Monday, December 7, 2009

Dick Gordon and Bayani Fernando are the better choices for 2010

I agree with everything that has been said about this article, except for the last paragraph. Richard "Dick" Gordon and Bayani "BF" Fernando are not only the CORRECT Choices, they are the BETTER choices for President and Vice President!

Correct but unwise choice
A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away) By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) Updated December 07, 2009 12:00 AM

The entry of Gordon and Fernando tandem in the presidential race somehow brightens the political horizon. They may not have generated as much excitement and hope as when Aquino and Roxas announced their candidacies but they certainly enhance, or even revive, the “good versus evil” choice in the 2010 elections. Before they joined the race, only the Aquino-Roxas tandem appears to present to the electorate that kind of choice. With their entry the people are given the “better versus good” choice. Indeed Gordon and Fernando may turn out to be the only other alternative in the “good vs. evil” choice as the Aquino-Roxas team and their handlers in the Liberal Party are slowly turning out to be the same trapos engaging in transactional politics. They may become only the “lesser evil” among the other serious presidential contenders.

Richard Gordon first attracted national attention when he served as Mayor of Olongapo City in the early 90’s. His no nonsense, hands on style of running the city affairs and rendering public service was refreshingly extraordinary and distinct from the usual run of the mill type of governance rendered by Mayors of other cities and municipalities at that time. He showed and demonstrated the real meaning of “public service as a public trust” by using the powers of his office in order “to serve and not to be served”. His dedication to the performance of his duties enabled him in turn to instill discipline on his constituents in strictly following the law and dutifully complying even with the traffic rules and regulations. At that time he was already regarded as a presidential timber much like the late Mayor Arsenio H. Lacson of Manila in another era.

The same can be said of Gordon’s teammate, Bayani Fernando. Adopting Gordon’s style, Fernando also converted Marikina City into a progressive, clean and orderly metropolis. In the various government posts he held, Fernando distinguished himself as a government official who does not hesitate to enforce the law or to carry out a valid and legal order no matter who gets hurt. His strong determination to do what he believes is necessary, right and proper even if unpopular and damaging to his political career really caught the public’s attention and renewed hope for that much needed reform in governance. Initially he projected the image similar to Lee Kwan Yiew of Singapore although lately he seemed to have been overwhelmed by the well entrenched rotten democratic system of government now prevailing in this country.

One of the oft repeated criticisms against leaders who have been in the government saddle is the lack of “political will” in performing of their jobs. They said this lack of “political will” is among the main reasons for the inefficiency, ineptness and corruption in the past and present administration. Gordon and Fernando are the only ones among the tandem running in the presidential derby who have demonstrated some kind of political will based on their performance record.

The inefficiency, ineptness, corruption and injustices in the past and present governments have also been attributed to the kind of politics practiced by politicians aspiring to lead us. These politicians particularly the other presidential and vice presidential aspirants are undoubtedly engaging in transactional politics of wheeling and dealing, horse trading, party hopping and political realignments based on personalities rather than principles. Apparently, only Gordon and Fernando have so far been immunized from practicing such kind of politics as shown by their public service record. They somehow inspire hope for that much needed reform in rendering public service with “utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency”. They sound credible enough when they present themselves as the “transformers”.

Comparing their public service record, the Gordon-Fernando tandem seems to have an edge over the Aquino-Roxas team. They also generate a lot more hope for that longed-for change in our government. And this is primarily because the Aquino-Roxas team and their handlers in the Liberal Party have also fallen into the trap of engaging in transactional politics, accepting turncoats and trapos into their fold just to ensure and clinch victory. This is not my assessment only. Several readers have posted on the internet the same kind of observation like the following:

“I agree with the article. If the politicians were sincere in their advocacy for change, they should have done so months before, out of principle. It seems they only jump ship when it is convenient, when they already see the surveys. Noynoy seems to be a trapo. He was holding a meeting with Erap at the height of typhoon Ondoy. He met with Chiz. He got mutineer Danny Lim in his senatorial slate. He was even open to meeting with the Marcoses who ironically had the decency to know the implication of a possible merger. But not Noynoy. The Hyatt 10, Cory’s Bulong Brigade, Kamag-Anak Inc are back in power. If Noynoy cannot control LP, what chances does he have in leading the country?” (Posted November 23, 2009 by a certain “selina_burnett’).

“It is indeed disappointing to see Noynoy and Mar accepting turncoats. The LP will be seen now as a party of trapos. Sad, quite sad. I would not be surprised if Noynoy’s popularity slides because of this” (Posted November 23, 2009 by “keener00196).

“How can Noynoy be the candidate who will lead change for the country when he has on his side all the old trapos and oligarchs who want to maintain the status quo? No transformation in our system of governance can happen as long as a leader is beholden to conflicting interests of the different groups supporting him” (Posted November 23, 2009 by nermd).

Before it is too late, Noynoy and Mar should revert back to principled politics and change their tactics. As another reader writes, “Noynoy honesty ang pinaglalaban natin. Huwag ka nang kumuha ng ibang LP converts. Ikaw at Mar lang panalo na tayo. Huwag ka nang kumuha ng iba na makakabawas sa boto mo dahil sa kanila, kayong dalawa lang panalo na tayo” (Posted by noynoyparapangulo November 23, 2009).

