Thursday, August 30, 2007
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-08-26
Senator Dick Gordon is an action man who chooses to be in the front lines. Thus, it comes as no surprise that while blabber mouths in Malacañang Palace, Congress and the Senate pontificate from a safe distance - Dick Gordon was in the heart of the conflict in Mindanao.
Leading the Red Cross in ministering to the needs of civilians in the strife-affected areas, Gordon gets that rare opportunity to know the deepest emotions and thoughts of the people there.
Anyone who has a say in the furtherance of that conflict should seriously consider Dick Gordon's report and set of recommendations that were submitted to Senate President Manny Villar.
Here are the highlights of Dick Gordon's August 20, 2007 five-point summary:
“From what we saw and heard first-hand, we believe that the situation in the two islands (Basilan and Sulu) can considerably be improved if peacekeeping efforts are matched by vigorous action to enhance basic governance - i.e. the projection of government authority and the provision of basic public and social services. Specifically, we noted the following:
1. Despite the recent hostilities in Basilan and Sulu, which have claimed many lives and injured others, the area is by no means a war zone. The situation is under control. This is not to minimize the seriousness of the terrorist threat and the high toll of lives of recent incidents there. But the fighting has occurred mainly in a few pockets of the two islands where the campaign against terrorist bands, particularly the Abu Sayyaf, is being prosecuted.
The focus of complaint and worry of the local people is not peace and order but the poor provision of basic services (such as schools, water service and roads), the payment of salaries to teachers, and support for economic activities and livelihood.
2. The education situation is disturbing. Many teachers and government employees in Basilan and Sulu are complaining of not having received their salaries for as long as six months and more.
On the bright side, we witnessed some cheering scenes in the schools we visited. In one school, we joined Tausug grade school students in singing the national anthem and reciting the oath of allegiance to the Republic. In another school we saw grade school students gather and listen to a debate among students running for election to their student council. Noteworthy also is the fact that in these schools, the teachers and students go to school in uniform.
It would be good if government can move fast to build and repair more schools, provide water facilities in the region and shore up support for the teachers. There is no lack of desire among the teachers; they have the passion and willingness to educate, as exemplified by their continued work despite not receiving their salaries.
3. In our visit to the Jolo Integrated Provincial Hospital, we found much to cheer about. Health care services were available. The place was spotless and very orderly.
In Basilan, health services and livelihood are inadequate. They do not lack dedicated and caring people there. But they do need more support and provisions for their services.
4. On the economic front, business and commerce go on as usual in both islands. In the campus of the Jolo Agricultural School, we visited a site that used to be a dumping ground for bodies. It is now being used for poultry raising. We found high school and college students bottling sardines, mangosteen and durian. Everywhere we went, we were being offered bananas, lanzones and other fruits.
Another move that could really help the regional economy is for the government to finish the circumferential road in Isabela City in Basilan and other road projects. This will pave the way for local prosperity because of the increase in the number of rubber trees and the abundant production of lanzones.
What I am suggesting here is that we should consider a change in perspective and approach to the area.
5. After taking everything into account therefore, we believe that the campaign against terrorism will yield more lasting results if the military effort is matched by a comprehensive effort to build up the physical, social and legal infrastructure in Basilan and Sulu, as well as in ARMM in general. The autonomous region is quite simply the poorest in the country.
Mindanao, including Sulu and Basilan, is not a war zone. What we face there is a battle for hearts and minds.”
* * *
Gordon provides a holistic approach that is backed by a thorough understanding of the problem. Gordon even sees the potential of Basilan and Sulu as tourist destinations - an idea the regime quickly grabbed and mouthed without as much as crediting Gordon for conceiving it.
The Mindanao problem is made worse by the emotional hysteria and military adventurism of people who do not understand the scope and seriousness of the issues surrounding the Muslim secessionist movement.
Many Filipinos delude themselves into thinking that the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) - poorly equipped, greatly divided and deeply demoralized - has what it takes to quell the Muslim rebellion. They forget that even the US and Spain had failed miserably in crushing Muslim insurgency in Mindanao.
A similar scenario plays out in Iraq today. A high-tech, military savvy America is waging an un-winnable war despite the advantage of fighting in an open desert terrain.
