Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ibang Klaseng Opensiba ni Sen. Gordon

Column of ENGR. Nelson P. Ramirez for Pinoy Shimbun.
The widely read Filipino Newspaper in Japan.


Ibang Klaseng Opensiba ni Sen. Gordon


Habang nakipagbakbakan ang ating mga magigiting na sundalo sa mga teroristang Abu Sayyaf sa Mindanao, ibang klaseng opensiba naman ang ginawa ni Senador Richard Gordon nang pumunta siya sa Jolo. Dinala niya ang medical team ng Philippine Red Cross upang magsagawa ng medical mission sa ating mga kababayang Muslim na napinsala dahil sa mga kaguluhang nagaganap sa kanilang kapaligiran kahit hindi naman sila direktang kasali roon.

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Marami sa ating mga kababayang Muslim ang nagkakasakit at namatay na hindi man lang nakakita ng doktor dahil sa malayo sila sa kabihasnan at dahil na rin kahirapan. ‘Yan ang isa sa mga dahilan na nagtutulak ng marami sa kanila na sumama sa mga masasamang elemento at maghasik ng kasamaan sa gawing katimugan ng Mindanao dahil sa pakiramdam nila ay napabayaan na sila ng ating pamahalaan.

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Si Sen. Gordon ay naniniwala na ang labanan sa Mindanao ay matatapos sa pamamagitan ng palitan ng bala sa pagitan ng ating mga sundalo at rebelde. Sa ating kasaysayan, tanging ang Jolo lamang ang hindi nalupig ng mga dayuhan. Hindi nagtagumpay ang Kastila at Hapon sa kanilang pananakop.

Kaya sa pagpunta ng butihing Senador doon kamakailan, dala niya ang mga doctors at nurses at dala din niya ang isang C-130 airplane na ginagamit ng Armed Forces of the Philippines upang magdala ng medesina at sa pagbalik naman ng nasabing eroplano sa Manila ay may lulan na itong mga ibat-ibang prutas at produkto ng Jolo upang maibenta sa mataas na halaga at maging dagdag kabuhayan para sa nasabing lugar.

Tinawag ni Gordon na “Fruits of Hope” ang kanyang programa na umani nang maraming mga papuri sa maraming kababayan nating Muslim, partikular sa katimugang Bahagi ng Mindanao. Naniniwala si Gordon na ang mga prutas mula sa Jolo at Sulu ang siyang magiging harbingers of peace sa pagitan ng mga sundalong militar at rebeldeng Muslim.

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Ang isla ng Jolo ay sagad sa biyaya ng kalikasan. Ang mga prutas na kagaya ng mangosteen, durian, lanzones, marang, dalanghita ay tumutubo lang na ligaw kahit saan. Mayaman din ang Jolo sa lamang-dagat ngunit hindi nila naibebenta ang kanilang mga produkto sa tamang halaga dahil sa kakulangan sa transportasyon. Naibebenta lang nila ng medyo maganda-gandang presyo kung ito ay madadala nila sa Zamboanga, kaya kadalasan nabubulok na lang ang kanilang mga paninda. Alam ko ito dahil isinilang at lumaki ako sa Mindanao at tumira ako sa Jolo at Basilan.

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Kamakailan lamang umani ng papuri si Sen. Gordon nang nagbigay siya ng isang privilege speech sa Senado upang ipagtanggol ang ating mga marino na pinagsamantalahan ng mga ganid na may-ari ng maritime training centers na kakuntsaba ng mga tiwaling opisyal ng pamahalaan. Ibinulgar ni Gordon ang mga katiwalian sa industriya maritima at pamumunuan niya ang isang malawakang imbestigasyon upang masugpo ang mga anomalya na nagaganap sa nasabing industriya. Si Gordon na ngayon ang tinuturing na bayani ng mga marino.

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Ibang klase talaga si Sen. Gordon. Nauuna siyang dumating sa lugar kung saan may sakuna at kalamidad. Nung nagkaroon ng malawakang pagyanig sa bansa noong 1990, isa siya sa pinakaunang opisyal ng bansa bilang opisyal ng Philippine National Red Cross na sumuporta para sa gumuhong paaralan sa Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. Pagkatapos, tumuloy din siya agad sa Baguio City upang tumulong rin sa pagsalba sa mga nasawi at survivors ng isang gumuhong hotel sa lugar bunga ng malakas na pagyanig.

Nung pumutok ang Mt. Pinatubo sa Zambales noong 1991, si Senador Gordon ang namuno para iligtas ang daan-dang mga Aetas na naninirahan sa paanan ng nasabing bulkan. Kasalukuyan pa lang siyang mayor noon ng Olongapo City pero lumabas siya sa kanyang teritoryo para manguna sa pagtulong ng kanyang mga kababayang Aetas.

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Nung nagkaroon ng malawakang baha sa Olongapo City noong 1994 kung saan si Senador Gordon ay Chairman na ng Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, pinangunahan niya rin ang pagliligtas ng ilang daang pamilya na sinalanta ng malaking baha dahil hindi na kayang abutan ng anumang rescue teams na manggagaling pa sa Manila. Kung wala siya sa panahong iyon, ay malamang marami ang nangasawi sa trahedyang iyon.

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Sa naganap na Ormoc tragedy nung late 90s, nandun din sa Senador Gordon upang manguna sa relief and rescue operations. Nandun rin siya para manguna sa rescue and relief operations sa nangyaring landslide sa St. Bernard sa Guinsaugon, Southern Leyte. Nang pumutok ang SARS epidemic sa bansa, nanguna rin si Sen. Gordon para tumulong sa pag-apula ng endemya sa bansa. Basta may sakuna, siguradong naroon ang ating butihing Senador kaya hindi na nakakapagtaka na makita siya sa Jolo upang magsagawa ng relief operations at magbigay ng masiglang pag-asa na puwede pang makamit ang pangmalawakang kapayapaan sa katimugang bahagi ng Mindanao.

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Ang katangiang ito ang nagdala kay Senador Richard Gordon para tanghaling Chairman ng Philippine National Red Cross. Bilang pinuno ng Red Cross, siya ang nagdala sa Pilipinas ng pinakaunang state-of-the-art Red Cross mobile rescue and ambulance truck na ngayon ay nagagamit na ng organisayon para agad rumesponde sa mga sakuna sa anumang bahagi ng bansa. May ilang beses na rin niyang binigyan ng karangalan ang bansa bilang pinuno ng Red Cross sa international front.

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Talaga namang hinding-hindi matatawaran ang puso ni Sen. Gordon sa oras ng pagtulong sa kanyang kapwa. Bukod pa doon ay kilalang-kilala na ang kanyang leadership qualities na ilang beses niya na ring ipinamalas sa buong bansa. Sino ba ang makakalimot sa ginawa niyang pagbabago sa Olongapo City noong siya ang maging alkalde nito nang may ilang taon? Kung dati, kilala lang ang Olongapo bilang lugar ng mga taong mahilig magsabi ng ‘Hey Joe,’ naging isang progresibong siyudad ito sa ilalim ni Sen. Gordon. Mas naging batikan ang kasabihang “Bawal ang Tamad sa Olongapo,” sampu ng iba pang mga slogans na ngayon ay pinapamarisan na ng maraming komunidad sa bansa maging ng Metro Manila

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Sino rin ang makakalimot sa ginawang pagbabago ni Sen. Gordon sa Subic Bay Freeport nung umupo siya bilang pinakaunang Chairman ng Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority? Nung iniwan ng mga Amerikano ang Subic naval base, may ilan ang nagduda na mahihirapang ayusin agad ang lugar dahil nga sa kakulangan ng tamang imprastraktura at ang mga naiwan ay halos pinaglumaan na ng mga Kano. Pero ilang taon lang ang nagdaan sa ilalim nang pamununo ni Sen. Gordon at nakilala na ang SBMA bilang pinaka-progresibong export zone ng bansa. Si Sen. Gordon ang nagbigay ng buhay sa Subic at naglagay dito sa international economic map at ang mga humalili sa kanya ay ipinagpatuloy na lang ang kanyang magandang simulain.