This is just a friendly reminder. While the correct choice is Gordon and Fernando because of their strong political will to transform our kind of governance, it appears to be an unwise choice at this time because only Noynoy and Mar, as shown by the surveys, are in a position to prevent the other leading contenders from winning the race and from further inflicting upon us more of the same kind of inept, inefficient and corrupt government. The element of trust in Aquino and Roxas to bring the necessary changes is still there. But if they continue with their backsliding ways, Gordon and Fenando may be the only good choice left for people to realize that longed-for change.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gordon appeals for sobriety and restraint in holding of Anti-Cha Cha rallies

Senator Richard Gordon ( Ind. ) appealed to all sectors participating in Anti-Charter Change rallies nationwide to pursue their protests peacefully. At the same time, he called on the police and military to demonstrate restraint and tolerance for the political exercise.

“Demonstrations against charter change are valid, democratic exercises but it must also lead us to a more sober and dispassionate discussion of all the issues involved. We believe that the Supreme Court will not allow House Resolution 1109 to be implemented and thereafter, the discussion on Charter Change can be pursued without duress or haste,” said Gordon.

The senator is opposed to House Resolution 1109, which dilutes and virtually negates the participation of the Senate in amending the Constitution. The resolution calls on the members of Congress to convene for the purpose of considering proposals to amend or revise the Constitution, upon a vote of three-fourths of all the members of Congress.

Article XVII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution provides that any amendment to - or revision of - the Constitution may be proposed by the Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members.

“This constitutional provision should not be misconstrued as a provision where both Houses of Congress vote jointly. The Constitution, the fundamental law of our land, is very clear as when Congress may vote jointly, and this does not include Charter change,” said Gordon.

He stressed further that Charter change must be pursued in an atmosphere where there can be no suspicion that it will be used as a vehicle to protect or promote political interests.

“Charter Change must be done right - at the proper time, definitely after the May 2010 elections; for the right reasons, that is, for national interest, not personal and vested interests; and within the legal means under the Constitution,” said Gordon.(30/prf)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gordon proposes condonation of penalties for employers with SSS delinquencies

Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) sought the Senate’s immediate action on the measure that would authorize the condonation of penalties on delinquent contributions to the Social Security System (SSS).

Gordon said the implementation of a one-time condonation program of contribution penalties not only represents an opportunity to expeditiously settle contribution delinquencies, but also paves the way for resumption of members’ entitlement to benefits and loan privileges.

“The SSS requires a certain number of contributions before benefits may be availed of. If his employer were delinquent in the payment of contributions, the worker would be denied of the said benefit,” he said.

Records of the SSS show that as of June 2007, there are 287,631 employers who are delinquent in the payment of the mandatory contributions. These figures translate to a total delinquency of P14.6-billion.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises, said that the SSS Charter provides the legal mechanism and procedure to collect such delinquent accounts from non-complying employers. The law imposes a penalty of three percent per month until the delinquent account is paid in full.

He added that in many cases, accumulated penalties of employers already surpass the principal amount of obligation, thereby making it difficult for many employers to settle their delinquencies.

In response, Gordon filed Senate Bill 2454, which would authorize the condonation of penalties on delinquent social security contributions.

As a condition, the employer must submit the corresponding collection list and pay the principal obligation either in full, within a period of 12 months, or in installment, within a period of six months, from the effectivity of the Act.

“A contribution delinquency condonation program will facilitate and hasten the extra-judicial settlement of past due contributions from delinquent employers,” Gordon said.

“This measure offers a reprieve to thousands of employers facing financial difficulties, while enabling their employees to resume their entitlement benefits and loans,” he added.

The SSS has twice implemented condonation programs on penalties for contribution delinquencies in 1987 and 1997. By the end of the second program in 1997, the SSS was able to collect P859-million in delinquent contributions. (30/tgp)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gordon: Civilians should be prioritized over military men on ambassadorial posts

Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today said that the government should give priority to career officers over military men in appointing ambassadors who would represent our country abroad.

Gordon, member of the Commission on Appointments (CA), said that while military men are qualified to represent the country, there are many career officers who are equally qualified to hold ambassadorial positions.

“While I agree that military men are qualified to represent our country, nonetheless, the others who are equally qualified in the civilian bureaucracy must be considered first. They must be given priority over the retired military officials,” he said.

During the CA hearing on Wednesday, Gordon said he wants to review the records of former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff (Ret.) General Alexander Yano before he decides whether to vote for or against the retired general’s confirmation of his appointment as ambassador to Brunei Darussalam.

“I nominated for his (Yano) confirmation as AFP chief of staff. But this time I am questioning the policy which affects the fitness and qualifications of Gen. Yano because it smacks of accommodation, it defeats meritocracy, and demoralizes the bureaucracy,” Gordon said.

The senator explained that when ambassadorial posts are given to retired military generals rather than to career officers, it demoralizes the civilian bureaucracy and makes the military feel that they are entitled to rewards. (30/tgp)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Gordon lauds passage of IHL bill on third reading

Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today hailed the Senate’s passage on third reading of the measure codifying international humanitarian law (IHL) within the country’s legal system.

Gordon, author and sponsor of Senate Bill 2669, said the measure defines and penalizes crimes against international humanitarian law and other serious international crimes, keep our guard up operationalizing universal jurisdiction, and designating special courts.

“This measure is a symbolic gesture of our continuing adherence and strong commitment to IHL. But above symbolisms, our goal is to end impunity and penalize crimes against international humanitarian law,” he said.

Gordon also lauded the approval on the committee level of the House version of the bill as he urged members of the House of Representative to immediately pass the measure on second and third readings.

“There is a need to codify international crimes within the domestic legal system to ensure that those who commit war crimes, genocide, and other crimes against humanity are not afforded impunity for their acts,” he said.