Our AFP is far from being high-tech and Mindanao is not an open desert. Its jungles and mountainous terrain provide ideal cover for insurgents who can so easily draw sympathy from fellow Muslims who had long suffered from neglect.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Senator Richard Gordon, who is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), visited Sulu Wednesday to look at the situation of the different evacuation centers that were set up as a result of ongoing conflict between government troops and rebel groups.
On Thursday, the senator will fly to Zamboanga City to meet with Mayor Celso Lobregat, who is also Red Cross governor, together with members of the local PNRC board of directors, and later proceed to Isabela in Basilan to also check on the humanitarian mission undertaken by the Red Cross in the province.
Local Red Cross Administrator Vic Liozo Jr. said Gordon visited evacuation centers in Jolo to evaluate immediate needs of the people in consultation with the provincial PNRC chapter and government officials. In Basilan, the senator will also confer with the Provincial Red Cross chapter and local officials there relative to the condition of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), who vacated their homes for fear of their safety due to the military operations in Al-Barka, according to Liozo.
(Sheila E. Covarrubias/Sunnex)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Address of Sen. Richard J. Gordon
Joint Tourism and Trade & Investment Committee
Briefing American Chamber of Commerce
Corinthian Plaza Building
14 August 2007
I welcome this opportunity to meet with these two committees of the American Chamber of Commerce, especially to discuss with you a topic that I have lived with and championed for well over a decade now.
To anyone who says that I am pushing this proposed Tourism Act of 2007 because I am one of the presidential wannabes in year 2010, I will remind them that I was championing an aggressive national tourism policy way back when I was the chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority in 1993, eight years before I became tourism secretary and over a decade before I became senator.
I have stood on this issue before the Senate and before any forum that cared to listen because I really believe that tourism can be a powerful engine for national development. Despite my relentless advocacy, however, I must report that Congress has not yet fully agreed with me and passed the law. In the last session of the last Congress, the Senate passed the vital measure. But a counterpart measure was not as lucky in the House, a victim of congressional absenteeism and absentmindedness.
So now the proposed Tourism Act must pass muster in the new Congress, and all the pitfalls and challenges that naturally come with a new body of legislators, many of whom are seeing action in the legislature for the first time.
I have refiled Senate Bill 88, complete with the amendments and refinements introduced by my peers in the previous Senate. And my counterparts in the House have done the same. It remains to be seen whether both houses will treat the issue with energy and dispatch so that the Tourism Act of 2007 will indeed come to pass this year – and not in another season.
You would think that a country that needs more jobs for its unemployed, more economic activity in its far-flung regions, more export receipts to sustain the momentum of growth – you would think we would rush passage of a bill that, implemented earnestly, could easily result in a million new jobs and billions of dollars in foreign exchange every year. But no, it has not happened.
Our legislators have been slow to take up the challenge. And oddly, even some members of our tourism industry have actually fought us, anxious to protect their privileges from the liberalizing effects of a serious tourism development program.
This conundrum is not unique to the Philippines, however. I would remind you that up to now – counting from the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, John Lennon to who knows how many others – American legislators still have to marshal the will to pass a gun control law. Even the recent awful spectacle of gun violence in an American university has not stirred much action in the US Congress.
In the Philippines you might say that we have the equivalent of the National Rifle Association. But I can assure you that in this fight for the Tourism Act, common sense and public interest will prevail. It's just a question of when.
Objectives of the Tourism Bill
Members of Amcham need no instruction from me about the great importance of tourism as a global industry today. Its compelling strengths can be quickly summarized:
Tourism is considered the biggest industry in the world, with links to many industries. It produces 12% of the world GDP.
According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, the year 2007 has started on a higher than expected note for global tourism. From January through April, international tourist arrivals worldwide rose by over 6% to 252 million, representing an additional 15 million, representing an additional 15 million arrivals as against the same in 2006.
At the close of the 20th century, tourism accounted for one out of every 10 jobs in the world. Today, the industry now accounts for one out of nine workers.
Significantly, world tourism today is growing well ahead of forecasts. In 1995, with tourism arrivals standing at 534 million, it was projected that international tourism arrivals will reach 937 million by 2010. UNWTO's Tourism 2020 Vision forecasts that tourism arrivals are expected to reach nearly 1.6 billion by year 2020. Of these worldwide arrivals in 2020, 1.2 billion will be intraregional and 378 million will be long haul travelers.
