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

Sunday, August 30, 2009

'First Gentleman, GMA must explain roles'

Sen. Richard Gordon yesterday called on President Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo to explain their presence at the ZTE main office in China at the height of the controversy surrounding the $329-million national broadband network (NBN) contract in 2006.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, said the First Couple should be cited for impropriety or possible violation of ethical conduct.

Gordon said the Arroyos went to the Shenzhen Golf Club in China, even played golf and had lunch with ZTE officials on Nov. 2, 2006.

A scandal later erupted, with reports alleging that the award of the NBN contract was being rigged to favor several individuals, Gordon said.

Gordon said the President should explain her meeting with ZTE officials at a time when there were supposed efforts by the camps of former House speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. and former elections chief Benjamin Abalos to corner the multimillion-dollar deal.

The senator noted that Mrs. Arroyo and her husband had been exonerated of any liability by the Ombudsman over the signing of the NBN deal with ZTE amid indications that their visit would formalize the signing of the scandal-ridden contract.

“It’s too early to say that (the Arroyos will be cleared of any liability) although in my report, there are issues that the President would have to explain,” Gordon told The STAR during the sidelights of GMA-7’s fun run event held yesterday.

Gordon stressed Mrs. Arroyo should explain why she went to the ZTE headquarters in China, her subsequent actions following her meeting with Chinese officials while Abalos’ and De Venecia’s groups were competing to bag the contract.

“Well, if you are the President and there is a big contract, you should not be playing golf with those who are pushing the contract. You should not dine with them. That is where the doubts arise,” he pointed out.

Gordon explained the Senate is not looking for the criminal aspect of the issue but to point out indications of unethical conduct on the part of the officials involved.

“We can recommend if there are clear evidence of lacking in ethical conduct since we have the code of ethics on people in government like the President, First Gentleman and even Speaker De Venecia, his son, Joey and even (whistleblower Rodolfo ‘Jun‘) Lozada,” Gordon said.

Over the weekend, Gordon declared De Venecia and his son and namesake Joey should also be held accountable.

Gordon said the Senate’s hearing on the issue set for tomorrow would tie the loose ends in the testimonies of witnesses.

The First Gentleman has been invited for tomorrow’s hearing to explain his side on the issue. Joey de Venecia and Lozada have so far confirmed their appearance in the hearing.

“We have seen many gaps that needed to be cleared. We want to fill up these gaps (in) re-opening the case,” Gordon said.

Gordon though admitted there is not enough evidence to pin down Mr. Arroyo on the criminal aspect.

Gordon added the President’s only fault was her apparent failure to pacify the camps of De Venecia and Abalos trying to corner the NBN contract.

Gordon explained the Senate hearing on the issue would focus on loopholes in the government procurement process in the light of the scandal left by the NBN-ZTE deal.

Gordon pointed out the problem lies in the ZTE deal that was not even part of any executive agreement between the Philippines and China.

Gordon also urged the public not to be carried by emotions that prevailed during the testimonies of witnesses at the initial stages of the Senate inquiry over the issue.

“We established that all concerned should explain because it showed that there were interested parties who were fighting to bag the deal,” Gordon said.

Gordon also said the suspension slapped by the Ombudsman against Neri is proper because he did nothing when he was informed of the irregularity.

“He should have been suspended not because he did not accept the bribe but because he failed to act and stop the bidding after he learned about the shenanigans by the differing interested parties. He should have cancelled the bidding outright,” Gordon said.

'First Gentleman, GMA must explain roles'
By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star)
Updated August 31, 2009 12:00 AM

MVP as possible Veep

Sen. Richard Gordon plans to get businessman Manuel Pangilinan as his running mate when he runs for the presidency next year.

Speaking to reporters at the Tatakbo Ka Ba? event of GMA 7 television at the Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig yesterday, Gordon, who is also Red Cross chairman, said he wants Pangilinan as his running mate because the country needs continuity to move forward.

“We need continuity and Manny Pangilinan is a good businessman, he can provide that,” he said.