The IHL is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, a limit to the effects of armed conflict such that persons who are not or are no longer participating in hostilities are protected and the means and methods of warfare are restricted.

The core of SB 2669 seeks to define three international crimes, namely war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, and to impose imprisonment depending on the gravity of the crime committed.

War crimes are acts committed in a situation of armed conflict and against a person not taking part, or no longer taking part, in the hostilities.

In international armed conflict, war crimes include willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment and willfully causing great injury. In non-international armed conflict the criminal acts include violence to life and person, outrages upon personal dignity and taking of hostages.

Crimes against humanity are acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, such as murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, enforced disappearance, among others.

In genocide, the primary element is that the act is committed with the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

“SB 2669 will ensure that there are no havens for perpetrators of serious crimes of concern to the international community, by providing for their prosecution in the domestic courts,” Gordon said.

“The bill also provides that Philippine courts shall take additional measures to protect the safety, physical and psychological well-being, dignity and privacy of victims and witnesses,” he added.

Gordon said the bill also introduces into the country’s penal system principles of criminal responsibility unique to the prosecution of international crimes such as command responsibility, non-prescription of crimes and irrelevance of official capacity.

In command responsibility, a superior is held responsible if he has done nothing to prevent a subordinate from committing a violation of IHL.

Prescription will not apply, especially in view of the gravity of certain violations that run counter to the interests of the international community as a whole, because the repression of serious violations of IHL is essential to ensuring respect for this branch of law. (30/tgp)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Gordon proposes addition of ninth ray to RP flag’s sun

Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today reiterated his proposal to add a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag, which would symbolize the Muslims who fought against foreign invaders, as the nation celebrates National Flag Day on May 28.

“Our national flag not only represents principles of sovereignty and solidarity of the Philippine nation, but also embodies the ideals and traditions of the Filipino people developed over the course of national history,” he said.

Gordon said the Philippine flag symbolizes the nation’s struggle for independence and victory against foreign colonizers.

The three stars in the flag represent the three major geographical divisions of the country: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao; while the eight rays of the sun represent the eight provinces that revolted against the Spanish regime, namely: Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Tarlac.

Gordon said that behind the stories of the most celebrated names of national heroes, who fought for our independence, lie the stories of our mostly-forgotten Muslim heroes, including Lapu-Lapu, Sultan Kudarat and Rajah Sulayman, who displayed courage, bravery and integrity.

The senator explained that it is for this reason that he proposed to add a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag to acknowledge the courage, bravery and integrity of Muslim Filipinos who fought for the nation’s independence.

“With their courage, bravery and integrity, our Muslim heroes left an imprint on national history that, at the very least, must be given due recognition in the most heraldic item of national importance—the Philippine flag,” he said.

Gordon authored Senate Bill 2590, which proposes that the rays of the sun on the Philippine flag be increased from eight to nine, to symbolize the community of Muslim leaders who defended the country from foreign invasion.

He said that it is important to recognize the efforts and contributions of the Filipino Muslims in the country’s history so that they would not feel marginalized and Filipinos would be united regardless of creed.

“By adding a ninth ray in the sun to represent our Muslim brothers, I think we make ourselves one with them. They are the Filipinos who were very successful in thwarting colonialism in our country,” Gordon said. (30/tgp)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Vigilance needed for 2010 poll automation preparations - Gordon

Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today called for perpetual vigilance from all stakeholders and the public; as well as meticulous adherence to the timetable of preparations to ensure that the automation of the May 2010 presidential election is implemented.

Gordon, father of election modernization in the Philippines, made the call as he expressed optimism that today’s demonstration by the “single complying calculated bid” signifies that the preparations are finally taking off.

“That is a welcome development because it raises hope that the Filipinos’ cherished dream of having automated elections is getting closer to being turned into a reality next year,” he said.

“But we still have to be perpetually vigilant despite the transparency showed by the Comelec (Commission on Elections) in conducting the bidding to ensure that nothing will impede the attainment of this dream,” he added.

The Comelec-Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) has announced that the consortium of Smartmatic International and Total Information Management Corp. (Smartmatic-TIM) had “the single complying calculated bid” for the contract to automate the 2010 polls.

The SBAC ordered Smartmatic-TIM, which submitted a bid of P7.2 billion, to undergo post-qualification proceedings immediately and that its machines be forthwith tested to determine compliance with the criteria set for one worthy of this historic leap in Philippine elections.

But it stressed that the announcement was made without prejudice to the consortium of AMA Group Holdings and Elections Systems and Software International (AMA-ES&S), which is expected to file a motion for reconsideration of its bid.

The Comelec is hopeful that the declaration of the firms with the complying bids would get its preparation back on schedule because it would hasten the bidding process that has been delayed by two weeks.

Gordon, author of Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the amended Automated Elections Law, urged observers to remain watchful during the demonstration to ensure that the system requirements prescribed by the law are strictly complied with.

“The law stipulated system requirements that act as safeguards to make automation work. Nevertheless, we need to keep our guard up to ensure that these requirements are rigidly met,” he said. (30/lap)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gordon: Surveys on candidates should be kept private to prevent mind conditioning

Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today said that political surveys should only serve as a guide for candidates and therefore should be kept private to prevent undue conditioning of people’s minds.

Gordon said the main purpose of surveys, particularly those about how well political candidates are doing, is to help aspirants decide for their political careers.

“Surveys must be used as a guide for candidates to inform them privately on where they are strong or where they are weak, or what issues they need to engage in or what platforms they need to embark on,” he said.