The year 2007 is showing a higher than expected note for global tourism. Arrivals are up by over 4%. Significantly, Asia and the Pacific has achieved the strongest growth as 9%, with Europe coming up close with 6%. Although arrivals to the Americas stood at 4%, this performance is double the 2007 forecast growth of 2%.
Amidst these clear signs of a booming global industry, the Philippines' share in the boom has been small. This despite the remarkable wealth of natural and cultural sites in the country. And the often-celebrated tourism experience in the Philippines.
We will generate by yearend some 3 million in tourist arrivals this year.
These will contribute some $2.5 billion in tourist export receipts.
While those numbers are unprecedented in the country, they pale in comparison to the tourism dividends of our neighbors. Thailand gets 12 million arrivals yearly; Malaysia 15.7 million; Singapore 8 million, Indonesia 5 million. And now Vietnam, which just three years ago had fewer arrivals than us, has already overtaken us with 2.2 million arrivals  for the first 6 months of this year.
This sluggish performance of the Philippines in a booming global industry is what the proposed Tourism Act is principally designed to correct. The bill squarely addresses the many reasons why we are underperforming in tourism, and the specific steps that must be taken for Philippine tourism to rise finally from the shallows and partake of the boom in global tourism.
Three major policies are mandated by the bill:
- To establish a national policy for tourism as an agent for investment, employment, growth and national development;
- To reorganize the Department of Tourism and its attached agencies so that it can effectively and efficiently implement that national policy; and
- To provide necessary incentives for domestic and foreign investment in tourism.
It seems so elementary but we don't have a national policy for tourism development as an integral part of national development planning. Up to now, the sector has been treated as a poor cousin of manufacturing and other industries, a surreal export receipt, and therefore undeserving of the same incentives given to other kinds of investments.
Because the industry consists of so numerous players – many of them small and medium-scale enterprises – it has ironically been treated as a wallflower at the big dance of national modernization and development.
The Tourism Act will end this nonsense. Tourism has as much right, if not more right, to join the big dance as the other industries. Its contribution alone to GDP, employment and export receipts has earned it this right.
Towards Global Competitiveness
With the policy and institutional changes, the proposed Tourism Act then identifies three key elements in our strategy to make the Philippine more globally competitive in tourism.
First, we will raise tourism standards across the board all over the country.
Second, we will strengthen our promotions abroad so that we will host 10 million tourist arrivals within five years.
And third, we will develop our tourism stock by creating new tourism zones to bring in investments and create jobs.
Raising tourism standards is about improving the service we give to tourists. We can no longer measure our tourism by local standards or what we used to do in the past. We have to measure ourselves against the world. This is what it means to be globally competitive.
Tourists must know what they can expect when they goes to a Philippine hotel, tour operator and tourist destination. They can expect good service comparable to other international tourist destinations and organizations. They will get their money's worth, They will be safe.
To enforce standards, there has to be a system of accreditation. Only enterprises that meet established standards will be accredited. Likewise the enterprises will be classified and graded so tourists will know what they get when they purchase a particular service.
Because so much of tourism is local, the enforcement of standards has to be the combined effort of the national and local governments.
Strengthening promotions is the second imperative for global competitiveness because the only way tourists will visit our country is if they know about us. We have to go out more, promote more, and market more. This was my shocking discovery as tourism secretary in the Macapagal-Arroyo government. We hardly spent anything and we didn't have much of a marketing and promotions program in tourism.
In contrast, it is no mystery why Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore have been leaving us in the dust. They don't have better destinations than us. Neither do they provide a more memorable tourism experience. They simply spend more to promote and advertise their tourist destinations and services.
Malaysia and Thailand reportedly spend over a hundred million dollars annually on tourism promotions and marketing. In return, their tourist arrivals exceed 10 million annually – 12 million for Thailand and 15 million for Malaysia. These in turn translate to over $10 billion in tourist revenues for each.
In contrast, we in the Philippines spend no more than $7 million annually on tourism promotions. It is true, of course, that our government is cash-strapped, and that there are so many things we should spend money on. Yet the simple fact is this: it takes only a few dollars in promotions to bring in one tourist to our country, and that one tourist will likely spend anywhere from $800 to $1000 during his stay. The budget is returned several hundreds of times over.