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Kailan ba naging popular ang ‘Wow Philippines?’ Hindi ba nang umupo si Sen. Gordon bilang kalihim ng Department of Tourism. Ang laking pagbabago ang naganap sa mga tourist attractions ng bansa nang maging DOT Secretary si Sen. Gordon. Nagkaroon ng nawawalang sustansiya ang turismo ng bansa nang siya’y maging pinuno ng departamento. Sa ilalim ng programang “Wow Philippines” nabuhay muli ang halos nakalimutan ng tourist spot na kagaya ng Intramuros, na pinamugaran na ng maraming mga squatters.

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Ang laki ng itinaas ng turismo ng bansa dahil sa programa ni Sen. Gordon. Sa termino niya rin bilang DOT Secretary lumabas ang advertisement ng Pilipinas sa international news network na CNN na talaga namang nagdala ng milyong mga dayuhang turista sa bansa na ngayon ay tinatamasa na ng bansa.

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Ang mga accomplishments ni Sen. Gordon ay sadya namang hindi matatawaran ng maski sino mang mga kinikilalang lider ng bansa sa kasalukuyan. Siya lang ang may sapat na karanasan, kakayahan, katalinuhan at kabutihing-loob na puwedeng magbigay ng mas maaliwalas na buhay para sa mga Pilipino lalo’t marami ang nagtutulak sa kanya, kasama na ang inyong abang lingkod, para tumakbo bilang susunod na Pangulo ng bansa sa darating na 2010.

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Hindi na kailangan pang magsalita ni Sen. Gordon dahil nakita na ng buong mamamayang Pilipino ang kanyang husay at talino bilang isang lingkod-publiko. Iyan ang tatak ng isang opisyal na karapat-dapat maging Pangulo ng ating bansa.

Friday, September 28, 2007

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH SENATOR DICK GORDON
27 September 2007

ON SHOUTING INCIDENT AT GOCC HEARING[COA Chairman Guillermo Carague]

GORDON : Biglang-bigla yung incident. Biglang pumutok, biglang nawala.
Ang ganda-ganda ng hearing. It is a hearing about oversight na matutulungan nga ang COA and then I think he (COA Chairman Guillermo Carague) was having a bad day, mali siguro ang gising, bigla na lang nagsisigaw doon, medyo nagmura pa pero hindi ko na pinatulan. Nang umalis na siya ang sabi ko sa kanya "No you can not leave" then I told him "I will put you in contempt". Lumabas siya kaya pinahuli ko siya tapos bumalik siya then he apologized. Ang sabi "I'm sorry" and he said "Hindi tama yung ginawa ko". Sabi pa niya "Dick I really am sorry, I don't know what happened to me and I apologize". Ang sabi ko walang problema d'yan. Nasa record naman yun.

Q. Tungkol sa budget ang problema?

Gordon: Ang problema lang talaga, ang COA ay kulang nga sa tao kaya napag-usapan yun sa ARMM. Halimbawa nga yung namatay na taga-COA doon-- apat na tao na raw ang namamatay. Ang sabi ko ibigay mo sa akin at iimbestigahan natin. Hindi naman namin tinutugis ang COA. Ang akala niya tinutugis, pero hindi naman naming tinutugis. Tinutulungan panga namin. Kaso ang nangyari ay nagsisigaw na siya doon. Nagulat ang lahat and I think he as been overly defensive about COA because ang pinag-uusapan nga doon ay yung oversight sa government corporations. Pinapaliwanag ko lang kung ano ang dapat gawin sa government corporation para mawala yung mga abusado at katulong naming ang COA. Pero ang parang ang take niya doon ay parang naki-critize yung COA and then biglang tumaas ang kanyang boses, tumayo at magwa-walk-out na. He was calling the Senate all kinds of names. What happened to him, I don't know. Even his people were apologetic and everybody in the committee ay nagulat din.

ON ZTE AND ABALOS IMPEACHMENT

Gordon: Yung kontrata ay talagang dapat ibasura sapagkat tainted na yung kontrata dahil may sumigaw na may nag-o-offer ng pera. To my mind this contract should not even be suspended, dapat ito ibasura na itong kontrata sapagkat punong-puno ito ng butas.

This contract is poisoned all together. It is toxic already.

Q. Sir do you have more than enough to recommend the prosecution of….?

Gordon: I think I have enough to show circumstantial evidence that Ablos is out of line. Si Abalos ang dapat na pag-usapan natin. Sa palagay ko mayroon tayong supisyenteng rason (suffiecient reason). Sa akin hindi a-admit si Abalos so saan natin siya hinuli? Hinuli natin siya sa circumstantial evidence. Ang tanong ko sa kanya, "Sunod-sunod na buwan nasa China ka na dapat ang trabaho mo ay sa Comelec. At that time na yan rin sunod-sunod na nini-negotiate yung ZTE. Pangalawa, dalawang kaibigan niya ang nagsasabi, sabi pa niya family friend—si Joey de Venecia. Sinasabing niya na tumanggap ka ng $10M at humihingi pa ng karagdagan. Bakit hindi niya sinumbong sa tatay niya (Speaker de Venecia) Ang sabi niya naaawa daw siya sa doon sa matanda. Pangalawa, inaakusahan siya ni Neri na nag-o-offer siya ng 200. Samakatuwid may pattern.

Halatang-halata na talagang may nangyayaring hindi maganda because bakit pupunta ang Chairman ng Comelec buwan-buwan sa isang bansa na nag-o-offer sa atin at bakit yung ino-offer na yun ay ang hinahabol ni de Venecia na siyang nag-ooffer ng $10M. Mahirap ipaliwanag yun. Sinasabi mo nag-golf ka, paano ka naggo-golf eh Comelec ka at bilang opisyal ng gobyerno hindi ka dapat tumanggap ng libreng palaro o tiket sa larong yan. Sa nangyayari ngayon, wala na itong ZTE na ito. Hindi na pupwede yan at panahon na para habulin na ang mga taong iyan.



Q. Sir, malinaw na Abalos can be impeached?

Gordon: Yes. He can be impeached.

Q. What ground?

Gordon: Yang mga allegation ng bribery. Even to offer a bribe is already punishable under the anti-graft law. And you don't need guilt beyond reasonable doubt in an impeachment case.

Q. So, if the impeachment reaches the Senate you will vote for his impeachment?

Gordon: So right it will appear to be kaya nga kung ito ay darating sa impeachment I would have to be the Judge kapag umabot dito so I will hold judgment. Ang tinanong ninyo sa akin kung may kaso ba? May kaso. And he has to prove his innocence. Para sa akin mabigat yun, kapag nag-offer ka sa isang taong katulad ni Neri, ibig sabihin nag-offer ka rin sa iba. May inoperan pang iba.