The senator added that since there is a cost involved in subscribing or sponsoring surveys, the results of such polls should not be used to massage the minds of the people or to create a bandwagon effect on the electorate.

“People who can subscribe or sponsor surveys should not be allowed to use survey results to get more money and support for their candidacies simply because they are ranking very high on these polls,” Gordon said.

He also cautioned the public on their basis in choosing the next leaders of the country, stressing that the qualifications of a candidate should be the primary consideration in deciding for the nation’s future officials.

Gordon said every vote is precious, which is why it is important that people use their right of suffrage wisely. The electorate should know every candidate’s position on issues crucial to the nation’s progress and development.

“We must be able to discern well for the common good of our nation. If we believe in a candidate’s qualifications and track record, we should vote for that candidate and not let others influence us,” he said.

“Election is not about popularity or money. It is about the careful choosing of our nation’s next leaders who should have clear vision, right values, track record, competence and integrity,” he added. (30/tgp)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Give poll automation a chance instead of derailing it – Gordon

Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today called on detractors of the planned automation of the May 2010 presidential elections to stop inciting public distrust against automation by casting doubts about its feasibility.
Gordon, father of election modernization in the Philippines, made the call in the wake of a bill reportedly filed in the House of Representatives on succession to the presidency to foreclose the possibility of a vacancy in case of failure of elections and terrorist attack, among others.
“Papaano tayo magkakaroon ng demokrasya kung hindi natin aayusin ang ating pagboto? Why don’t we give automation a chance? Ang mindset kasi natin, hindi pa tayo nagsisimula tinatali na natin ang ating sarili,” he said.
“Yun ang gusto kong baguhin sa ating bayan. We have to break down the walls in our minds that were erected by the foreign colonizers which prevent us from having confidence in our capabilities,” he added.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has embarked on preparations to implement a nationwide automation of next year’s elections, as mandated by Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the amended Automated Elections System that the senator authored.
The Comelec is in the process of selecting the company that would provide the automation technology and is looking towards announcing the winning bidder before the end of the month.
But some sectors have been trying to derail the preparations, casting doubts on the poll body’s capability to implement a nationwide automated election next year.
Members of the House of Representatives warned that the possibility of a failure of elections in May next year has become real in view of the difficulties that the Comelec is encountering.
Fears of a no-election scenario arose after the Comelec Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) initially disqualified all seven bidders for failing to meet certain eligibility requirements.
“Maraming duda eh tapos na. Pinaghirapan namin ng apat na taon sa Kongreso yan. Bakit ngayon sasabihin hindi na naman kaya. Yun ang sakit natin. Hindi natin magawa-gawa yung dapat nating gawin pagkat duda tayo ng duda,” Gordon lamented. (30/lap)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gordon vows to remain independent on Senate investigation vs Villar

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today vowed that he would remain impartial in the ongoing probe of the Senate committee of the whole on the complaint filed against Sen. Manny Villar for the alleged double budget insertion in the C-5 road extension project.

“I would like to manifest that I am going to vote independently, fairly and firmly on this matter. There is no bias on my part on this hearing,” he said.

Gordon, vice-chairman of the Senate ethics committee, said it is unfair that he and other members of the panel are being accused of using the complaint against Villar to their political advantage.

“I would just like to make it clear that even before we convened into the committee of the whole, the Senate ethics committee has given Sen. Villar the chance to defend himself,” he said.

“I even heard him say that he is not afraid to face any inquiry here at the Senate. But his actions are different from what he says. He does not attend the hearings or inquiries on the case against him,” he added.

Gordon explained that the ethics panel was never remiss in its duty to keep the hearings fair to all senators facing charges before the committee.

He stressed that they even manifested that there should be a member of the Senate minority in the ethics panel to further ensure impartiality in the hearings and proceedings of the committee.

“The members of the ethics panel manifested that the minority should have a representative in the committee. We have given them the chance. I want to make that very, very clear so that we would not be accused of using the Senate for whatever personal or political gains,” Gordon said.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fortify law and order to end political killings—Gordon

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today said that strengthening the country's law enforcement system is more effective, rather than putting up a reward system, in resolving the problem of extrajudicial killings.

Gordon's statement came following President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's call on lawmakers to use part of their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) to help raise P25-million, which will be used to fund a reward system for informants who could foil political killings or lead to the arrest of masterminds.

"While efforts to address the culture of impunity are always welcome, such efforts should be well considered in order to be effective. The high incidence of extrajudicial killings in the country reflects the weakening of our law enforcement and prosecutorial institutions," he said.

Gordon, noting that the government already created Task Force Usig and the Melo Commission to put a stop to political killings, said that more than putting up a reward system, what the country needs is to fortify law and order.

He explained that the country's police force should be strengthened by having police investigators undergo advanced trainings in obtaining pieces of evidence and on the proper conduct of criminal investigations.

"Our police force should improve their criminal investigation techniques and use intelligence funds to identify organized crimes in the country, perpetrators of assassinations and gun-for-hire syndicates," Gordon said.

He added that putting up a reward system would give incentives to people who, often only by accident, present an opportunity to help in the prosecution of suspects but not in the prevention of crimes.

"Rewarding informants will affect only the percentage of crimes solved but will not automatically lead to a decrease in the incidence of crimes. The fund should instead be used to equip and train our police and military," Gordon said.

The senator also said that the government should be more cautious in the use of financial resources because the fund could be more useful for many other important and immediate needs of the citizens.

