salary three steps higher in his or her assigned salary grade," he added.

There are 854,842 employees in the civil service and 290,877 personnel in the military service.

The salary increases will take effect on July 1, 2009 for national government entities and on Jan. 1, 2010 for local government units (LGUs).

The new salary schedule and base pay schedule shall be implemented in four equal yearly tranches. But full implementation may take less than four years because of a provision that for every P50 billion increase in the government budget, five percent shall go to government salary increases.

For LGU employees, their salary rates will be determined on the basis of their LGU's income class and financial capability, to be charged against their respective local government funds.

For Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and Government Financial Institutions (GFIs), their salary increase shall come from their respective corporate funds in their approved corporate operating budgets.

The Joint Resolution is pending ratification by both the Senate and the House of Representatives before being transmitted to the President for enactment into law.

"We are confident that this resolution will be ratified by both the Senate and the House of Representatives before Congress adjourns this week and that the President will prioritize its enactment into law," the senator said