With the proposed Tourism Act, tourism promotions will become a strategic investment in tourism development. It spells out ways to raise from P4 to P5 billion for tourism promotions – to match what our neighbors are doing. This is less than half of 1% of the P1.126 trillion national budget.
The third leg of our tourism strategy is to build up our tourism capacity by developing tourism zones in strategic areas of the country.
Over the last four years, our tourism industry has been operating at capacity. Hotel rates now are very expensive because of this. And yet despite growth in tourist arrivals, there have been few, new investments in capacity building.
It is therefore of urgent importance that the country embark on a major development program to increase capacity by building new hotels, resorts and other tourism infrastructure.
The proposed Tourism Act mandates the creation of the Tourism Enterprise Zone Authority (TEZA), which will take charge of attracting domestic and foreign investments to develop entire tourism zones, build hotels and resorts, malls and museums, and all sorts of tourism enterprises. TEZA will supervise development to prevent the untrammeled consumerism that sometimes disfigures tourism and damages the environment. It will be fair and firm toward investment, require adherence to a development plan, and provide penalties for violations.
Fiscal and Non-fiscal Incentives
Since the Amcham committees here today are concerned with investments, let me discuss the incentives package contemplated by the proposed Tourism Act. The package consists of both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.
The Fiscal Incentives are:
Income tax holiday for six years.
Gross income taxation – In lieu of all other national and local taxes, license fees and imposts and assessments, except real estate taxes and such fees as may be imposed by the TEZA, a new enterprise shall pay a tax of 3% on its gross income, to be distributed as follows: -- one-third to be allocated to affected local governments -- one-third to the national government -- one-third to the TEZA
Capital investment and equipment – 100% exemption from all taxes and duties on capital equipment importations, and accelerated depreciation at a rate twice as fast as the normal rate.
Goods and services – goods importation exempt 100% of all taxes and customs duties plus a tax credit equivalent to all national revenue taxes paid on all locally produced goods and services
Social responsibility incentive – a registered enterprise shall be entitled to a tax credit equivalent to a reasonable percentage of the cost of environmental protection or cultural heritage preservation activities.
On the non-fiscal side, the incentives are:
Employment of foreign nationals
Special investors' resident visa
Foreign currency transactions – -- repatriation of investments -- remittance of foreign exchange -- foreign loans and contracts – right to remit payments to loans
No requisition of investment except in the event of war or national emergency, and only for the duration thereof.
Lease and ownership of land without prejudice to existing laws regulating the ownership of land by individuals and corporations
The incentives package has been a source of worry to our Department of Finance because we want the incentives to be extended to the entire chain of tourism industries – from hotels to transportation, tours, travel agents, and even the management and preservation of the environment.
I believe that at present the BOI and PEZA investments are not enough. In 15 years, PEZA has only established one tourism estate. BOI does not even consider tourism a separate sector; its attention is focused on export manufacturing and BPOs.
While BOI has incentives for tourism, these are extended to hotels only. I've told the finance department that its worry over revenue losses is fictional. How can there be revenue losses when there are no new investments entering the industry? How can you tax something that doesn't exist yet, and will only exist if you provide the incentives? At the end of the day, this is really about giving tourism its due in our country.
Tourism is an industry with tremendous potential at the present time. Just as it helped Thailand during its recovery from the 1997 financial crisis, so it can help us cope with the challenges of globalization.
Through this law, we are asking of government no more incentives than that which it is already giving other industries. Whatever refinements we have added are those that specifically arise from the nature of travel and tourism as an industry. It is unique, after all, that as a bona fide export earner, tourism does not send goods or services abroad. The good and the service stays here at home. Only the experience leaves with the tourist when he departs.
Let me now summarize and conclude.
The head of the WTO Francesco Frangialli has reported that "growing recognition of tourism's contribution to economic growth and job creation means that it is being given more and more attention by national governments, especially those in developing regions. Increased investment in infrastructure, marketing and promotion, development of domestic markets, liberalization of air transport, growing intraregional cooperation, and a growing number of public-private partnerships are key factors that have helped the tourism industry to expand."
Here in the Philippines, we have still have some way to go before tourism development can go full steam ahead. There is still some ambivalence on the part of government and the private sector. Total commitment to tourism development has not yet to happen.