Q. Yung taong inoperan may kaso?

Gordon: Hindi naman tumanggap. Pag tumanggap yun, both the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker are liable. Kaya nga sinasabi dito the bribe-offerer has already committed a crime. Crime na yung pag-offer na yun.

Q. Sir, si PGMA hindi ba siya accountable dahil lumalabas na alam niya yung bribery?

Gordon: The Comelec is a constitutional body. Sinumbong sa kanya(GMA) ni Neri na may ganoong pangyayari. Dapat ang ginawa niya is to write a formal letter to the Comelec and say, "Bakit ka nag-o-offer ng ganyan?" Kung ako yun, ganoon ang gagawin ko. All my life, as an executive, kapag may nagsumbong sa mga tauhan ko o sa mga tao ng gobyerno, tatawagin ko yan at ihaharap ko yung nagsusumbong lalo na kung miyembro ng political family ko yan.

Q. Sir, kung bigla bang magresign si Abalos pwede pa rin siyang habulin?

Gordon: Yes. You are liable for all your acts as a public official.

Q. Sir, sa tingin ninyo si Abalos ay walang balak mag-resign?

Gordon: Hindi magre-resign yan.

Q. Kapalmuks talaga?

Gordon: Hindi dahil doon. Dahil abugado siya akala niya makakalusot siya eh. Sa impeachment malakas na yan. Maybe sa criminal kulang pa pero sa impeachment, malakas na malakas na yan.
Alam nyo hindi masa-satisfy ang publiko kung walang babagsak dito. Hindi na pwedeng itago ito. The genie is out of the bottle. Masyadong maraming beses binanggit si Abalos. Nagbiyahe buwan-buwan. Paano itatago sa House yan. Bakit ka sinasabihan ni Neri at de Venecia na nagbibigay ka. At hindi naman niya aaminin na ginawa niya yan.

Q. Kailangang managot pa rin?

Gordon: Yes. Kailangang managot. Ako kahit si Erap, pardon cannot be issued against him. Hindi pa tapos ang proseso. Tapusin muna natin.



ON NERI EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE

Q. Sir yung kay Neri should he be cited by the Senate for contempt for citing executive privilege?

Gordon: Yung executive privilege na sinasabi ni Neri only holds in so far as question hour. This was not the question hour. Ngayon kung executive privilege ang –isa-cite niya, it is not valid. Walang national security considerations. Walang problema doon sa government relations with another country. Wala tayong mahalagang bagay na hindi ilalabas muna sapagkat may negotiations. So he cannot invoke executive privilege. That is why the Chair, Cayetano should not have allowed him to invoke executive privilege.

Q. So nagkamali siya?

Gordon: Yes. Mali siya doon.

Q. So you will compel him to answer (Neri)?

Gordon: He has to answer. In fairness to Sec. Neri, remember by saying this, he is endangering his family. Malaking problema yan. Dapat nga mahalin natin si Neri. There are two events that have happened here. Una, nakulong ang isang presidente. Pangalawa may cabinet member na nagsabing bina-bribe siya. Iyan ang sinabi ko sa aking talumpati na bubugso ang maraming complaint laban sa mga high officials of the government dahil sa conviction ni Erap.

Q. May rekomendasyon si Sen Mirrian na i-refer na lang sa Ombudsman itong NBN?

Gordon: Alam mo kung talagang tutuusin, tungkulin ng Ombudsman pero ang Ombudsman ay medyo mahihirapan. Kung iri-refer mo ito sa Ombudsman ayun maraming mananagot dyan. Si Joe De Venecia, si Abalos. Kapag ni-refer mo naman ito sa impeachment, you don't need guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Boto lang ng Congressman ang kailangan diyan at madali na yan.

Q. Papasa kaya yun sa House?

Gordon: Bakit naman hindi. Again these are times where we test character. Itong mga panahon na ito, this will be a test of character for the members of the Lower House and the Senate. Masama ba sa character ko kung tatahimik ako kahit mali na ang ginagawa ng isang testigo? I think mali 'yun. Hindi naman ako nagtatanong para maging popular sa tao. Kailangan magtanong ng tama. Out of character ba sakin na nag-waive yung isa at ako ay hindi nag-waive, hindi mo ako pagsasalitain?


Q. Sir, yung nangyari sa inyo ni Sen. Cayetano..?

Gordon: Maganda yung usapan namin, tinatanong ko siya kase naliligaw tayo. Siyempre pagnaka-TV maraming nagpi-play on TV. Binabalik ko lang to what the hearing is all about. Sinabi ko at inulit ko yan. I know that tinatanong ko lang siya, parang advise sa kanyang indirectly na don't lose sight of the meeting. Gusto nating malaman ng tao kung appropriate itong contract na ito, if this contract follows the law, if there were violations of the contract or may mga kalokohang ginawa yung mga nagnenegotiate ng kontrata.

This contract ay kinuha lang dahil pinapautang tayo ng mababang interest pero ang kanilang kompanya ang kanilang payayamanin. Hindi kailangan ng gobyerno at tao ang kontratang ito. Ang dapat unahin natin ay, ipagawa natin ang PGH, bawat region dapat may PGH. Dapat umutang tayo para magkaroon ng computer ang bawat eskuwela at ma-computerize yung election. Dapat ayusin ang education natin. Yun ang dapat pwede natin utangin.

Kung inoperan (offer) si Joey de Venecia, Sec. Neri therefore inoperan din yung iba. Kung sino ang mga iyon hindi ko alam and that is why kailangang ibasura na itong kontratang ito.


Q. Nothing personal dito kasi second time na kayong nagbanggaan ni Cayetano?

Gordon: Ang problema kasi, yung Rules ng Senate malinaw. Katulad kahapon tuloy-tuloy ang hearing. Ang gagawin nila noong isang araw ay they are in effect going to violate the rules. The rules says at 3 o'clock we call all committees stop at ang mauuna ay yung legislative meeting lang, may session na. Ang nangyari ititigil yung hearing pagkatapos itutuloy ang session tapos isu-suspend uli yung session. Pinapakita at pinapaliwanag ko yung rules pero ayaw niyang makinig.

Kahapon, nang magtatanong na ako sasabihin ni Sen Pimentel "Ako muna," ang sabi ko, "Sige". I always give way. Papasok si Sen Pangilinan, sige I will give way. Pero kung panahon ko naman at magtatanong ako, wag mo akong iba-bind doon sa waiver ni Sen. Enrile. Kung nag-waive sila, that is their privilege. I have not waived. I was not going to waive, the question that I wanted to ask I think was very, very important.

The Chairman had no right to assume that I had waived my right. Kaya kami nagkaroon ng banggaan kagabi. Wag ninyong masamain iyon sapagkat yun ay part of the rules. Kailangan kapag nag-imbestiga tayo, yung rules natin ay sinusunod natin. Sapagkat kung wala nang rules ay talagang magulo. Kaya pinagsabihan ko. Seguro hindi ka nga nag-chair dati, hindi mo binabasa yung rules, I'm sorry I had to say that because medyo sinabi niya na "I was quibbling". I'm not quibbling. We live here by the rules.