“He just needs someone with an extensive experience in politics so he doesn’t get eaten up by the system.”

Gordon said if he wins, his six-year term would not be enough to move the nation forward because the country needs at least 20 years to recover from its economic woes.

“I have already talked to him and he is thinking about it… it would be a fantastic ticket,” he said.

Gordon said his credentials as local executive and lawmaker and Pangilinan’s experience in business, could help the country be at par with the rest of Southeast Asia, Japan and China.

He did not say whether he would run under the administration party or as an independent candidate.

Gordon said he had not campaigned early because his resources are limited.

“My resources come primarily from the common voters so I’m conserving my resources,” he said.

“And besides, candidates are only given 90 days to campaign so I will announce my presidential bid soon.”

Gordon and Pangilinan were classmates in college at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Gordon set to declare presidential bid, eyes MVP as veep
By James Mananghaya (The Philippine Star)
Updated August 31, 2009 12:00 AM

Saturday, August 29, 2009

RP still needs VFA

Stressing that the country still needs the support of the United States (US) military especially on the training of their local counterparts, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today said he is against the abrogation of the visiting forces agreement (VFA).

Calls for the cancellation of the VFA mounted again due to reports that the US forces participate in actual combat, which is a violation of the treaty. But Gordon said there is no need for a hasty decision to halt the agreement. "We should not be emotional about this issue. Let us study this carefully. I'll be frank, I would say we still need this agreement, our military needs it, and our country benefits from it," he said.

"On whether the US soldiers are engaged in combat operations, I do not know about that, but we have to have proof. If the American soldiers would go out there and participate in actual combat, that is prohibited. They are supposed to train our soldiers and they should not be engaged in any firefight unless they are in immediate danger," he added.

The senator explained that any move to cancel the VFA should be studied carefully because the agreement is actually beneficial not only to the military but also to the humanitarian needs of the country.

Gordon pointed out that aside from teaching new military strategies and providing new technologies to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the US military, through the VFA, also shares its knowledge and capacity to respond to different kinds of security challenges, such as terrorism, pandemics, natural disasters and transnational crimes.

He noted that the military, together with US soldiers, helped civilian rescuers after the entire village of St. Bernard in Guinsaugon, Southern Leyte, disappeared under mudslides on February 17, 2006.

Also, following the onslaught of Typhoon "Frank" in 2008, US troops delivered food and water and dispatched aircraft and medics to help the people of Panay who were badly affected by the disaster.

"We should also consider the fact that the US military has been there to help us even during disasters. They were there when the tragedy in Guinsaugon happened. We used their equipment, they provided relief materials. They help our military and they help our people," the senator said.


Q: There are recommendations na ipatawag si Ombudsman Gutierrez to explain the decision.

Sen. Gordon: I don't see why I should call her for this particular issue. I may call her for other reasons like Joc-Joc Bolante. But for this issue iko-concentrate ko muna lahat doon sa kaso ng ZTE dahil unang-una balita ko nag-waive siya dyan, hindi naman siya nakialam dyan. Kaya I would not call her muna. But I do know this, na nung sinasabi natin na magkakaroon ng hearing at malapit na ilabas yung report, sinabi ko kay Nene na ipapakita ko ang report at kung ipapakita ko payag ka ba na piso na lang ang budget ng Ombudsman, mukhang napilitan lumabas. Pero palagay ko kulang na kulang yung decision. Of course, we're not bound by their decision because we are a legislative agency, we do this in aid of legislation, but of course we will also recommend based on our findings, ipapadala naming sa Ombudsman, DOJ, maybe even to the Office of the President kung ano yung mga dapat panagutan, kung sino ang dapat nilang ihanda na kaso doon sa mga taong dapat kasuhan.

Q: Ano pa ang silbi ng ilalabas na report?