Yet the overwhelming evidence that tourism is booming in our time and is a major boost to developing countries like the Philippines has compelled attention from many sectors of our society. As our campaign for the proposed Tourism Act continues, we are encouraged by the fact that we have considerably more supporters and advocates today than we had at the start. The Senate has registered its full support and should do so again. President Arroyo will likely certify the bill as urgent to the new Congress. So I keep my fingers crossed that before this new fiscal year is over this measure will fully become law. Then can we start the full-scale development of tourism in our country.
Monday, August 13, 2007
The problems our country faces today are the same problems our country faced ten years ago and will face ten years from now… Unless and until we elect a President in 2010 with a proven ability to make CHANGE that is for real, for better, for everyone and for generations to come.
Making positive transformation a reality for our country makes for tough and terrible work. It takes nothing less than Vision, Experience, and Track Record. And only one man fits these criteria for leadership, that man is no other than Dick Gordon.
He sparked and fanned the flames of a new brand of volunteerism that brought about the successful turnaround of Olongapo City, the emergence of Subic Bay as a premier investment and tourism destination, and the resurgence of Philippine tourism through WOW! Philippines.
As Senator, Gordon continues to move the Filipino Nation forward to better horizons, away from the muddling and reactionary politics of present times with laws and resolutions aimed at rectifying the faults of our public institutions and restoring our people’s faith in government.
As Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, he has personally led countless of rescue and rehabilitation efforts in countless natural and man made disasters.
As our country’s future President, we believe that Gordon’s transformational leadership will move our people to realize their full potential for greatness and lead our country to attain greater heights of progress.
Don’t leave change to chance… Kinabukasan mo at ng pamilya mo ang nakataya, bahala na o ikaw ang bahala?
HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP ELECT DICK GORDON FOR PRESIDENT
10 for 2010
Let us not leave change to chance. Let us protect our own future. Let us elect our own leader. Together, let us make Dick Gordon our next President.
Below are 10 simple things we can do for 2010. Spread the word. Victory is in our hands. Our country depends on us.
1. Join Team Gordon 2010
- Please send the following contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org : Name; Address; Mobile Phone Number; E-Mail Address
2. Recruit and Organize for Team Gordon 2010
- Recruit at least 10 new members per month and forward their contact details to email@example.com
- Build your own Team Gordon 2010 chapter in your province, city or municipality by electing your own officers and holding your own events/activities and have it officially recognized by the Team Gordon 2010 national headquarters thru firstname.lastname@example.org
- Host/sponsor your own event/activity and get Dick Gordon to attend by sending an invitation to email@example.com
3. Give Feedback to Team Gordon 2010
- Please transmit urgent or important local issues and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please report emergencies or disasters in your respective areas to email@example.com
- Please relay information on special events and occasions like fiestas or birthdays of influential members of the local community and the like to firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Submit Mobile Phone Numbers to Team Gordon 2010
- With the permission of the owners of the Mobile Phone Numbers, please submit them to email@example.com for inclusion in the databank and the text broadcast list
5. Submit E-Mail Addresses to Team Gordon 2010
- With the permission of the owners of the E-Mail Addresses, please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the databank and the mailing list
6. Donate Funds for Team Gordon 2010
- Please send the following contact details to email@example.com : Name; Address; Mobile Phone Number; E-Mail Address
7. Lend Vehicle/s for Team Gordon 2010
- Please send the following contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org : Name; Address; Mobile Phone Number; E-Mail Address
- Please send the following vehicle details to email@example.com : Type of Vehicle (Bus, Coaster, Van, SUV/AUV, Sedan); Seating Capacity
8. Offer Accommodation/s for Team Gordon 2010
- Please send the following accommodation details to firstname.lastname@example.org : Type of Accommodation(Hotel; Home); Bed Capacity
9. Join Entourage of Team Gordon 2010
- Please indicate if willing to join entourage of visit of Dick Gordon within the: Region; Province; City; Municipality
10. Produce/Print Collaterals for Team Gordon 2010
- Please indicate if willing to produce/print: Streamers; Posters; Pamphlets; T-Shirts; Others
We can choose any or all of the above choices.
It is entirely up to us.
But let us not leave change to chance.
Let us shape our own tomorrow, today.