END
Excerpt from
Don’t demonize China naman
DEMAND AND SUPPLY
By BOO CHANCO

I was going through the transcript of the ZTE hearings and I am glad that Sen. Dick Gordon voiced the view I expressed here that the NBN should not be a high priority in the use of government funds because there are private sector alternatives. Perhaps, China can see this too and agree to divert the money it was willing to lend us for NBN to such projects such as modernizing our public hospitals.

Here are Sen. Gordon’s views expressed during the hearing.

“With that kind of money, $329 million, Php 15 billion, is that really a priority or is it really donor driven? Nagpahiram ang China… may pera kami rito, ha? Kahit na hindi n’yo kailangan umutang na kayo para makuha natin … Saying, pinapahiram tayo eh. Mababa ang interest. Pero hindi naman kailangan ng gobyerno right away.

“Hindi n’yo ba puwedeng sabihin sa China, “O pautangin n’yo na lang kami dadalhin namin sa eskwela. Lalagyan namin ng computers yung eskwela para masanay lahat yung tao para pagdating ng araw pag dumating ang broadband madali nang magawa iyon.

“O di naman kaya pautangin n’yo kami paayos natin yung PGH. Paayos natin yung Orthopedic Hospital. Lalagyan natin ng mga regional hospitals. Di ba dapat yun ang ginagawa natin? Or is it really a priority na broadband samantalang may Smart, may Globe… Bakit hindi natin gamitin yun muna para maunahan yung pera ng gobyerno para ma-prioritize ang talagang pangangailngan ng tao? Hindi ba natin pinaguusapan iyon?”

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ledesma: Gordon and his fruits for life

Ledesma: Gordon and his fruits for life
By Jun Ledesma
Sunbursts

WHILE his colleagues are making "pogi" points and posing on TV over the ZTE scam and "Hello Garci" scandal, Dick Gordon was personally busy arranging how to bring the bumper crops of fruits from Sulu and Cotabato.

Despite these hectic crusade, Gordon is always present in the Senate as if he was not somewhere in the nooks of Jolo and in the hinterlands of North Cotabato. I will not even be surprised if he is using the same denim pants he was wearing in his trips to Jolo and Kidapawan underneath his suit.

Gordon makes no fuss about his being in these remote areas, touching base with provincial, municipal, and barangay officials and also with farmers and fishermen.

Last month, prior to his trip to Jolo, I had the opportunity to talk to the senator along with Sun Star publisher, Tony Ajero. Over mangosteens and rambutans served to us by artist Kublai and his father Ray Millan, we talked about the birds and the bees.

Nothing about politics actually. He told us about his plan of going to Jolo in relations to his being chairman of PNRC. Then, he made mention about his idea of using the Philippine Navy ships to ferry whatever the farmers and fishermen in Sulu can produce. He recalled that in Jolo, the markets were teeming with mangosteen and were selling so cheap. He said that if the fruits were to be sold in Metro Manila the price is 80 times more than the prices in Jolo market.
I told my own personal story to the senator. I said that there was a time when I was into rose production and buying and selling of roses. The rose farmers in Calinan had no market then except Bankerohan and Agdao. I bought their flowers three times the price of their local buyers and then I sell these in Manila.

Even with the cost of air freight, I still make handsome profit. "Exactly," says Gordon. "Mangosteen, which sells in Jolo market at 5 to 10 pesos per kilo will easily sell at the price range of P80 to P100," he said. "That is what we are going to do in Jolo and here in Davao," he said.

The next time I heard of Gordon less than a week after is that he was in Jolo with a PAF C-130. Two days after that event, I received a surprise call from Senator Gordon. That was about 6:30 in the morning. I thought somebody was pulling my leg pretending that he was Senator Dick. But his tempo and the jubilant voice in the other end was unmistakably Senator Gordon.

Says he, "Jun, report ko lang sa iyo. Yong first plane load natin na fruits from Jolo were gobbled up by our buyers as soon as we unloaded them. In less than two hours, the whole planeload was sold out." Then he added, "I will be arriving in Davao this morning to inaugurate the PNRC building in Davao City. After which I will motor to Kidapawan to arrange for the shipment of their fruits to Manila. I hope to see you."

I saw him that morning and he profusely thanked us for whatever. After the inauguration of PNRC in Davao which he later announced will be the training center of Red Cross volunteers in the Philippines, he proceeded to give awards to business and community leaders, Mayor Rody Duterte and the City of Davao for their support in the construction of the PNRC building here.

Then he excused himself, disappeared obviously to change outfit and scooted to Kidapawan.

In less than a week Senator Gordon is back with C-130 to haul the fruits from Pinol's country. If you think he cannot make time for his duty in the senate, you can wonder. Because he never missed a session.

Yet, Senator Gordon does not make pitches about Estrada's conviction, pardon or amnesty. Maybe his political constituency in Luzon and Visayas are surprised. I am not for I know that what preoccupies the mind of Gordon even as he sits there in important committees, is how to bring the bumper crops in areas of conflict in Mindanao to the markets in Metro Manila.

"Fruits of Hope." "Fruits for Peace." Next time around Gordon will transform the pristine islands of Sulu and Tawi-tawi into prime tourism destinations. Funny? Impossible? Well, I believe Dick "flash" Gordon can.

North Cotabato hails “Fruits of Hope” program

North Cotabato hails “Fruits of Hope” program

Philippine National Red Cross Chairman (PNRC) and CEO, Senator Richard J. Gordon, arrived at the Villamor Airbase on Tuesday from Davao City on board a C-130 laden with 13.5 tons of assorted fresh fruits from North Cotabato and a cargo-hold of fresh hope for lasting peace in Mindanao.

This was the second humanitary mission conducted under the ‘Fruits of Hope’ program led by Gordon as PNRC Chairman and is jointly supported by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Asia America Initiative, and the Philippine Air Force together with Rustan’s, SM, and Nestle Nescafe Corporation. The ‘Fruits of Hope’ program is a joint peace building initiative which aims to link producers of various agricultural crops from Sulu, Basilan, North Cotabato, and other areas in Mindanao to markets in Metro Manila and help them get a better price for their goods, thereby assuring them of better profits.

Gordon, along with North Cotabato Governor Susing Sacdalan, North Cotabato Vice Gov. Manny Pinol and representatives of the North Cotabato Fruit Growers Association were met at Villamor Airbase by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon, and other government officials.

The President congratulated Gordon and the leaders of North Cotabato for their efforts in alleviating the plight of fruit farmers in North Cotabato.

At a press conference in Davao City prior to their departure for Manila, North Cotabato Governor Sacdalan and Vice Governor Pinol lauded the efforts of Senator Gordon for supporting North Cotabato’s bid for peace and development. They likewise voiced their support for the ‘Fruits of Hope’ program, saying that they looked forward to making giant strides together with Senator Gordon as well as the program’s partners towards achieving just and lasting peace in Mindanao.

“The essence of the ‘Fruits of Hope’ program is not only that it brings livelihood to thousands farmers and farm workers struck down by the blights of conflict, but it is opening peoples’ minds to the fact that Sulu, Basilan, North Cotabato and other areas in Mindanao are vast peaceful areas with intermittent outbreaks of conflict in remote and isolated areas. By opening minds, as well as hearts, we will do more towards persuading our countrymen and even the global community to invest in development for these areas – in short, to invest in peace,” said Gordon.
The Fruits of Peace program, since its first mission two weeks ago in Sulu, has gained more support from corporations and Metro Manila based cooperatives.
The future partners of the ‘Fruits of Hope’ program include NAMVESCO (National Market Vendors Association of the Philippines), Negros Navigation, Sulpicio Lines, Vintel Logistics, Bagumbayan Movement Committee on Livelihood and Productivity.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Of men and poems

A Nation's Strength

What makes a nation's pillars high

And it's foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fruits of Hope links Sulu and Metro Manila

“Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order - in short, of government.” -- attributed to Albert Einstein


“Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.” -- attributed to Baruch Spinoza


These quotes ring true especially for Senator Richard J. Gordon as he pursues multi-pronged and multi-faceted initiatives to bring development to Sulu, Basilan, and other parts of Mindanao that have been labeled as war zones. He aims to bring development, not as a reward, but as a vital pre-requisite to achieving peace in these provinces.