Sen. Gordon: Malaki dahil magkakaalaman dyan dun sa procurement, sinasabi nila exception yun sa executive agreement. Meron kaming nakita doon na mali. Pagdating ng imbestigasyon makikita nyo doon na hindi kasama talaga itong broadband doon sa pinag-usapan sa memorandum of understanding. Ang sinabi doon ay yung IT sa edukasyon pero hindi kasama ang broadband doon. Marami kaming nakita doon na kailangan magpaliwanag lahat ng mga kinauukulan sapagkat talagang may naglalaban-laban para makuha yung kontrata.

Q: Kasama ba si FG na dapat magpaliwanag?

Sen. Gordon: We will make the decision on Tuesday para makumpleto. We invited him subject to his availability. Lahat sila kung gusto nila pumunta at magdagdag o magpakita ng dokumento.

Q: Di ba dapat ang mangyari kayo ang magrekoemnda sa Ombudsman kung ano at sino ang kakasuhan, bakit inunahan ng Ombudsman?

Sen. Gordon: Hindi naman. Ang Ombudsman is an independent constitutional body yan. So dapat noong araw pa. Ang ipinagtataka ko bakit wala pa yung kay Joc-Joc. Parang napilitan lamang sila dito sapagkat lalabas na tayo ng investigation report sana, pinadagdagan ko lang ng isa dahil nakita namin ng staff ng blue ribbon, talagang marami kami nakitang gaps.

Q: Sa draft report sinu-sino yung ni-recommend nyo na file-an ng kaso ng Ombudsman?

Sen. Gordon: Yung sinabi ng Ombudsman yung dalawa yun at meron pang iba.

Q: The same cases din ba?

Sen. Gordon: Hindi ko pa nababasa yung sa Ombudsman pero syempre may pananagutan halos lahat sila sa iba't ibang mga batas, sa penal code, anti- graft, sa ethics, at sa behavior of public officials. At tandaan nyo ang committee naming ay malfeasance, ginawa ng hindi maayos; nonfeasance, hindi ginawa yung dapat gawin; at misfeasance, talagang sadyang mali yung pagkagawa.

Q: Sino ang may pagkukulang sa pagka-delay ng report? Yung former chairman o kayo? Kasi sinasabi ni Sen. Allan Cayetano na nung nagpalit ng leadership yung focus sa graft cases against the administration ay nalihis.

Sen. Gordon: The blue ribbon is not here to attack any particular individual. We are not designed to torpedo anybody. We were designed to look at malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance, at mga katiwalian sa gobyerno. Mr.. Cayetano had 12 hearings. Ako, mahirap hawakan ang isang kaso pag hindi ikaw ang nag-chair ng hearing kaya kailangan pag-aralan ng maigi. Talagang inuulit naming yung report dahil sa tingin naming meron kaming nami-miss. Pag inilatag naming yan sa Martes makikita nyo yung chronology, makikita nyo yung mga pumasok na ebidensya, lahat ng documentary at testimonial evidence. Yung mga kulang yun ang itatanong natin. Halimbawa, ano ang pakialam ni Abalos dyan. May undue interest ng isang taong di dapat makialam. Meron din mga nag iinteres na hindi naman dapat, magkakamag-anak pa, iyan ang isisiwalat natin. Ano ang responsibildad ng mga kalihim, may pananagutan ba sila? O mismong mga tao ng pangulo may kani-kaniyang abogado within the departments na nagtutulak ng kontrata. Tandaan nyo ang kontratang ito ay kontrata sa isang neighbor na napakalakas ng kapangyarihan dito sa Asia. Sa tingin ko ang ating gobyerno gusto nilang magkaroon ng magandang relasyon sa China, at ganun din ang China.

Q: Sa kamag-anak, are you referring to the former speaker?

Sen. Gordon: Among others. Basta dito sa final hearing, clean-up time natin ito, ilalatag natin lahat. Ipapakita natin yung chronology, kung sino yung nagsama-sama doon sa bawat chapter. Makikita ng tao kung sino yung walang ibang interes kundi kumita.

Q: Hanggang secretary levels lang, hindi na aakyat?