A mere spectator
By Taipan Millan
One small voice
Sunstar Davao Monday, August 13, 2007
THE time to talk about 2010 is now. It is never too early to talk about the future, especially if it is our own future we are talking about.
The choices that we have are unfortunately limited. There really cannot be any surprises if the position aspired for is the presidency. There are no accidental Presidents.
For even if the situation that catapults someone to the presidency appears to look like an accident, even that accident is surely scripted.
Therefore, those who will eventually file their candidacies and actually run for President are definitely making their moves now, whether discreet or deliberate.
It should follow then that the people's search for the next leader of the country should also begin now.
And this search, in order to come up with a positive result for our people, should be guided by a set of standards or qualifications.
The next President should have VISION. He should have a clear picture of where he wants to bring our country. There should already be a concrete and complete plan in realizing it, not empty offers to supposedly consult our people first or the usual answer that a committee will still be created.
The next President should have EXPERIENCE. He should have the necessary skills and stomach to lead our distracted and divided nation. This should have been brought about by actual events in his career that contributed to the molding and shaping of his character and values, not just catch phrases and tag lines created by the media or by some advertising company.
The next President should have TRACK RECORD. He should possess a set of accomplishments and achievements that will prove to the people that he is capable and competent to become President, not because he brings potentials and promises for the future, but because his past performance shows that he can do the job and he will do the job.
The above three standards or qualifications are the most basic requirements for a candidate to be best at, if we are to be serious in selecting the next leader of our country, and if we are to be sincere in being a part of helping uplift the lives of our people.
There are other criteria and considerations, of course. We all have our own personal preferences and parochial concerns, even. But while there may be differences in our private wants, our public needs will always remain the same.
So, given these items, we should already begin scrutinizing the whole life of those who will probably run in 2010. This entails checking each and every position that they have held in government and how they fared or failed. This also necessitates a look into what they have done beyond or besides their official designations.
We know who they are, no matter how much some of them politely decline soft insinuations or flatly deny straight questions.
Even if they do not run eventually, it does not hurt to have already reviewed and studied them.
It is always better to be ready than to be caught unprepared. After all, it is our own future that is at stake.
For this future, we have to work actively to chart our own destiny rather than just wait passively while others decide our fate for us. For this future, we have to be an active participant rather than just be a mere spectator.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Arroyo, Legarda share laugh over 2010 presidency
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
Last updated 06:46pm (Mla time) 08/10/2007
Arroyo was guest of honor. Legarda, an NDCC alumna, was to receive an award.
When Legarda, clad in a cream pantsuit, went onstage to receive her award, she said Arroyo bussed her and then asked: "Loren, did you hear the he or she?"
Legarda replied: "Yes, Madam President."
Arroyo, said Legarda, told her: "The he or she was meant for you."
The President was referring to a portion of her July 23 State of the Nation Address when, during her lengthy enumeration of the various infrastructure projects the administration is undertaking, she said whoever succeeded her in 2010, "he or she will have an easier time of it."
"I said, ‘No, when you said he or she, I looked at [Senator Manuel] Mar [Roxas II] and [Senator Richard] Dick Gordon," Legarda said.
But while playing coy about her presidential ambition, Legarda had earlier said she felt alluded to by the "she" in Arroyo’s reference to her possible successor.
"Did they think the President could have referred to any other woman contender?" Legarda said in an earlier report.
They forget about Dick Gordon
By Ramon Tulfo
Last updated 02:23am (Mla time) 08/09/2007
Sen. Loren Legarda, the topnotcher in the recent senatorial election; Senate President Manuel Villar; and Sen. Mar Roxas, also a topnotcher in the 2004 senatorial election, are presidential wannabes.
Then there is Vice President Noli de Castro, a breath away from the presidency.
Of course, there’s Sen. Panfilo Lacson who’s salivating over the country’s highest post even after being trounced in the 2004 presidential election.
But we forget one guy who’s also very much qualified—in fact, even more qualified than the others—to become President: Sen. Richard Gordon.
Gordon not only has the credentials for the highest position of the land, he’s also emotionally capable.
He was mayor of Olongapo City that became a very clean and orderly city; a member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention; chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA); and secretary of tourism.