The Fruits of Hope project is just one example of how real daring and compassion can help transform life in an underdeveloped province. There is a greater degree of respect, understanding, and compassion at work in Sulu when its farmers and fishermen are given help in finding better prices for their produce instead of being given two plastic bags of canned goods and rice. Suddenly, they are victims no more and they re-discover the power to make real, positive changes in their lives.

So, if you have a craving for fruit and want to bring about peace in Sulu, Basilan, and other place in Mindanao, all you have to do is go to the nearest SM Supermarket or Shopwise and strongly insist on buying fruits sourced from the provinces mentioned above. You'll be doing your country and your health a lot of good.

If you want to know more about the Fruits of Hope, read on:

“Fruits of Hope” Links Sulu and Metro Manila

Philippine National Red Cross Chairman and Senator Richard J. Gordon has fulfilled his promise to connect Sulu to the markets of Metro Manila.

Gordon arrived Monday morning on board a Philippine Air Force C-130 plane at the Sulu Airport with a delegation of representatives from SM Supermarket, Shopwise and Nescafe to pick up some 5,000 kilos of lanzones, mangosteen, durian and other assorted agricultural products from Sulu.

SM Supermarket, represented by its administration manager Rey Decillo, and Shopwise, represented by its Fresh Division assistant manager Antonio Quintin G. Valdez Jr., have agreed to buy and sell the initial batch of fruits from Sulu. Nescafe, represented by Agriservices Department AVP Joel Lumagbas, has signified its intent to look into sourcing its coffee beans from Sulu.

The shipment of fruits from Sulu is an undertaking through a joint project called "Fruits of Hope" – named as such because it embodies the hopes of varied groups and sectors for peace and prosperity in Mindanao and Sulu. It is a joint initiative of the Philippine National Red Cross, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Provincial Government of Sulu, the Asia America Initiative, the Philippine Air Force, Rustan's, SM Supermarket, Robinsons Corporation, Nestle, and Shopwise.

Gordon said that Fruits of Hope will initially tap the products of Sulu, Basilan and Cotabato. But eventually it will cover all areas of Mindanao that can benefit from direct links to the markets of Metro Manila.

The senator said the project will also connect the fruit producers of Sulu to palengkes and market vendors in the metropolis. The PNRC plans to put up a P1-million fund to bankroll the project as this will enable the country's hardworking vendors in Manila to help the equally hardworking fruit producers in Sulu.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan lauded Gordon and the Fruits of Hope project, calling on the people of Sulu to support the project. He said that because of the government's all-out offensive against the Abu Sayyaf Sulu was in danger of sinking to its lowest point once again. But they were fortunate to have found an ally in Senator Gordon, who visited the province and found that far from being a war zone, Sulu was quite productive and peaceful.

"With your help as well as the help of the military and the private sector, we believe that the people of Sulu can turn calamity into opportunity," Governor Tan told the senator.

Gordon, in response, said that it was the people of Sulu and their commitment to the ways of peace that would help turn the tide for their province.

"It is time we start believing in the people of Sulu because the time of Sulu has come," said Gordon. He pointed out that during his last visit to Sulu in mid-August, he saw that its hospital was being run very well and is staffed by volunteer nurses; teachers were teaching despite limitations and hardships, and that businesses, including six banks, continued to operate despite the adversities presented by Malacanang's declaration of an all-out offensive.

Sulu has a wide variety of products and assets. Its fruits are among the best in Mindanao. Its rich waters yield some of the best-tasting and biggest lobsters and other marine products in the country. It has white-sand beaches that can rival Boracay's.

Gordon said if Fruits of Hope can open people's eyes to Sulu's enormous potential for growth in terms of agriculture and tourism, the hopes of many for peace and prosperity in the province will be fulfilled.

"If we are serious about bringing development to Sulu, we must begin right here and right now,” he stressed. “We should not wait for the military offensive to be over before we start delivering economic development to the people of Sulu. Development is the key to peace, and to reap peace, we must invest in peace and this means investing in the development of Sulu." #

Fruits grow as harbingers of peace in Mindanao

Fruits grow as harbingers of peace in Mindanao
By Tarra Quismundo
Inquirer
Last updated 09:55pm (Mla time)
09/10/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- Bearing tons of produce and a payload of hope, a military cargo plane landed in Manila Monday from Mindanao hoping to kick start an initiative aimed at defeating the war in the south with an offensive of peace and livelihood.

The enticing sweet smell of fresh fruit filled the warm afternoon air at Villamor Air Base at 1 p.m. after a Philippine Air Force C-130 swung open its rear ramp to reveal crate upon crate of mangosteen and lanzones from Sulu.

It was the initial shipment of goods from the province that would kick off the “Fruit of Hope Program,” a peace-building initiative of the Philippine National Red Cross, the Sulu provincial government, the PAF, the nongovernment organization Asia America Initiative and Metro Manila supermarkets.

“This is a symbolic gesture, that all the fruits of Sulu, which has been a zone of war [although] it is really not a zone of war, that people are harvesting their products and we want them to get a better price for their products here in Metro Manila,” said Senator Richard Gordon, PNRC chair, who was on the two-hour flight from Mindanao.

“What happens is the products are just left there without being sold. It’s time to show that we are helping our friends there ... because Mindanao really is not a zone of war, it’s a zone of peace,” Gordon told reporters.

Bought from Sulu farmers at P20 per kilo, or four times the local price of P5, the four tons of mangosteen and two tons of lanzones are to be delivered to branches of two major Metro Manila supermarkets. The entire shipment was worth around P120,000.

Traders from Manila, who were introduced to Sulu produce through the initiative, found the fruits from the province to be competitive in quality and price. Manila supermarkets sell fruits grown mainly in southern Luzon provinces.

The produce was put together by a cooperative organized by the PNRC and the Sulu provincial government to oversee its sale and take in the revenue, said PNRC assistant secretary general Gwen Pang.

“A cooperative is being formed to take charge of quality control, to segregate fruits ... but it is owned by the people, by farmers from Jolo, Cotabato, Basilan, areas of armed conflict. Through the cooperative, what is earned would be distributed as dividends to farmers and to purchase machines to improve their processing technology,” Pang said.

The Air Force will make room for the produce whenever its C-130s fly to Manila from Sulu, PAF chief Lieutenant General Horacio Tolentino said in a recent press briefing.

The PAF’s three operating cargo planes, which fly almost daily to the Visayas and Mindanao, burn P300,000 worth of aviation fuel per hour of flight. A one-way trip from Sulu to Manila takes around two hours.

“This will be a continuing job for the PAF. For as long as we have fruits to be transported from Mindanao, the Air Force will be willing to provide aircraft,” said PAF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Epifanio Panzo Jr.