Sen. Gordon: Sa totoo lang kapag umakyat ka meron pa rin liability kung tutuusin pero ang liability ay hindi masyadong suportado ng matibay na katibayan. Ako naman ay independiente, masasabi ko na kung may dapat panagutan ang pangulo sasabihin ko yun.

Q: Yung back off statement ni Joey de Venecia parang innuendo lang ba yun?

Sen. Gordon: Joey de Venecia isn't exactly a credible witness dahil siya ay participant dito. Pangit pa rin sa panlasa at pananaw ng mamayan na porke anak ka ng Speaker ay nakikialam ka at hindi ka dapat nagsasalita ng mga bagay na ganyan. Sabi ko nga, hindi nangangahulugan na dahil ikaw ay nagsusumbong dito ay wala kang pananagutan. Lahat, ultimo si Lozada dapat magpaliwanag pa rin. Nawala tayo sa eksena nung ang lumutang ay yung kidnapping. Ang pakay kay Lozada ay kung may nalalaman siyang katiwalian na naganap dito sa paksaing ito.

Q: Enough na ba yung isang hearing?

Sen. Gordon: I think so dahil nakahanda kami ngayon eh. Nakuha na namin lahat.

Q: Assurance na a-attend sila sa hearing?

Sen. Gordon: I don't care if they don't attend. We are ready. Kung sila ay may ipapaliwanag, panahon na para magpaliwanag, kung ayaw nila then based on the facts we can make a decision. Ako hindi natatakot sa executive privilege sapagkat kung hindi man namin sila kayang ipatawag kung meron kaming hawak na dokumento pwede kong gamitin yun.

Q: Si Sec. Neri nabanggit nya na nabanggit nya ito sa Pangulo. Hanggang doon na lang yun?

Sen. Gordon: Titignan natin yung extend ng pagbanggit kaya dapat talaga magpaliwanag.

Q: Can you compel Neri to attend?

Sen. Gordon: We can compel anybody and they can say executive privilege. Executive privilege is not exactly a defense. When you say that may tinatago ka.

Q: Sabi nya dadalhin na niya hanggang sa kamatayan yun.

Sen. Gordon: Then mamamatay siya na may conclusion ang ibang tao na maaaring mali o maaring tama. Kasalanan niya dahil hindi niya nilinaw.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Aim for quality population

The government should create a policy that aims to have a quality population, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Independent) said.

Speaking at the national conference-workshop for the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the senator said that what is important is not the issue of reducing or increasing the country’s population but ensuring an educated, skilled and responsible citizenry.

“The Philippines remains apathetic to one of the biggest problems in our country today—the untrammeled growth of population which creates a quantitative rather than a qualitative population,” Gordon said.

“It is important that we come up with a population policy. We have to provide choices for our people. Our government should be able to provide quality education and health care services to our people and uplift the level of development of the country’s citizens,” he added.

Gordon stressed that the country’s population development is the responsibility of both the government and the citizenry.

He maintains that a couple should have the prerogative to have as many children as they want but the government would only shoulder the public expenses of up to the second child; beyond the second child, the couple will have to pay for pregnancy, public school, medication and other public expenses.

“We aim for a quality population. You can have as many children as you want, it is your choice, but you have to pay after your second child. We have to accompany everything with responsibility and proper information,” he said.

“The reproductive health bill is not the only answer to problems involving the country’s population growth. We have to utilize the present problem of our population and make it a qualitative population by supporting initiatives that will create new incentives for our people to be able to get better chances so that they will have better choices in life,” he added.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

RP still lacks political maturity

The Philippines is lagging behind its Asian neighbors in terms of development because the country still has no political maturity that allows Filipinos to be discerning in choosing its leaders, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) has pointed out today.

Gordon, father of election modernization in the country and author of Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the Amended Automated Elections System Law, explained that political maturity is attained when people already have the ability to discern and vote wisely.

"Political maturity does not depend on primaries but on the ability of the people to make judgments of their leaders. Maturity comes in when you are able to take the mask off from candidates and say 'That is not what I want,'" he said, speaking at the 8th Insights from the Alumni forum at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law in Diliman, Quezon City.