"We need to be judicious in allocating scarce government funds especially at this time of financial turmoil. P250,000 taken from the priority development assistance fund of every member of Congress may spell life and death for a constituent in need," he said. (30)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Keep your guard up to ensure transparency in poll bidding - Gordon

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today called on official observers to ensure transparency of the public bidding for an automated election system to guarantee the success of the May 2010 automated presidential elections.


Gordon, author of Republic Act 9369 (RA 9369), made the call as the Commission on Elections Special Bids and Awards Committee (Comelec-SBAC) started the opening of bids for the automation.


"At first glance, the Comelec's bidding process appears to be transparent and organized. The official observers are given copies of the documents submitted, which can be seen through a projector by members of the media and other stakeholders observing the proceedings," he said.


"However, the Comelec has yet to choose the winning bidder. And until it does, we must not let our guard down if we want to ensure that the automation pushes through successfully and the preparations proceed according to the poll body's timetable," he added.


The official observers were the Commission on Audit (COA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Office of the Ombudsman, United States Embassy, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), Consortium on Electoral Reforms, Procurement Watch, Inc. and the Transparency and Accountability Network.


The poll body is preparing for the full automation of the 2010 elections mandated by RA 9369 or the Amended Automated Elections Systems Law, which was pilot-tested in the Aug. 2008 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).


A week before the ARMM elections, Gordon personally went to Camp Darapanan in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan to talk with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Central Committee.


He went to there to convince the MILF that the ARMM election should not be postponed because there is a larger interest to be considered, that is the full automation of the 2010 elections.


During the election, the senator visited voting centers in Shari Aguak in Maguindanao, in Datu Odin Sinsuat in Shariff Kabunsuan and canvassing Centers in Cotabato City, also in Shariff Kabunsuan, to observe and ensure the successful conduct of the automated elections.


The opening of bids, originally set for April 27, was held on May 4 at the Comelec head office in Intramuros, Manila. Seven out of ten bidders, who paid P1 million for the Terms of Reference (TOR), tendered their bid for the poll automation project. The SBAC opened the first bid, which was that of Avante International Technology, Inc. The committee went over the documents that the group submitted. It checked the documents one-by-one, to determine if the consortium complied with all documentary requirements.


However, the group was later disqualified for failing to submit the last two pages of its proposed contract and certificate of acceptance. Gordon underscored anew that a credible election system will restore people's trust and confidence not only in the country's electoral process, but also in the government.


"This will be a lasting legacy for future generations. A fully automated elections will lead us to the reality of our dream of having credible leaders voted through a credible system of election," he said.


"The Comelec will greatly benefit from the poll automation because once the election is fully automated, the poll body would regain its credibility as an independent poll body and it can have its hand on other election-related matters, apart from electoral protests," he added.


Disaster preparedness measures key to survival against calamities—Gordon

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today reiterated his call for the establishment of disaster preparedness and mitigation measures to enhance the survival capability of the country against all types of disasters.


Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), made the call as the latest typhoon, "Dante", to hit the country left at least 23 people dead and 10,137 families displaced in the Bicol Region, particularly in Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.


"We have to end the cycle of disaster damage. We already know that every year an average of 20 typhoons hit the country and yet we still lack the necessary preparations to lessen or avert damages brought by these typhoons," he said.


"These disasters usually result in loss of life, human suffering, loss of income, and property loss and damage. Measures designed towards disaster preparedness and mitigation and emergency services are, therefore, necessary," he added.


Gordon, one of the authors of Senate Bill 3086, an Act strengthening Philippine disaster risk management capability, stressed the importance of crafting disaster preparedness and mitigation measures so that not only the government, but also the public know what to do in times of calamities.


According to the latest forecast of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) another tropical storm, which would be given the local name "Emong", might soon enter the Philippine area of responsibility.


"If we have readied disaster mitigation measures we can easily organize local officials, volunteers and the public, especially those in typhoon-prone areas, to be prepared so that when disasters come, they can already help themselves and their neighbors because they know what to do," Gordon said.


The PNRC, under Gordon's leadership, has formed the Red Cross 143. It is a program that seeks to form a group of 44 volunteers in every barangay. They will serve as the eyes, ears, hands and feet of the Red Cross in every community.


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


The PNRC continuously upgrades and acquires its equipment, including ambulances, fire trucks and rubber boats, to respond quickly to more victims of disasters and calamities.


During its 62nd anniversary last April 15, the PNRC distributed new Emergency Response Units, including 32 ambulances, 10 fire trucks and four motorcycle ambulances to its local chapters across the country.(30)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gordon commends Pineda for personifying the success of the Global Filipino


Taking pride on the talents and achievements of Filipinos here and abroad, Independent Senator Richard Gordon today commended Arnel Pineda, the Filipino lead singer of an American rock band Journey, for exemplifying the international success of the Filipino.


Gordon, chairman of the Senate tourism committee, filed Senate Resolution 1039 which commends Pineda's achievements and exhorts his talents that inspired national pride and personified the success of the Global Filipino.


"Arnel Pineda is an inspiration to many Filipinos, a man who triumphed not only in singing competitions, but against hardship and adversity, through hardwork and with full faith in his talents and capabilities," he said.


Pineda rose from obscurity to international fame by believing in himself and his talent. When his mother passed away when he was 12 years old, his family became heavily indebted and led him to the streets to fend for himself for years.


He had to quit school and help his father by collecting glass bottles, newspapers, and scrap metal and selling them to recyclers, even as he took on odd jobs, like cleaning scrap metal and docked ships.


The hard and trying times pushed Pineda to pursue his dream so that, at the age of 40, after singing with different bands in the Philippines and Hong Kong, he was discovered by the lead guitarist, Neal Schon, of Journey.