Gordon said future shipments could also be transported by sea. To this end, he called on the Department of Transportation and Communication to “nudge” shipping companies into using the Sulu port.

“I was told the Sulu port is perfect. All we need is a shipping company willing to use it, even if the government has to subsidize shipping. It’s cheaper to provide subsidies for shipping rather than go to war,” Gordon said.

“And it’s safer. No one will be killed, no one injured, and livelihood will be more progressive,” he added.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Fruits of Peace

When does a piece of fruit become a fruit of peace? Read on.

No fierce fighting, just fresh fruits in Sulu
By Arlyn dela CruzInquirerLast updated

04:36am (Mla time) 09/05/2007


JOLO, SULU -- In what may be a first in the history of Sulu province, a Philippine Air Force cargo plane won’t be bringing in more soldiers for war or retrieve the bodies of soldiers slain in encounters with bandits.


On orders of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the C-130 will embark on a mission here on Sept. 10 to pick up farmers’ produce in what Gov. Abdulsakur Tan described as a “symbolic act of humanitarian invasion.”


“It is actually part of the implementation of Administrative Order No. 192 issued by the President ordering a humanitarian offensive in Basilan, Sulu and other areas under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” Tan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.


AO 192 classifies the ARMM provinces -- Sulu, Basilan, Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Shariff Kabunsuan -- as “the poorest in the country.”


Tan said the absence of any fresh encounters between the military and the Abu Sayyaf, as well as other rebel groups, had paved the way for the uninterrupted harvest of farms.
Marketing problem


But one problem cropped up -- where to market the bounty aside from nearby Zamboanga City.
Bringing the produce to Metro Manila on a C-130 plane, Tan explained, was an idea he picked up from a recent visit of Sen. Richard Gordon to Sulu.


The senator, he said, “urged him to actively market the fruits harvested in Sulu” by seeking the assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry.


Gordon, in an Aug. 20 letter to Ms Arroyo, made a formal recommendation. “The produce is very cheap and DTI can help market the products of Sulu at better prices,” he said.


Cheap fruits


The streets of downtown Jolo are flooded by a seeming oversupply of durian, mangosteen and lanzones. A bunch of mangosteen that weighs almost two kilos costs only P7-P10. It costs more than P200 in Metro Manila.


Lanzones are sold in 5-kilo baskets at only P50. In Zamboanga, the same fruit is sold at P20-P30 a kilo.


Durian fruits stringed in threes can be bought at a bargain price of P15-P30, depending on size. In fruit stands in Greenhills, San Juan, and elsewhere in Metro Manila, they cost from P120 to P180 apiece.


Tan went to the DTI main office in Makati City to seek assistance in marketing the produce to be airlifted from Sulu by the C-130 plane.


The “humanitarian offensive” ordered by Ms Arroyo, according to the governor, indicated that she was not pursuing an all-out war in the province. Her parallel instruction to all Cabinet officials is an “all-out development offensive” in Sulu and Basilan.


“Finally, you in Metro Manila will get to taste just how sweet and delicious our durian, mangosteen and lanzones,” he said.

Ledesma: The presidentiables

wednesday, September 05, 2007
Ledesma: The presidentiables
By Jun Ledesma
Sunbursts

SENATOR Richard "Dick" Gordon is not keeping secret his ambition to be the next president of the Philippines. And why should he? Given the names, qualifications and winnability of those who desire to be on top of the political totem pole Gordon has all the necessary attributes for the post.

Let's look at each of the so-called presidentiables.

Manny Villar. Now Senate president, he wants to picture himself as the boy from the palengke of Tondo to the millionaires' row of Alabang, to Congress and then the Senate presidency.

He was pictured as the "masipag and matiyaga."

He made good in real estate although some quarters are saying that his successful political career is what propped his business.

Villar's however does not have a macro perspective of the country in that his interest is so confined in Metro Manila where his businesses and political constituents are. He has very little vision for Mindanao. His knowledge of the region is confined within what he reads in the newspapers given the fact that he comes to Mindanao only during election season.

Mar Roxas. His only asset is his name and Korina Sanchez. The fact that he is not married up to this time elicits some negative impressions. Born with a silver spoon in the mouth he wants to package himself as a rich boy to "Mr. Palengke."

Of course that's all suave advertising. Of all the presidentiables I think he is the weakling. He is a populist politician but limp as a leader.

Ping Lacson. Everybody thought he is the reason why FPJ lost. True to form, he is engrossed with investigation rather than legislation. In a nation enamored with leaders who can face and exterminate deadly gangs like "Kuratong Baleleng" and Bacchanalian womanizers, Ping has the popularity of his former boss and idol Joseph Estrada.

He is however haunted by the ghost of Bubby Dacer, the fugitives, and the crack at the FBI eavesdropping records in Philippine politics.

Dick Gordon. A Red Cross volunteer. He turned the Subic wasteland (after the US pullout) into a vibrant economic estate almost single-handedly. The only senator who shows up unexpectedly in every tragedy - natural disasters and war - wherever and whenever.

Next to GMA, he is the most well traveled political leader. But unlike GMA his travels are confined within the Philippines. No wonder why he has better grasp of the problems and prospects in Mindanao more than the rest of the senators combined.

I am most impressed by Senator Gordon's straightforwardness and pragmatic solutions on the complex problems of Mindanao. In an intimate exchange of ideas when we had a rare opportunity to speak with Gordon, I realized the whale of difference between him and Senator Villar.

Years back when he was Tourism Secretary, Gordon was laughed at when he commented that he will make Sulu and Tawi Tawi tourist destinations.

I too laughed at his sick optimism. But having listened to him, the idea is not at all impossible to achieve.

Last election, I attended a press forum of Senator Villar. I want to assess as to how well is he grounded on the problems besetting Mindanao and what are some of the legislative agenda he would initiate to correct the iniquitous inequality in the dispersal of government development fund and services that had always placed Mindanao in the last priority. Villar's response was short and evasive.

He said that investors are evading Mindanao because of the peace and order condition in the region. What is needed is to modernize the military so that the peace and order problems can be addressed. Period. I asked Gordon exactly the same question. His response was out of the (politicians) box.

If he has his way, he will send the navy ships to Jolo and Basilan to ferry all their products to Manila where the market is. He cited that at this time of the year, mangosteen and lanzones are bought by middlemen at P5.00 per kilo. These are sold at premium price in Manila for not less that P60 per kilo. Despite the abundance of fish in the Jolo sea, the fishermen only catch what they need for the day. If they are provided vessels that could transport their harvests to the markets, like Manila or Metro Cebu, eventually Jolowanos will live a life of bonanza!

Senator Gordon's vision for Mindanao starts with simple programs that immediately address the problem. And his solutions are diametrically opposed to Villar's imperial Manila-oriented ideas. Manny wants to buy more military hardware to that it can effectively fight the rebels.

Dick wants to use the naval ships transport goods from Mindanao to the prime markets in Metro Manila so that the rebels, farmers and fisher folks will realize a bigger profits from their harvests. Now who can argue with that.

Senate vows to block postponement of barangay, SK pollshttp://www.abs-cbnnews.com/topofthehour.aspx?StoryId=91100

The issue of crucial electoral reforms is vital to the interests of our countrymen as they continue to demand for fair, fast, and fraud-free elections. The implementation of the Automated Election Law authored by Senator Richard Gordon is the real answer to ending a future 'Hello Garci' and not the problem ridden re-opening of the wire-tap probe.

