Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fruits of Hope gains funding support

Bicam Approves Gordon Amendment in ACEF Budget for Agricultural Products Transportation Earmarked

Senator Richard J. Gordon reported today that the Bicameral Conference Committee on the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) has concluded the bill ready for PGMA’s signature. “The ACEF is a massive source of funding originally envisioned to enhance competitiveness of the agricultural and fisheries sector. It is an important piece of legislation that will change the lives of our farmers and their families. Through the ACEF, the government’s support can be clearly felt through the implementation of support projects for credit, infrastructure, research and development, and the like,” Senator Gordon explained.

During the Bicam, Senator Gordon as co-author of the bill fought for the earmarking of funds to increase supply chain efficiency and other infrastructure including access, as well as an established transportation mechanism towards speedy delivery of products. The Gordon Amendment was accepted by the committee and is included in the final draft.

“The amendment sealed the government’s commitment to agriculture by allotting funds for the transportation of goods to markets where the goods can actually be sold and consumed,” Senator Gordon noted. “I laud Senator Angara for sponsoring this measure in the Senate and pushing the Committee to work hard for this early Christmas gift for our farming and fishing sectors.”

As the catalyst of “Fruits of Hope”, a project that assisted in the transport of fruits from Sulu and other provinces from the South to supermarkets here in Manila, Senator Gordon said that “this amendment will solidify the efforts we have already started. With this amendment, the law will allow government to work with our people by giving our people the opportunity to sell their products so they can earn to lead better lives.”

“With this law, we help eradicate poverty and give insurgency one less reason to gain support all throughout the nation. When we give the people a government that will work for the betterment of their lives and their future, we are one step closer to a unified stand towards development.” Senator Gordon concluded.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Justice in Estrada trial appointed to Supreme Court

Justice in Estrada trial appointed to Supreme Court

By Jomar Canlas, Reporter

A JUSTICE in the plunder case against former President Joseph Estrada was appointed to the Supreme Court on Monday.

Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, the Sandiganbayan presiding justice and chairman of the Special Division that heard the Estrada case, confirmed the appointment, but she denied it is a reward for the conviction of Estrada.

De Castro believes she got the job because of merit and her qualification, she told The Manila Times, adding, "It is the grace of God."

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita has sent a transmittal letter containing de Castro's appointment to Chief Justice Reynato Puno on Monday, The Times has learned.

To date, President Gloria Arroyo has appointed 13 justices to the High Court, but only 11 are still serving, as justices Romeo Callejo and Cansio Garcia have retired. De Castro fills the slot of Associate Justice Garcia, who retired October 20 when he turned 70.

There are 15 members of the Supreme Court in all. The four other justices were chosen by former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Estrada—with two appointees each. Chief Justice Puno was named to the Supreme Court by ex-President Ramos, but the appointment as chief justice was made by President Arroyo.

De Castro reportedly got seven votes from the Judicial and Bar Council, along with Court of Appeals Justices Edgardo Cruz and Martin Villarama Jr. Other names that made it to the shortlist are Sandiganbayan Justices Edilberto Sandoval and Francisco Villaruz who reportedly received five votes each. Labor Secretary Arturo Brion also made it to the council's shortlist and got five votes.

The Constitution gives the President the power to appoint members of the Supreme Court, but the Judicial Bar Council makes a shortlist of candidates.

Legal career

De Castro graduated cum laude with a degree in political science at the University of the Philippines in 1968. She took up law, also at UP, graduating in 1972.

She worked as a legal and judicial assistant at the Supreme Court from 1973 to 1978. Afterwards she joined the Department of Justice as state counsel in 1978 and stayed until 1995, eventually becoming assistant chief state counsel.

She was promoted to the Sandiganbayan in 1995 by then-President Ramos. She became presiding justice of the antigraft court in December 2004.


Sen. Richard Gordon welcomed de Castro's appointment. "She is highly qualified. She is independent and very intelligent."

Gordon said de Castro had a lot of experience, and the senator finds her independent-minded and tough. "I named her to the board of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority because she is capable of making me go straight," he said, referring to the time when he was chairman of the free port.

He added that he does not believe that de Castro's appointment is a reward for Estrada's guilty conviction. "President Arroyo pardoned Erap despite [de Castro's] decision, so it is not a reward," Gordon said, referring to Estrada by his nickname. "That was even a slap in [de Castro's] face."

Estrada himself declined to comment. His son, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, could not be reached for comment as of press time.

In the House of Representatives, opposition lawmakers also welcomed the appointment of de Castro to the Supreme Court.

House Senior Deputy Minority Leader Satur Ocampo of the left-leaning Bayan Muna party-list said he sees no point in criticizing the appointment of de Castro as "she has done her work very well."
--With Efren L. Danao and Maricel V. Cruz

Monday, December 3, 2007

PNRC Chair Gordon Helps Settle the Ambu-plane Transport of Stranded Filipino Coma Patient

A Filipino tourist who suffered a heart attack while onboard a plane en route back to the Philippines has finally come home today after lying comatose for two weeks at a regional hospital in Siberia, Russia. Romulo del Rosario, 78, together with his wife Leticia and son Gary, was on his way back to Manila from a week-long vacation in Lourdes, Italy when he suffered a heart attack while in flight. The British Airways flight carrying the family made an emergency landing in Irkutsk City in Siberia last October 19 to bring Del Rosario to a hospital. Del Rosario was finally brought home through Flight Ambulance International Plane which landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 5:15 A.M today.

Emergency medical technicians from the Philippine National Red Cross - emergency response unit took the patient from the ambu-plane right at the Tarmac Ramp of NAIA straight to the Philippine General Hospital.

Del Rosario had been confined comatose in the Irkutsk regional hospital for more than two weeks though his attending physician already gave the clearance to repatriate the patient back to Philippines.

In a text message forwarded by his son, Rolando, to PNRC Chairman Richard Gordon, he said that the travel insurance provider of his father, the Blue Cross of Hongkong, refused to settle the payment for the ambu-plane which cost more than six million pesos.

“We sought the help of Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) for assistance but they said that they can only assist OFW’s so they have to endorse our request to the office of the President. Given no other option, we therefore, decided to appeal to the PNRC Chairman Richard J. Gordon, if it is possible for the Red Cross to help us repatriate my husband which is really too expensive because an ambulance plane is needed with doctors on board,” Leticia recounts.

Chairman Gordon immediately carried the request of Mr. Rolando del Rosario and settled everything with the insurance company until everything was arranged.

“Gordon immediately followed-up everything for the transport of my husband. We are very lucky to have the support of the Red Cross, especially of Chairman Gordon. Thank you very much,” she added further.

Del Rosario is now in the Intensive Care Unit of the Philippine General Hospital, being attended to by Dr. Paul Pasco.