Journey's first album produced with Pineda as the lead singer, "Revelation", debuted at No. 5 in the Billboard Top 200 album charts in the week following its release and achieved platinum status by October 1, 2008.


"Arnel is a good example of how Filipinos should face challenges in life. He used his talent and strived hard to achieve his dream. He has become a renowned singer and has brought pride and honor for our nation," Gordon said. (30/tgp)




Gordon urges Filipino bloggers and users of social networking sites to promote new Philippine tourist destinations


Buoyed by the success of the international publicity given to Philippine tourist destinations by the New Seven Wonders of the World's online campaign, Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon is hoping the Filipino blogging community will support a call to help discover and promote new Philippine destinations.


Gordon, chairman of the Senate tourism committee, issued the call as the Tourism Act of 2009 expected to be signed into law by President Arroyo on May 12 will further reinvigorate the country's tourism industry.

"Bloggers are basically volunteers who share their ideas and a good number of them are quite effective at moving their readers into action.  One cause I personally want to enlist their support for is the cause of discovering and promoting new Filipino tourist destinations," he said.

According to him, the Tourism Act of 2009 which he authored will enable the country to develop new tourist destinations that will be needed when more intensive tourist promotions take place. 


He said the challenge is to create options that are just as good, if not better, than the stars of Philippine tourism, like Boracay, Dos Palmas, Bohol , and other destinations.


"Our country needs to create a buzz about Philippine tourist destinations..  It is time to show the pride of one's country because we indeed have a beautiful country with a great history, culture and most importantly, with great people," said Gordon.


Gordon, former tourism secretary, pointed out that he envisions the creation of an internet phenomenon, like the tourism promotion strategy of Australia , where they advertised a website with the claim of 'The best job in the world'. 


He pointed out that it drew millions of hits a day until the website bogged down because of the traffic generated.


The senator himself confesses to browsing a few blogs which include,,, and a few others that he chances upon when he googles himself.


Gordon said that even avid users of social networking sites such Facebook, Multiply, and Friendster can help in promoting the Philippine tourism buzz by coming up with status updates, photo stories, and links to information on yet undiscovered Filipino tourism destinations.


"You can tell your friends and relatives that you are helping promote Philippine tourism.  Together with some leaders in the tourism industry, we might even put up a cause on Facebook for new Philippine tourist destinations.  I hope more people join and help us out," said Gordon.


The senator said he frequently checks on the status updates of his Facebook friends, which include other politicians, businessmen, and high school buddies. (30/prf)


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gordon underscores need for more health-related R&D

In the wake of fears that the current deadly swine influenza breakout in several countries will take pandemic proportion, Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today underscored the urgency of a stronger research and development (R&D) system in the country.


Gordon, author of Senate Bill 3080 or the Philippine National Health Research System Act, pointed out that there is a real need to strengthen the country's R&D system to prepare against potential danger of viruses that could transfer from animals to humans, such as the swine flu.


"The health research and development system in our country is not that effective. Every time epidemics break out, we cannot take preparations immediately because we have to wait for information from the World Health Organization (WHO)," he said.


"If we have a strong R&D system, we can make our own research and prepare for potential risks ahead of time. This way, we will be able to soften the impact should the virus causing an epidemic manages to enter the country," he added.


WHO recently raised an international alert as the swine influenza virus threatens to take pandemic proportion with more than 100 people reportedly suspected to have died of the disease in Mexico. Swine flu cases were also reported in the US, Canada and some parts of Europe.


Gordon earlier filed SB 3080 which proposes to institutionalize the Philippine National Health Research System (PNRHS) and create the Philippine National Health Research Fund (PNHRF).


The bill aims to produce knowledge through research; develop a national and global network of researchers, research organizations, and other members of the health research community; and to secure sustainable financing for health research and development.


It also aims to ensure public access to the information and other outputs generated by the health research systems; and encourage the utilization of research results in the form of products, technologies, programs and services; among others.


Gordon pointed out that strengthening the country's R&D system will ensure optimum health care for every Filipino and will address the problem of access to health care system, especially among the poor, still being hampered by financial, physical, social and cultural barriers.


"To help achieve the country's vision of universal primary health care services, it is not enough to be contented with the present capacity of the country's health care system," he said.


"The country must provide for a favorable research environment wherein government agencies, non-government agencies, public and private hospitals, academic institutions and private agencies can optimize their research activities," he added. (30)


Conquer the world with Philippine tourism, Gordon challenges tourism grads

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon has challenged this year's tourism graduates to conquer the world with Philippine tourism by turning it into the number one industry in the country despite the economic crisis challenging the world today.


Gordon, chief author of the proposed Tourism Act of 2009, issued the challenge as he addressed the 2009 graduating class of the University of the Philippines-Asian Institute of Tourism (UP-AIT), Diliman, Quezon City.


"Despite the financial crisis challenging the globe today, tourism remains to be the best industry in the world. In other countries, tourism has not gone down but it is not consistent in the Philippines ," he said.


"As you graduate today, I congratulate you for making a good choice. But I urge you all to go out there, create the best opportunities for yourselves and make tourism the number one industry in our country. Philippines will flourish if the tourism industry will be strengthened," he added.


The proposed Tourism Act of 2009 that Gordon authored will enable the country to compete with tourism giants such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. President Arroyo is scheduled to sign it into law on May 12.


During his stint as tourism secretary, there was a resurgence of Philippine tourism in 2003, when foreign tourist arrivals reached 2 million a year from a low of under 1 million in 2001, due to his painstaking efforts to promote Philippine tourism abroad such as the WOW Philippines.