But it was at the SBMA where Gordon’s star shone brightly. He showed that Filipinos were capable of discipline when drivers plying the former US naval base followed traffic rules and visitors kept the premises clean and crime-free.
During his time, the Subic Freeport became one of Asia’s busiest business and economic hubs.
Multinational companies made Subic Freeport their headquarters in Southeast Asia because of Dick Gordon.
A strict boss, Gordon is also a very altruistic guy.
His Olongapo City rescue team was the first at the scene of a building that collapsed in Cabanatuan City during the 1990 earthquake.
Gordon’s rescue team at the SBMA was also the first to undertake recovery operations at the pagoda tragedy in Bocaue, Bulacan, in 1993.
While campaigning for the Senate in the 2004 elections, Gordon chanced upon a burning market in a town in Nueva Ecija. Noticing that firemen and the police were at a loss putting out the fire, Dick took charge of the firefighting.
Right now, Dick is putting his altruism in action by being chair of the Philippine National Red Cross. The Red Cross is at the forefront of helping disaster victims. Now, tell me, who among the presidential aspirants can beat Dick in experience and action?
Statement of Senator Richard Gordon on Presidential Aspirations
Lest I be accused of starting the 2010 presidential campaign this early, I want to clarify what I said in my interview over dzBB last Sunday and which the Philippine Star, Malaya, Daily Tribune and Abante quite alertly reported on in its issue today.
I made no declaration about my candidacy in 2010; I only responded to questions fielded to me about the possibility of my running for the highest office within the gift of our people.
I said I would be lying if I did not admit to being interested in the office. I have heard for years the appeals of many who were urging me to run, and their whispers have been louder of late.
I fully respect the decisions of others who have already announced or hinted at their running for the Presidency. I wish them well.
With respect to party alignments, there are some whose strategy is to anchor their bids on the revival of the old political parties. In my case, if and when I run for President, I will look not to the past but to the future.
I will try to mold a popular party coalition for national modernization and renewal from the many new parties that have emerged over the past decade. I want to address the hopes of all those who want to make the Philippines a better place and a more progressive nation.
But that said, I want to emphasize that my priorities now are my work in the Senate, the Philippine Red Cross, and the various advocacies that I support. In the Senate, many issues and problems of great national import await the deliberation and decision of our senators. I too feel the weight of this responsibility, and I will put the greater part of my time to filling it. All talk about the future must yield to the needs of the present.
Gordon starts 2010 presidential derby early
By Christina Mendez
Monday, August 6, 2007
Sen. Richard Gordon revealed plans yesterday to cast his lot in the 2010 presidential derby with Senators Manuel Villar Jr. and Manuel Roxas II.
Apparently irked by the maneuvering of the Liberal and the Nacionalista parties where Roxas and Villar respectively belong, Gordon said that he too has trained his sights to replace President Arroyo three years from now.
Gordon gave a straight answer when asked in an interview over dzBB radio yesterday if he plans to run for president.
“Well, I am available,” he said, adding that he would be lying if he didn’t admit the presidency was on his mind. Many have asked him to run in the past three presidential elections, he said.
Gordon said he is planning to form a new political party that aims to push for the interest of the Filipinos, and to run on a platform that is pro-people.
He revealed that several groups have been egging him to run for president since 1992 but he had to reconsider his options.
In 1992, he saw the need to help his provincemates in Olongapo who were displaced by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, while his presidential plans were also stalled in 1998 and 2004.
Those times were too hectic, he said. “Maybe in 2010. Most probably,” Gordon served as mayor of Olongapo City and later became chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Before he became senator, he was also appointed as secretary of the Department of Tourism.
Asked if those with strong party support would have advantage over him who has yet to have a party machinery, Gordon noted that political parties in the country have no specific platforms unlike the Republicans and Democrats in the United States.
“What I am saying is that the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party, at the moment, both have nothing to offer the country. They have nothing to offer — never had anything to offer in the past,” Gordon said. “They have nothing, except for personality.”
Asked for comment, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said: “Nobody is counting out Gordon in 2010. All who are qualified to run have the right to dream of being president.”
Sen. Francis Escudero, who claims he does not consider himself as presidential timber yet for 2010, said he respects Gordon’s decision.
Of the 23-member Senate in the 14th Congress, the other presidential wannabes are Senators Loren Legarda and Jamby Madrigal.