The senator noted that months prior to the campaign period, several officials who are planning to run in the May 2010 presidential elections are already spending hundreds of millions on television commercials that feature them cloaked in images that the poor masses could identify with because the officials still think they can get votes that way.

"Maturity means that the people can say, 'if you are violating the law now, how could I vote for you,'" he said.

Gordon added progress would come when the people are ready to elect leaders who would really address the problems confronting the nation, such as corruption, the worsening educational system and underdeveloped agriculture, among others.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Are we worthy of our heroes?

The question remains, are we worthy? In this day and age, in spite of all the martyrdom of many of our heroes, it would appear that we have not learned our lessons.

Corruption is still upon us; our military die and rebels die in war; there seems to be untrammeled assassinations in our country; motorcycle assassins abound; many mayors, many journalists, many politicians have been killed; apparently, we all know how to talk about the problem but we can’t seem to fix it.

My own father was assassinated and there was never any closure, neither was there any closure on Senator Ninoy Aquino’s assassination. Up to now, we can only suspect who actually had him assassinated. The essential matters, the sense of it all—justice—we have not been able to secure.

We need to have an attitude change in this country once and for all. That attitude has to come out from the fact that we have to learn our history, the fight upon which all our martyrs, including Sen. Aquino, had died for.

We have to start thinking of the common good. We have to think of the national interest. Even if we stumble and fall, we should rise together as a nation and learn from our mistakes. Maybe then can we prove ourselves worthy of all these sacrifices.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Food Donation bill pushed as thousands face hunger in typhoon ravaged areas. SB 150 allows hotels and restaurants to donate excess, untouched food.

Fresh from a visit to flooded areas in Botolan, Zambales where he survived a near fatal road mishap while distributing relief goods as Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) stressed the urgency of passing the Food Donation Bill to stem the tide of hunger that rises every year during the typhoon season.

Gordon explained that during typhoons, farmers and fishermen in devastated areas are the first to suffer. Apart from the loss of income due to crop damage, people in devastated areas also face a shortage of food.

"A huge number of our countrymen go hungry during the typhoon season and perhaps their suffering is made even worse when they learn that some people can afford to pay thousands of pesos for a single meal," said Gordon.

"What is even more disturbing is that in even the most expensive restaurants, there is an excess of untouched food that is just thrown away because restaurant owners cannot give it away. Our bill allows them to donate clean and untouched excess food," he added.

SB 150 or the Food Donation Bill recently passed on third reading. Apart from helping alleviate hunger among disaster victims, it also aims to help out the sixteen million less fortunate Filipinos who cannot provide for their basic food requirements.

Gordon explained that the Food Donation bill is not intended as a dole out but to address the increasing hunger rate in the country. The idea is to collect excess food, NOT leftovers, from parties, buffets and from restaurants and fast food chains.

"Through this bill, we can teach the poor to create food opportunities for themselves. The object of this bill is to try and breach those gaps or periods of hunger. At the same time, we are giving them a helping hand until they can regain their ability to feed themselves and therefore get back their dignity," he said.

State Visits: Be frugal and bring home results

The purpose of state visits is to bring in investments and other positive results to the country, stressing that such trips should be made not only productive but also frugal, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today said.

"State visits, or even working visits, are important since we must compete with the rest of the world. It opens doors of opportunities for our country and promotes our interests abroad. However, it must achieve concrete and tangible results for our people that are commensurate, if not more than the cost, to the taxpayer," he said.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her party are being criticized for reportedly having spent close to P1 million for a dinner at a classy New York restaurant during her visit to the United States last week to meet with US President Barack Obama.

"If it is true that such an amount was spent, that will not be good. We are not a rich country. Our people are suffering from poverty and the purpose of these foreign travels is to promote and push our country and interests in the world stage to bring in economic and political dividends like tourism, trade and investments for their benefit," Gordon said.