Aside from bringing much-needed revenue for the national government, the influx of tourists also created jobs for the people and drew investors into the country.


In Subic alone, tourists visit the province on a regular basis and various multinational companies have set up branches inside the former US military facility. During the Holy Week this year alone, a total of 175,936 tourists arrived, raising the hotel occupancy rates in 20 hotels and housing operators to 99.5 percent.


Gordon, outgoing chairman of the Senate tourism committee, welcomed the UP-AIT's pledge to support the efforts that the government will undertake to improve the industry once the proposed act is passed into law.


"We need to improve our tourism industry in order to put our country in the map of global tourism. The proposed tourism act the President is set to sign into law early next month will develop the industry here in the Philippines. We welcome all the help and support that we can get when we implement this law," he said. (30)


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Put up ‘ladders of opportunities’ for Filipino workers, Gordon tells business leaders


Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today urged employers' group to put up ladders of opportunities for their workers in order to uplift them instead of just opening doors of employment despite the economic crisis challenging the globe.


Speaking at the 30th National Conference of Employers (NCE) in Manila Hotel, Gordon said businesses should be given a boost and the labor sector uplifted to enable the country to battle with the potential onslaught of the current global crisis.


"The crisis is not just today. It has been going on for decades. And we just accept it, we became impassive, we became mere spectators. Today, if you look at our country, I think we are going backwards, like going down in an escalator ride," he said.


"Business should really be propped up first if we want to expand our country so that they can create more jobs. If there are more jobs, people have more work, they can save, invest and become prosperous and become entrepreneurs," he added.


Gordon was welcomed by the country's top business leaders led by Employers' Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) chairman Miguel Varela, president Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., Ancheta Tan, Donald Dee, Rene Soriano, and Aniano Bagabaldo, among others.


The NCE, organized by ECOP, took the theme, "The Global Crisis: Our Response" for this year's event.


The conference aims to look into survival and growth measures required to sustain jobs and businesses amidst the worldwide financial crisis and flesh out needed structural reforms to push the country above the gloom pervading the global economy.


It also aims to define steps for employers to take to ensure business survival and economic growth.


Gordon, head of the Philippine National Red Cross, the country's largest and oldest humanitarian organization today, said employers should define the country positively so that it would develop and churn out once more citizens who have the heart to compete with the rest of the best of the world.


"When you define our country, define it with values. Define it as a volunteer country, as a person who is caring, compassionate, a humanitarian. Define it as a confident country, educated. Define it as a competitive country, liberal, tolerant, transformational and a secure and successful country. Not a victim, but one that is always successful in its efforts," he said.


"If you have done so, you will have a country, whose citizens are strong, whose citizens believe and use it to make others believe that the Philippines is not just worth dying for but worth living for," he added.


The senator pointed out that Filipinos should "break down the walls in their minds" in order to be the best that they can be and find a brighter future.


"We must now remove those walls erected in our minds. The quest for Bagumbayan must persist, must remain. I think we can do even greater things still. Be assertive. The world will step aside for someone who knows where he is going," he said. (30)

Seize our place in history, Gordon tells Bagumbayan volunteers


Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon told delegates of the Bagumbayan – Volunteers for a New Philippines to seize our place in history by bringing about genuine change the country seriously needs.


Gordon made the call at the Grand Launching and National Convention of the Bagumbayan Movement-Volunteers for a New Philippines in the Manila Hotel, which was attended by about 2,000 delegates from all over the country.


"It is time to put history back into our politics so that our politics will once again be lofty. Mataas ang pulitika, may prinsipyo ang pulitika, may kasaysayan ang pulitika," he said to the cheers of the delegates and volunteers who gathered at the launching.


"We can change our country if only we look at our past and learn from our history. Change has already been proven in this country. Change has been proven by Jose Rizal and Lapu-Lapu," he added.


Gordon explained that sincere change has become elusive in the country because the nation has forgotten the lessons of history and the heroes who have exemplified good work ethic and showed the dignity of hard work.


To effectively transform society, he explained that genuine change must start from within a person and they should not allow anybody tell them that change -- no matter how great or small --  cannot be done.


He added that vision, values and volunteerism are the tools necessary to transform the nation into a New Philippines, a Bagumbayan.


"Kusang-loob, malasakit at kapwa-tao, these are the hallmarks that make a country great. Vision plus values plus volunteerism equals national victory and national liberation. That is what Bagumbayan must stand for," Gordon said.


As mayor of Olongapo, Gordon was widely credited for implementing programs that were in line with his vision for transformational politics and was able to remove from Olongapo the stigma of being a " Sin City ".


He managed to turn Olongapo into a " Model City " with many of his programs copied by other local government units nationwide.


Later on, he was appointed chairman and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) where he transformed the military facility the American troops abandoned into an international Freeport .


As tourism secretary in 2003, Gordon led the reinvigoration of Philippine tourism that resulted in the foreign tourist arrivals to 2 million a year from a low of 1 million in 2001, due to his efforts to promote Philippine tourism abroad, notably the WOW Philippines .


Aside from bringing much-needed revenue for the national government, the influx of foreign and local tourists also created jobs and drew investors into the country.


As a Senator, Gordon likewise laid the groundwork for the countries transformation through the laws he authored, most notably the amended Automated Elections System Law which would put an end to wholesale vote manipulation. (30)


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gordon calls on Filipinos to honor Lapu-Lapu’s heroism



Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today called on the nation to commemorate Lapu-Lapu's heroism as the historic Battle of Mactan marks its 488th anniversary on April 27.


