Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Senator Richard Gordon urged the national government to impose a clear state policy that will protect the Filipino people against the commercial export and sale of human kidneys and other human organs.
" We end up with a "bidding war" where the healthy organs are up for sale to the highest bidder. We're playing God — he who has the money lives longer. It is a sign of very dark times for the Filipino people when reports show our country to be one of the top sources of organs for sale " Gordon said.
Gordon explained that the supply-and-demand scenario only increases inequality between the impoverished and the wealthy. "A poor person who donates a kidney – or any other body part, for that matter – holds risks in terms of post-operative care. Does he or she receive the necessary medicines as well as the medical follow-up after the operation? Does he or she have access to a healthy diet and environment?"
Gordon also cited a news story posted in dated September 28, 2007 which revealed that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was looking into possible involvement of doctors and other medical personnel of prominent hospitals in the illegal human organ trade.
During an interpellation at the Senate, National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI) mentioned that there are about 3,000 to 5,000 registered kidney transplants a year but in Isla Puting Bato in Baseco Tondo alone, a community of 45,000, 3,000 people already 'donated' their kidneys.
"I suspect that there are a lot of unregistered kidney transplants happening. The danger is that no one either supervises or monitors these unregistered operations. What is the national government doing to monitor this organ trade? It is not like an abortion that anyone can just do at home. You cannot do that with a kidney transplant. You have to be in a hospital for an operation like this. Government agencies like the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) should be able to monitor these" he lamented.
Gordon said that "the proliferation of organ trade especially amongst poor communities begs the following ethical challenges: Is the sale of an organ voluntary when the seller is forced by poverty to engage in the trade? Is the sale of an organ a justifiable means to fight poverty."
United States television network CNN, last week reported that perfectly healthy men and women in the Philippines have their kidneys harvested and sold. They told the story of Leo Coca who built a house with the money he got from selling his kidney, of the unemployed Ricky Villegas who sold his kidney for $2000 because his family needed the money; and of the 19-year old Joey Ebanyez who sold his kidney to help his sick mother and whose share of money was gone within three months of his operation. The recipients of their kidneys were foreigners – two Chinese and one Saudi. --30--

Monday, November 19, 2007

Senate ways and means committee OKs more tax exemptions

Senate ways and means committee OKs more tax exemptions
By Veronica Uy
Last updated 04:59pm (Mla time) 11/16/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- The Senate committee on ways and means on Friday approved two bills seeking to give bigger deductions on estate taxes to allow heirs to keep the family home.

Senate Bill 285, which was sponsored by Senator Richard Gordon, increases the maximum allowable deductible medical expenses in the computation of the net estate for the estate tax from P500,000 to P1.5 million.

Senate Bill 286, also sponsored by Gordon, allows the deduction of the full current fair market value of the family home (exceeding P1 million) from the net estate of the deceased person if he or she leaves a surviving spouse behind.

“This intends to ease the burden of the surviving spouse from the ordeal of putting up cash to pay for the estate tax on the family home, especially after having suffered the death of the decedent, mourning the loss of the family, and shouldering many other expenses, particularly medical and burial expenses of the decedent,” Gordon said, explaining the rationale of the bill.

The senator said sick people tend to spend a lot of money during their illness and many are forced to sell their homes to spend for their treatment. The twin bills, he said, would ease the burden on the heirs, who are usually left with no family home left after all their assets are spent on the treatment of their sick relative.

However, Senator Francis Escudero, who chairs the Senate committee on ways and means, said that while his committee approved the bills, it cannot submit a committee report until the House of Representatives submits its version of the two measures.

“But at least one step is over. We’re on to the second step, the plenary debate when the House version is submitted,” he said.

Escudero noted that revenue measures like the national budget and tax exemptions need to start with the Lower House.

On the measure to exempt the bank deposits of senior citizens from withholding tax, the senator said senior citizens invited to the hearing themselves say that most of them don’t have money in the banks. He said the senior citizens are more amenable to the proposal to exempt them from the 12 percent expanded value-added tax.

“They said that the 20 percent discount they get as senior citizens are effectively cut down to eight percent because of the EVAT,” he said.

A bill seeking to repeal the EVAT from Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Ana Consuelo Madrigal was opposed by the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue at the hearing.

The DoF and the BIR argued that a repeal of the law would result in revenue loss of P76 billion.

“The BIR is currently computerizing its operations, and with this we expect higher efficiency in collection,” Escudero said, adding that the Senate would oppose any new tax revenue measures from the government.

He said he is waiting for figures from the DoF and the BIR on the effect of computerization on collections to help the committee in considering the measure to repeal EVAT.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gordon: Open new Silay airport,

Gordon: Open new Silay airport,
convert old site into tourism


Senator Richard Gordon yesterday called on Western Visayas not to fall into a pall of gloom following the bombing in the House of Representatives that left four dead and nine injured, but to continue to remain focused on its tourism thrusts.