In his official travels abroad, Gordon always made sure that his trips were fruitful and used the opportunity to further our national interest.

In 1981, his first official travel when he was mayor of Olongapo, Gordon went to the US for a USAID leadership seminar. He grabbed the opportunity to push for the benefits of Filipino World War II veterans as America's debt of honor and lobbied for the joint use of their military bases in Subic and Clark for trade and subsequently continued to do so in future trips until both eventually came to pass.

"When we were promoting Subic in the 1990's as SBMA chairman, my staff and I scrimped on hotel accommodations, had hosted meetings over dinner and lunch and relied on our embassy logistics available to cut down costs," Gordon said.

"We worked ourselves to the bone with full appointments to promote and bring in investments to Subic. Our record is clear, close to US$ 3 Billion in investments and 90,000 jobs," he added.

As tourism secretary in year 2000, Gordon also did the same thing. His travels abroad were aimed at promoting the country's tourism. He used creativity to cut costs by tapping overseas Filipino workers as volunteer tourism ambassadors in places with no tourism attaches.

"Instead of lavish and expensive exhibits at our country's booths in major Tourism Trade Fairs in Europe, we personally manned the booths and did the promoting ourselves with the private sector. In our travels we always made sure to get the Philippines published in travel journals and on TV by way of interviews to cut advertising costs," said Gordon.

Despite the negative image, SARS, 911, Oakwood and terrorism threats, Gordon got the message across for people to visit the Philippines, jobs were created and tourist arrivals started to grow breaking two million in 2002.

"State visits must achieve substantial results, not promises for our people. We should spend as little as possible while bringing back as much as possible in terms of investments and jobs, and forging better relations with the countries we are visiting," Gordon said.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Stop impeding automation of 2010 polls

Poll automation detractors should stop slowing down efforts to automate the May 2010 presidential elections to allow for clean, honest and credible electoral exercises next year, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today urged.

Gordon, the father of election modernization in the country and author of Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the amended Automated Elections System Law, pointed out that former President Corazon Aquino's death has awakened the people and they are now clamoring for change in Philippine politics.

"With the nation grieving for Cory, Philippine politics must be redeemed in the next elections where we must vote for candidates who possess the transformational values of People Power," he said.

"Automating the elections next year will be a game-changer in Philippine politics and will take the country out of the political rut that it has fallen into. Speed will be the operative word in automated elections. Hence, it will ensure that the people's votes will really be counted and their voices will really be heard," he added.

Gordon made the call after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has expressed concern that a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court against the poll automation contract will ensure a return to manual elections in 2010.

"Papaano tayo magkakaroon ng demokrasya kung hindi natin aayusin ang ating pagboto? Why don't we give automation a chance? Ang mindset kasi natin, hindi pa tayo nagsisimula tinatali na natin ang ating sarili," he said.

The Concerned Citizens' Movement (CCM), a civil society group, asked the Supreme Court to prevent the release of P2.875 billion in advance payments to contractor Smartmatic-TIM, even as an earlier petition against the contract to automate the 2010 elections is still pending.

The CCM expressed fears that the alleged "violations" in the contract have put government at the losing end should the project fail. CCM claimed that if ever the SC later decides in their favor and orders the cancellation of the deal, the government would not be able to retrieve initial payments made by the government.

An oral argument was held at the Supreme Court last July 29. The High Bench ordered all the parties to submit within 10 days after the oral argument.

Public reminded to be prepared for disasters as typhoons hit the country

The public must remain alert and always prepare for disasters as typhoons hit the country one after the other, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today said.

Gordon said that the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), which he chairs, has already conducted relief operations in areas in Mindanao affected by Tropical Storm "Jolina", and has mobilized its Red Cross 143 volunteers to assist victims and monitor the situation in their respective barangays as Typhoon "Kiko" continues to affect the country.

Initially, the PNRC chapters in Mindanao have provided hot meals to 3,847 persons in Cotabato, supplied food relief items to 127 families in General Santos City, and conducted emergency rescue to families from flooded areas to evacuation centers.