Gordon said that Lapu-Lapu, known as the first successful defender of Philippine shores against colonial invaders, should be given due recognition for exhibiting courage and resisting to be placed under foreign rule.


"In a week's time we will be commemorating the 488th anniversary of the Battle of Mactan led by Lapu-Lapu. We should all prepare to celebrate this event which is the first victory of our nation against foreign oppressors," he said.


"Lapu-Lapu is the first Filipino native who resisted foreign rule and fought against colonial invaders. He did not allow them to put up walls in his mind. Instead, he led his men to fight for their sovereignty," he added.


Lapu-Lapu was the king of Mactan who refused to submit to the rule of the Spanish invaders. Ferdinand Magellan, the leader of the Spanish expedition who arrived in the islands, then sent a party of sailors to Mactan to burn villages on the island.


However, instead of giving up, the Mactan chief, together with his men who were armed with spears, faced Spanish soldiers led by Magellan who was wearing armor from his head to his knees. Victory was on the side of the natives. It happened on April 27, 1521.


As a fitting tribute to the courage displayed by Lapu-Lapu and his men in the Battle of Mactan, Gordon filed Senate Bill 2162, declaring April 27 as a national holiday to commemorate the said victory.


"Lapu-Lapu is personified in our national anthem by the verse 'sa manlulupig di ka pasisiil' and makes us proud to be Asia's first to defeat a foreign invader," Gordon said.


"He had strong principles and possessed the qualities of courage, bravery, strength, honor, and integrity, which should be emulated by every Filipino so that we can break the walls of apathy and cynicism in our minds that were built by our colonial past," he added.


When he was tourism secretary, Gordon fought for the construction of the Lapu-Lapu statue at the Luneta, which the senator prefers to call by its original name Bagumbayan.


The 40-foot statue of the first Filipino hero was donated by members of the Korean Freedom League as a gift to the Filipino people in recognition of Filipino soldiers who had come to their country's aid and gave their lives during the Korean War. (30)


Gordon unveils Vinzons’ bust at UP Diliman


Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon led the unveiling ceremony for the bust of Wenceslao I. Vinzons at the Vinzons Hall in UP Diliman.


Gordon called Vinzons his idol and a true hero of the Philippine Republic.


"It moves me sometimes that very few of those truly deserving to be called a hero have their deeds lost and causes forgotten.  In unveiling this likeness of Wenceslao Vinzons, we hope to begin the re-telling of his life and how he died defending the country which too many of us take for granted," said Gordon.


Vinzons was a student leader and editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian and chairman of the UP Student Council in the 1930s.  Like Gordon, he became the youngest delegate of the Constitutional Convention of 1934.


Vinzons was among the first Filipinos to organize the guerrilla resistance after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1941. After having killed more than 3,000 of their troops, Vinzons was betrayed by a guerilla-turned-informant and was seized by the Japanese military together with his father on July 8, 1942.


He refused to pledge allegiance to his captors, and was brought to a garrison in Daet. It was there, on July 15, 1942, that Vinzons was bayoneted to death after refusing to cooperate with the Japanese forces. Shortly thereafter, his father, wife, sister and two of his children were also executed by the Japanese.


"Unlike others during the Japanese Occupation, Vinzons did not capitulate or bow down to the foreign power that laid siege to our country," Gordon said. 


"Others were only too willing to make friends with the enemy if only to secure their wealth or to gain wealth.  Vinzons gave up his life, the only thing he truly owned, in the fight to keep his mother Philippines free," he added.


The bust unveiled at the Vinzon's hall was created by sculptor Juan Sajid Imao, a 2001 TOYM Awardee and a UP Alumnus himself.


Apart from the bust, Gordon has also filed a resolution supporting the centennial celebration of Vinzons' natal anniversary. (30)


Gordon wants to restore Luneta’s old name to Bagumbayan


Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon reiterated his proposal seeking to restore Luneta's original name—Bagumbayan—to correct what he believes may be a historical sleight of Spanish colonizers in the Philippines. 


As a student of history and government, Gordon pointed out that some accounts say that the park was named "Luneta", which means "little moon", because it was said to be shaped like a half moon in Spanish times.


However, the senator contends that to get at the real meaning of the names given to places, one must take into account what the place was used for and what historical events were situated there.


"The place the Spanish called Luneta served as the execution site of our people and its soil was red with their blood.  This is where the Spanish colonizers sought to quell our early struggles for freedom, which they described as lunacy," Gordon said.


"It is just as likely that the Spanish named Luneta for being the place where they executed those whom they called lunatics for leading a revolution against Spain – hence, Luneta," he added.


The senator said that unknowingly, all Presidents who have been sworn to an oath of office were swearing on the grounds pejoratively named by former colonial masters.


"In swearing an oath here, our Presidents may be swearing themselves to lunacy.  We should correct this and return the name of Luneta to its original Filipino given name of Bagumbayan," Gordon said.


He explained that written in the pages of the country's history are significant events of heroism and unwavering love for the nation that transpired in Luneta. The most prominent is the execution of Jose Rizal on December 30, 1986.


It also the place where Filipino priests Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora (Gomburza) were executed on February 17, 1872 by Spanish colonial authorities on trumped-up charges of subversion arising from the 1872 Cavite mutiny.


Official ceremonies proclaiming a fully-independent Republic of the Philippines were held on this site on July 4, 1946. The highlights of the event were the simultaneous lowering of the American Flag and raising of the Philippine flag to the tune of both nations' national anthems. (30)