We were with Senator Richard Gordon and six hundred citizens as they rallied in front of the Comelec in Intramuros just before the official start of the campaign period for the 2007 elections to demand for the implementation of the Automated Election Law. We were with them when Comelec Commissioner Benjamin Abalos nearly broke down in tears, saying that he'd rather go to jail than implement the Automated Election Law. A newspaper columnist dismissed Gordon's call for the implementation of the amended Automated Elections Law, saying that the Senator would sooner or later get tired of it and move on. As things turn out, the columnist was wrong about Gordon and when the Senator commits himself to an issue, he doesn't let go of it until it is resolved -- especially so for an issue that will truly TRANSFORM the landscape of Philippine politics FOR REAL, FOR BETTER, FOR EVERYONE AND FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.

Senate vows to block postponement of barangay, SK polls
from abs-cbnnews.com

The Senate will block the proposal made by a committee from the House of Representatives to postpone the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections slated on October 29, ABS-CBN News reported.

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms, said Tuesday that it is highly unlikely for senators to endorse the proposal to defer the barangay and SK polls to the second Monday of May in 2009.

The proposal was made by the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms headed by Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin, Jr. Locsin said the proposal stemmed from the fact the country had just finished synchronized national and local polls in May this year.

Gordon said that incumbent barangay and SK officials had already enjoyed a three-year term extension because the polls have been postponed twice. The last village and youth polls were held in 2002. Elections were scheduled for 2005 but these were postponed.

The senator, however, said the Senate could allow the postponement should the Commission on Elections implement the computerization of the barangay polls as a preparation for the 2010 national elections. MalacaƱang echoed Gordon’s sentiments, saying that the present SK leaders are already beyond the age limit set by law.

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno added that the barangay officials have already been given excessive hold-over capacities because the synchronized barangay and SK polls have been reset twice. Puno said the department sees no reason for the postponement since funds are already available for the elections. The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms earlier recommended to reset barangay and SK elections be held on the second Monday of May in 2009. The committee said the postponement of the elections stemmed from the fact that the country just came from the May midterm elections.

The committee hearing was attended by COMELEC representatives, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Budget and Management.The postponement was also supported by the National Federation of Barangay Officials and the National Youth Commission.

Gordon exposes another alleged PRC anomaly

Gordon exposes another alleged PRC anomaly
Seafarers slam new requirementsBy Veronica Uy
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 06:26pm (Mla time) 09/04/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- At least seven organizations have asked the Senate’s help to stop the Professional Regulation Commission from requiring seafarers who want to become marine deck and engine officers take Management Level Courses, Senator Richard Gordon said Tuesday.

In a privileged speech, Gordon took the cudgels for the seafarers and criticized the PRC for overstepping its bounds by imposing the new prerequisites “over and beyond the requirements expressly stated in the law and the international convention.” “[The organizations] allege that previous scandals in PRC Deck Marine examinations, as in the nursing examinations, involved people associated with training and/or review centers that had strong influence on the PRC,” he said.

He was referring to Republic Act 8544 or the Philippine Merchant Marine Officers Act of 1998, which regulates the practice of the merchant marine profession in the country and mandates national compliance with the convention; and the International Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) of 1978.

Gordon said the law and the convention have not been amended to include what PRC has required.

The seafarers’ organizations opposed the new PRC requirement on the following grounds:
* the topics covered by the course are already part of the curriculum of maritime schools;* the courses, which are upgrading programs, should be optional;
* the courses, which cost P42,000 for the six-week course for marine deck officers and P52,000 for the eight-week course for marine engineers, are an added financial burden for Filipino seafarers;
* the courses are not needed to comply with the STCW Convention; and
* the courses were pushed by training centers on the PRC Board for Marine Officers.

Following the request of the seafarers’ organizations, Gordon said he would like a review of the new PRC requirement. The organizations also asked that the PRC stop imposing the new regulation pending the outcome of the review.The seven seafarers’ organizations are: Conference of Maritime Manning Agencies, the Crewing Managers Association of the Philippines, the Seaman’s Party Inc., the Pobar Marine Services, the United Filipino Seafarers, the Philippine Maritime Institute Alumni Association Inc., and the Integrated Marine Deck and Engine Officers Association Inc.

The Philippines is known as the manning capital of the world, as it supplies the biggest number of seafarers around the world; 230,000 at any given time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Victory!

Whenever we review Philippine history, sometimes what sticks to the minds of most of our countrymen are the stories of the defeats we suffered under the Spanish, the Americans, and the Japanese.

Ever wonder why Filipinos are characterized as being non-confrontational? One plausible explanation that comes to mind is that for generations, we have been taught as children that every time we fight, we lose. It is a negative trait driven by the fear of losing and the fear of failing.

Senator Richard Gordon calls it intellectual bludgeoning and he continues to find ways to reverse its effects.

Filipinos must also celebrate our victories

Saying that the Filipino people must celebrate their victories instead of just their defeats, Sen. Richard J. Gordon led government officials and civic leaders yesterday (September 3) in commemorating the 111th anniversary of the Battle of Imus during the Philippine Revolution of 1896.

The senator called the event as "the defining battle of the Revolution" because it was the first victory of Filipino revolutionary forces and it rallied all of Cavite and other provinces to arms against the Spanish colonial government.

"But regrettably, not too many people – especially our young people – know about Imus," he said. "They know more about Bataan and Corregidor, [which were] places of defeat and surrender."

Senator Gordon was joined at the commemoration by former Prime Minister Cesar Virata (a grandson of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo), Cavite governor Ayong Maliksi, and thousands of civic leaders and Cavitenos.

Probing the national tendency to dwell on defeat, the senator quoted historian and diplomat Leon Maria Guerrero who wrote: "We (Filipinos) have a national fondness for tragedy…We may applaud and honor the resolute fighters who serve their country with the strength of their arms…but we reserve our highest homage and deepest love for the Christ-like victims [and] their tragic failures…."

As a result, the Filipino official calendar is filled with holidays dedicated to agonizing setbacks like Bataan and Corregidor and the martyred and fallen. "But we forget to reserve a place for those who have stood tall and triumphant at the barricades," Gordon said, "starting with the great chief Lapu-lapu who opened our historic encounter with the West with a historic and defiant 'No.'"

The Battle of Imus had a "transformational impact" on the Katipunan uprising that had been prematurely triggered by the betrayal of its plans. "Until the storied battle [in Imus], the revolution had been mainly a series of setbacks and retreats," Gordon said.

After three days of fighting in Imus, from September 1 to 3, 1896, however, Filipino forces led by General Aguinaldo and Imus leader Col. Jose Tagle defeated the best of Spanish forces led by General Aguirre. The Filipino revolutionaries captured 70 Remington rifles, assorted battle equipment, and General Aguirre's saber. "To both the Filipino and Spanish forces, the rebellion had become a revolution," Gordon said.

But the historic battle did not enter the national memory like Balintawak, Pinaglabanan, Bataan and Corregidor. One big reason why, according to the senator, is that in the early days of the American occupation, "it was forbidden even to fly the Filipino flag." The Americans did not want President Aguinaldo and other revolutionary leaders "to become living heroes to our people."

After the recovery of national independence in 1946, Filipinos nonetheless continued to "accept the selective memory of our colonizers," according to Gordon.