"The Red Cross is committed to alleviate human suffering. We are always first, always ready, and always there to serve the people. At the same time, it is also our commitment to uplift human dignity, and so we ask the public to always be alert and be prepared so they can already help themselves and their neighbors especially during times of disasters," Gordon said.

The senator reiterated the need for disaster preparedness and mitigation measures to end the cycle of disaster that continues to haunt the country.

Gordon is a co-author of Senate Bill No. 3086, the Philippine Disaster Risk Management Act of 2009, which mainly aims to establish disaster preparedness and mitigation measures to decrease disaster vulnerability, increase capability for recovery, and enhance over-all resilience to calamities.

"We are poor because we have not learned from our disasters. We need to have disaster mitigation measures so we can easily organize local officials, volunteers and the public in times of calamities," Gordon said.

The PNRC under Gordon's leadership has created the Red Cross 143, which is a group of volunteers in every barangay who will serve as the eyes, ears, hands and feet of the Red Cross in every community.

The duties of the members of the Red Cross 143 include: (1) Predict possible threats in the community; (2) Plan what to do in times of disasters; (3) Prepare the community for what it would need; (4) Practice or conduct first aid trainings and emergency evacuation drills; (5) Report instantly to the Red Cross pertinent information about the disaster; and (6) Respond immediately to those in need.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Prayer for Cory

Lord, today you have given us a mighty gift in the person of Corazon Aquino. She was a housewife and yet she became president. A presidency na hindi niya ginusto ngunit ibinigay Ninyo sa amin.

She was a simple person and yet she overcame mighty powers in this country. During her presidency, Lord, she kept her faith in You. Palagi siyang tinutugis at nakikita po natin noong panahon na iyon, she was always being criticized, being abused. Public media tried to weaken her confidence, politicians tried to ruin her administration and weaken the country. And yet all the time, she was always with You and she always looked upon You.

This woman was given to us by You Lord and we, perhaps, have not been worthy to receive her. Today, we ask that we be worthy. This country that cannot seem to put itself behind the national interest. This country that cannot overcome its indifference. This country that cannot overcome its disrespect for one another. This country that could not overcome its partisanship.

Lord, we ask that You give us the gift that You gave Cory Aquino, that we be worthy of this country. That we live with her life as an example, and that of her husband, as our inspiration to make this country a better nation. Amen.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cory: "An icon of democracy and moral leadership; an advocate of peace and unity"

An icon of democracy, advocate of peace and unity, and a model of moral leadership was how Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) described the late President Corazon C. Aquino.

In filing Senate Resolution 1247, Gordon honored former President Aquino, who passed away last August 1, as one of the greatest symbols of freedom and democracy.

"President Aquino is not just an ordinary president, she is a symbol of democracy. Much is always expected of a president but as far as I am concerned, in terms of moral ascendancy, she surpassed that," he said.

"Her moral ascendancy and personal rectitude has been recognized all over the world and the numerous awards and citations she has received have brought immense pride to our country," he added.

Gordon pointed out that the 1986 People Power Revolution has become an example of peaceful transition by means of mass action for the rest of the world and served as a model of nonviolent revolutions that ushered the emergence of democratic countries in Eastern Europe.

He also said that through Aquino's strong moral leadership and her faithfulness to the democratic process and the rule of law, her administration withstood the seemingly insurmountable challenges and several attempts by civilian and military forces to take power outside the law.

"Under President Aquino's leadership, separation of powers was re-established through the reorganization of Congress and the restoration of the Supreme Court," he added.

Gordon stressed that Aquino continuously showed her unswerving commitment to transparency and good governance even after her retirement from the political scene, as she supported EDSA II in 2001, a peaceful expression of the Filipino people's disgust over corruption and abuse.

"The very fact that she was able to protect the democracy of our country makes her somebody that should have had a state funeral. But I think the greatest honor is what we see on the streets right now, the long line of people, the great number of Filipinos who are going there and showing their respect to President Aquino," he said.