“If Manila stumbles, it is the turn of Western Visayas to fight on and spread the sunshine of tourism in the Philippines ,” said Gordon, who spoke at the WV Tourism Assembly at the Business Inn in Bacolod City .

Gordon also called for an end to arguments over the opening of the new Bacolod–Silay Airport and for the province to maximize its use right away to boost tourism in Negros Occidental.

He said to sustain two airports – the Bacolod airport and the new one in Silay, is probably not the right direction.

Gordon suggested that the site of the old Bacolod airport be converted to create a new tourism boom area in the city.

At the same time he lauded the tourism thrust of Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia and the growth of the MassKara Festival.

He also called on Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella and the rest of the country's congressmen to pass a tourism bill in the House that will ensure funding for the promotion of Philippine tourism internationally.

Promotion of tourism is necessary to draw the tourists to the country, he said.

“Tourism is a magnificent industry, it is a catch all basin that provides opportunities for those who are willing to risk it,” he said.

“We must walk forward never mind the bombing,” he said.

Gordon, who supervised Red Cross assistance to the bombing victims Tuesday night, said he condoles with the victims and condemns the dastardly act but “we cannot have a pity party and loose our focus for the country”.

“We must not put on a sad face, we must have a happy face and keep the culture of tourism alive in the country,” said Gordon, who called the Visayas the beach capital of Asia .

We must destroy myth and the walls in our mind that we cannot conquer the world. We should not take on the doom and gloom scenario, what we have is the resoluteness and we must never lose our stride, Gordon said.

“We must be focused, fast, friendly, flexible and forward looking at all times,” Gordon said.

Gordon also called for respite from negative news about the Philippines so that the rest of the world can also see its good side.

Participants at the WV Tourism Assembly were welcomed by Leonardia and Board Member Edgardo Acuña, representing Negros Occidental Gov. Joseph Marañon.

Also at the assembly were Tourism Undersecretaries Salvador Sarabia Jr. and Oscar Palabyab.*CPG

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Presidential aspirants dared: Start debates now

Presidential aspirants dared: Start debates now

Senator Richard Gordon yesterday challenged presidential wannabes to start public debates among themselves even if the next election would still be held two-and- a-half years from now.

Debates will enhance the chances of candidates with limited resources to present an alternative platform of government, Gordon said.

Gordon, who said he is available for the presidential race, did not name names but only recently, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay floated his plan to join the 2010 presidential derby.

Chairman Bayani Fernando of the Metro Manila Development Authority also dropped hints of his political plans but said his party, Lakas, has the final word on its standard-bearer.

Gordon said the Philippines should take a cue from the practice in the United States where the Republican and Democratic parties start early the process of selecting their prospective standard-bearers as what is happening now.

“In my view, it is in the best interest of the people for presidential aspirants to come out and engage in debates among themselves like what they are doing in the US,” he told an interview with newsmen.

Unless the presidential debates are held—and as early as possible, Gordon said the surveys will again influence the judgment of the people which, he said, is favorable to well-funded candidates but unfair to people like him who could not match the resources of the former.

He said that in previous presidential elections, the candidates had the tendency to shy away from debates especially if they were super-rich or very popular figures from show business.

Gordon said it is through public debates that the people will really know who are capable of providing leadership and solving the multifarious ills of the country.

Gordon has no qualms in presenting himself as a presidential aspirant, saying he dreamt of being catapulated to Malacañang as early as 1992.

“I am available, but I haven’t made any announcement yet,” he said.

“I think my options are open. At present, I am working as a senator but I am available for the presidency because like what other people have said, I should have run in 1992 or in 1998. But I didn’t have enough resources or experience at that time.”

“I think having been a mayor [of Olongapo City], having been a Constitutional Convention delegate, having been chairman of the Subic Bay Authority, having been a secretary of tourism promoting our country, having been governor of the Philippine National Red Cross helping our people in all major disasters in the country, I think I have now enough experience.”

Gordon admitted that it would give him tremendous advantage if he will be chosen as the standard-bearer of the ruling Lakas party or the administration coalition.

“I am always referred to as an administration senator. But I don’t always vote for the administration. I have been critical of the pardon for [former President] Erap [Estrada]. And I’m not with Erap either.”

Lakas sounding board

Fernando said the ruling coalition, Lakas Christian-Muslim Democrat is announcing possible standard-bearers for the presidential polls to know the sentiments of the electorate this early.

“The party is deliberately floating names so we would know who the people would support. It would also come up with a survey,” he said.

He said the track record of a leader is a factor being considered to become a presidential standard-bearer than one’s popularity.

MMDA general manager Robert Nacianceno said Fernando is qualified to run for the “highest post in the executive branch.”

“In the bureaucracy, who could be a good president, but one who has the political will, managerial capacity and the executive experience. He must know how the government works and how to manage the budget,” Nacianceno said. Fel V. Maragay and Rio N. Araja

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Statement of Senator Richard Gordon


Recently we saw a news report on CNN where Dr. Reynaldo Lesaca of the Philippine National Kidney Institute broached the idea of legalizing the export or sale of human kidneys.