They accepted "the self-serving histories of those whose chief deed was to compromise the revolution." Saying that Filipinos need to recover "the unbroken, continuous life of our nation" and recapture the seamless whole, Senator Gordon said that we should mark and celebrate days like the battles of Imus and Mactan in this day and age. "Whatever the reason, we are wrong to select only our defeats and tragedies for homage, forgetting our great moments of triumph and vindication," he said. "We are wrong to forget key chapters in our national story out of politeness to others, for they form one seamless thread of our national saga and journey. They affirm the continuity and glory of our race."

A reaction to the Mar Roxas 2010 blog

We must have hurt Kevin Ray Chua's feelings and we'd like to apologize. In anycase, we've left a comment on his post, explaining why we said what we said. The Professional Heckler Blog is funny and very well researched, well worth posting a reaction to. What we said in our comment on this blog was said in a tone and manner which we thought would appeal to its readers. Engaging in humor similar to the kind of humor Dick Gordon was accorded apparently offended some people and we apologize if we offended anyone.

We've gotten our fair share of digs about campaigning for Dick Gordon and we don't mind getting ribbed at all because, at the very least, we've gotten a couple more people thinking about the Presidential Elections in 2010 and we've gotten a couple more people thinking about Dick Gordon as a Presidential Candidate.

That said, we take this space to print our comment on Kevin Ray Chua's blog post:

Hi Kevin,

Peace!

Team Gordon admires your stand on an issue as crucial as the next presidency and your commitment to informing people about someone whom you believe will be truly right for the job. It is a noble commitment to think about your country's future and it is commendable that you are doing something to do what you think is best for your country.

If you will permit us, let us make our position clear.

There are those who dig at Roxas for being cautious in committing to one side or another of an issue. There are those who chide Roxas for keeping his positions on issues, including his bid for the Presidency, close to his chest or at least, indiscernible. On one hand, this keeps people wondering what he'll say or do -- becoming fodder for speculations which sometimes get played up in the media. On the other, even his supporters and followers urge him to make his position known. Some, with or without his 'go ahead', take positions for him and so he has the leeway to maneuver. (Depending on how you see it, his LP partymates were the ones who declared their support for him, if he runs for President -- declaring him as the frontrunner or standard bearer. Almost as if it was an attempt to create an impression that there is a clamor for him to run. And there is such a clamor, as much as there is a clamor for Loren, Noli, Ping, Manny Villar, and even Erap.)

This non-commitment is one thing about his character, which is neither good or bad in the grand scheme of politics (as nothing in politics is really good or bad in the moral sense), but is something we are not comfortable with. Is it a sign of weakness on his part or is it a sign of strength? I guess that will depend on the stand he finally takes, if he takes one.

In contrast, people take a dig at Dick Gordon for the stands he takes and he has a stand on a lot of things. This is something you have to expect of someone who is comfortable with being an Executive.

When he was mayor of Olongapo, he took a stand against moves to end the US bases treaty when the call of the times (the call of recently awakened Nationalism) was to end the treaty that was the lifeblood of Olongapo as well as other provinces in Region 3. He took a stand in insisting that Subic Bay be given a freeport status. He took a stand when he batted for Philippine tourism on the global stage, despite a laughable budget for tourism promotions... despite travel advsiories against the Philippines because of SARS and terrorism... Olongapo rose from the US bases pull out and rose from the ashes of Pinatubo... Subic Bay became tourism and investment destination... Philippine tourism experienced true resurgence, with international tourist arrivals growing every year...

A few days ago, he took a meaningful stand on the situation in Basilan and Sulu after he visited those provinces as Red Cross Chairman. He said people should stop calling Basilan, Sulu, and other areas in Mindanao as War Zones. He recommended for the DTI to start marketing agricultural produce from Basilan and Sulu, he advocated tourism promotion for those areas, he called for national government to beef up basic and social services to these islands. Invest in peace, he said. Perhaps only daring and compassion can put an end to decades old violent conflict. To be daring and compassionate, you have to take a stand.

Just today, he has taken a stand on the issue of whether or not to postpone barangay and SK elections, saying that he'll only consider postponing these elections if it will be automated. This is a stand he took when he filed the Automated Elections bill and worked to get it passed. He fought for its implementation during the 2007 elections and continues to fight for its implementation so that we can finally end problems like 'Hello Garci'... Making investigations future investigations into the 'wire tap controversy' unnecessary.

Leaders rise and fall on the stands they make... Without a stand, you cannot lead...
You can choose to publish this comment and if not, we'll understand.

Team Gordon 2010

P.S.

Gordon confirmed that he is interested in the Presidency, this is why we launched this blog and why we are working to get people to sign up to support his campaign. Frankly Kevin, we hope that Mar Roxas does announce his intention to run for President, so that all the good work you've done will amount to something.



Kevin Ray Chua's blog post appears below.

Why Mar Roxas refuses to talk about his 2010 plans
Thursday, August 30, 2007

This is in response of Team Gordon 2010's comment on the article in The Professional Heckler Blog about 2010 wherein it talked about Sen. Richard Gordon's pronouncement that he will run for President in 2010.In the comments of the article, Team Gordon 2010 said:
Good evening Mr. Heckler!

In reaction to: “Sen. Richard Gordon is running for president in 2010. If he wins, he’ll become the first Dick to rule the Philippines.” We dare ask, would people rather have a cunt ruling the country?

But seriously, the future is nothing to joke about. We all know that this country needs some serious changes… We can’t leave the tough and terrible business of change to chance… We need somebody with vision, experience and a solid track record for effecting changes that are for real, for better, for everyone and for generations to come… That somebody is Dick Gordon.
Olongapo, Subic, and Tourism… The Philippine National Red Cross… The Fair Elections Act which aims to automate the electoral process in time for the 2010 elections and eliminate wholesale electoral fraud… The tourism bill…

Perhaps, people need to take a closer look at Dick Gordon… He has been ready to lead the country for a long time.

As for :"Mar Roxas is reportedly eyeing the presidency too but he refuses to talk about his plans for 2010. That makes him a “closet contender” for president.” We were going to ask why he seems so chummy chummy with Joey Salceda, John Osmena, and Boy Abunda?

I agree that Sen. Richard Gordon has indeed made good accomplishments. I applaud him for his great job as Olongapo City mayor, as SBMA Chairman, as Senator and as Philippine National Red Cross Chairman. He has indeed made a mark in public service. But he's not my man for the Presidency, sorry.

Why is Senator Mar Roxas silent on his 2010 plans? We'll he not too silent about it. He talks 2010 but doesn't extends it to a more clear topic. But please don't refer his as "chummy chummy with Joel Salceda, John Osmena, and Boy Abunda." He's just protecting his integrity. Senator Gordon's announcement last July 6, 2007 that he's considering running in 2010 made him already a 2010 guy. He was silent before, but now, after he made that announcement, people will perceive that everything that he will do is for 2010, which I think is not right. He can't do function properly as Senator because many people would quickly think that when he works, he's campaigning early, which I think is unfair for him.

That's what Senator Mar Roxas is preventing from.We'll, if you say that potential presidential candidates should get real and tell the people that they're running, I think it's still not the right time. It's too early for them to do that, but not to early for us (their fans). We can say that "I want him to be the President in 2010!" because it our own decision. We can't speak in behalf of them. What we are doing is to inform them that we support him/her as President in 2010 but still, it's up to them whether they would run or not.