We think that such a proposition is unethical and immoral.

The act of donating any human organ should be done with the intention of saving and extending another's life. It should be an altruistic act, where the donor or the body of the donor is treated with utmost dignity and respect. It is also a situation where the receiver of the human organ receives it as a gift of life.

The commercial export and sale of human kidneys or any human organ for that matter dehumanizes and desecrates this act. It treats the human body as a mere commodity, a potential scrap heap of body parts up for sale for the highest bidder and to profit from this trade is unconscionable.

We have already learned of cases in recent years where poverty stricken men and women sold their kidneys out of desperation. Proposing the legalization of the sale of human organs will, with all certainty, give rise to an industry that will feed off and add to the suffering of millions of our people caught in dire financial straights.

We will block off any such proposal to legalize the sale of human organs.


Statement of Senator Richard Gordon

Deputy Speaker Ma. Amelita Villarosa of the House of Representatives and regional head of Kampi made a recent admission to distributing cash gifts to various local government officials during a gathering at Malacanang. This admission, for whatever reason, puts to light the basest manifestation of our transactional political culture and should challenge our people to rise up to make political parties more accountable for their actions.

We can't say that what had transpired in Malacanang was bribery or an attempt to secure some kind of action in return for a generous sum of money. However, millions of pesos changed hands under circumstances where the resident of Malacanang was being assailed by scandals and an impeachment complaint had just been filed. It is hard to believe that money, from 20,000 pesos to 500,000 pesos were being distributed without anyone telling anyone what it was for and where it had come from. It is even harder to believe that the President, who we assume is also the leader of Kampi, did not know that money was being distributed like rain or sunshine.

Kampi and other political organizations should be compelled by a law to divulge the sources of their funds and show the manner in which these funds are disposed of.

Just as we are fully intent on pushing for a law that will stop party switching and regulate the practice of mainstream politics, the bigger aspect and the wider view of this action is to craft a body of laws that will make political parties more accountable for their actions and win for everyone a chance to sow the seeds of transforming our rotting political culture.

Gordon calls for younger, more aggressive Comelec nominees

Gordon calls for younger, more aggressive Comelec nominees
By Veronica Uy
Last updated 01:09pm (Mla time) 11/05/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- Nominees to the Commission on Elections should be “younger, more aggressive,” Senator Richard Gordon said Monday.

Gordon, who heads the committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws, was reacting to reports that retired Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo would be appointed as Comelec chairman.

Last week, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Iligan City regional trial court judge Moslemen Macarambon as Comelec commissioner.

“We need a young leader who is savvy about information technology because we have an antiquated election system. There are going to be pressures. We need someone who can move fast and decide cases, and who can have a tight rein on commissioners and Comelec people like [former election commissioner Virgilio] Garcillano and [missing Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang] Bedol,” said Gordon.

He said he would have to check if retired justices could still be appointed to the Comelec, even after they had received their retirement paychecks.

With Macarambon's appointment, there are three more vacancies at the poll body -- the one vacated by resigned poll chief Benjamin Abalos, and the two to be vacated by acting Comelec chairman Resurreccion Borra and commissioner Florentino Tuason in February next year.

Gordon said that aside from appointing people of proven integrity, independence, and competence, electoral reforms must be instituted.

“There are so many things that you need to fix in the Comelec. Number one is the pride problem. There is no pride in the Comelec, and their reputation as independent arbitrator is shot. And they are in charge of the most basic and fundamental right of the people,” he said.

Gordon, who is set to file a bill seeking to penalize “political butterflies,” said automation of the electoral system should be the administration’s top priority.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


The Senate passed on third reading Committee Report No. 13, entitled "An Act Providing Stiffer Penalties for the Crime of Theft and Robbery of Portable Telecommunication Devices."
Senator Richard Gordon said that the passage of the Anti-Cellphone Snatching Bill by the Senate is an important piece of legislation to protect people from cell phone and computer snatchers.
"Our cellular phones and our personal computers are important tools we carry around everyday. Vital, private and even confidential information are stored in these devices. With this bill, we seek to discourage or eliminate altogether the high incidence of thievery of portable mobile devices. We hope to restore confidence and enhance personal safety of our people while punishing the snatchers and thieves," Gordon added.
Gordon also explains that "the law imposes a penalty one degree higher than those prescribed by the Revised Penal Code to the crimes of Robbery and Theft when the object stolen is a portable telecommunication device. Cellphones, digital assistants, laptops, portable radios and other portable telecommunication devices are covered by the bill."
Under the approved bill, any cell phone theft resulting in death shall be punishable by life imprisonment.
"With this bill, we hope to trump the snatchers and increase personal security, Gordon emphasized. --30--

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pardon one offense, and you encourage the commission of many.
--- Publilius Syrus
(~100 BC), Maxims

The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use - of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.
--- Robert F. Kennedy (1925 - 1968),
'I Remember, I Believe,'
The Pursuit of Justice, 1964