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)

We are a nation of heroes – Gordon


The Philippines is a nation of heroes, Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today said as he urged the Filipino people to take pride and inspiration from their heroism wherever and whenever they are in the country or elsewhere around the world.


Gordon made the exhortation as he led the unveiling ceremony of Wenceslao Q. Vinzons' bust held at the Vinzons Hall of the University of the Philippines, Quezon City attended by the UP student council and administration officials.


"It is sad and unfortunate if we allow stories about the great sacrifices of our heroes to be buried into the pages of oblivion. The tapestry of our country must be painted by the brave and courageous sacrifices of our heroes and their stories must be passed on from one generation to the next," he said.


"If we want to move our country in the right direction, we have to look back at our rich history as a nation and as a people, for then and only then can we ably declare that we have conquered our future," he added.


Gordon, chairman of the Senate tourism committee, has earlier filed a resolution in the Senate calling on different government units to prepare for the nationwide centennial celebration of Vinzons' natal anniversary on Sept. 28, 2010.


Vinzons, one of the country's most notable patriots during World War II (WWII), organized an armed resistance in the Bicol region against the Japanese invasion army and led a raid against a troop of Japanese soldiers in Basud, Camarines Norte.


Later on when Vinzons' forces grew to around 2,800 strong, he led these forces to successfully liberate the provincial capital of Daet, killing around 3,000 Japanese soldiers since their first attack which made his capture one of the primary objectives of the Japanese army.


Even as a student, Vinzons already showed exemplary leadership abilities when he became president of the UP Student Council and editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian.


He advocated the unification of Southeast Asian nations with a common Malay origin in his oratorical address entitled "Malaysia Irredenta," which won him the Manuel L. Quezon gold medal for excellence.


After passing the bar exams in 1932, Vinzons founded the Young Philippines Party which advocated the grant of Philippine independence from American rule.


Like Gordon, Vinzon was elected as the youngest delegate to the 1935 Constitutional Convention and became instrumental in prescribing Tagalog as an official language of the Philippines .


Gordon said it was regrettable that noble people in the course of history like Vinzons, who gave up their lives so the country would be free, have yet to be declared as National Heroes.


An official communication from the National Historical Institute (NHI) shows that in 1995, nine Filipino historical figures were selected to be declared as the first cluster of Filipino National Heroes. They are Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, and Apolinario Mabini.


The list also included Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Sultan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino and Gabriela Silang. Of the nine historical figures, three of them – Rizal, Bonifacio and Sultan Kudarat – are already decreed by law as National Heroes. (30)

Gordon commends CNN Hero ‘Kuya Ef’ and Co.


Independent Senator Richard Gordon today commended Efren "Kuya Ef" Peñaflorida Jr. and the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC) for their sincere and honest efforts of providing basic education to street children in their locality.


Gordon, a staunch advocate of Filipino volunteerism, made the commendation as he filed Senate Resolution 988 commending them "for championing the unschooled, labor-exploited, and neglected street children by providing access to basic education."


"It is in Efren and the DTC's work that we see a prime example of how ordinary citizens can band together and bring change to their lives.  We admire their work and support them in their endeavor," he said.


The DTC was founded by Peñaflorida with three other teenagers from Cavite National High school in August 1997.  The other founders are Jefferson Bernal, Mary Jane Causarin, and Rezcel Fajardo. 


The group started as a friendship club which aimed to divert the attention of students from joining violent gangs and notorious fraternities that were thriving on the campus.


In 2004, the group came out with project Kariton, Klasrum, at Klinik (K3). Pushcarts (kariton) were converted into a classroom with a library, chairs, tables, chalkboards, packed with school supplies and educational toys to be used in teaching.


"The fruits of the volunteers' labor are slowly being reaped, as former drug users, petty thieves and gang members who were reformed through their projects are now also serving as volunteers," Gordon said.


"Former scavengers are now in school and are helping to raise funds, and those who remained unschooled are now able to read and write," he added.


The group's K3 Outreach Program enabled them to grab a spot in the 2008 Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations.


More importantly, it has caught the attention of local and international media, including the Cable News Network (CNN) which named Peñaflorida among those nominated for the "CNN Heroes for 2009".


Apart from the K3, the DTC also implemented the "We are the Change" campaign to inspire people to be catalysts for change, believing that "real change happens when one begins to touch one soul and change one heart at a time."


Other projects established by the DTC includes Balik Skwela, Hygiene and Medican Mission, Interactive Support Group, LAKBAYAN (Likhang Awit Kabataan Para sa Bayan), Pangarap Na Pasko and Treat D'Street Kids. (30/prf)


Friday, April 17, 2009

Prepare well for ‘electoral greatness’ in 2010, Gordon asks Comelec

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to seize the country's quest towards electoral greatness by preparing well for a successful nationwide automation of the May 2010 presidential elections.


Gordon, author of Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the amended Automated Elections System Law, said there is so much at stake towards achieving electoral greatness and it rests upon the poll body to ensure that the poll automation goes smoothly.


"With poll automation underway, we have already won half the battle in the fight against wholesale poll cheating that has marred every election in this country," he said.


"Considering its (automation) importance, the Comelec should prepare and prepare well, make sure that it has all bases covered so as not to give poll manipulators even a minute chance to derail any part of the planned automation," he added.


Gordon made the call in the wake of reports that this early, political operators are already toying with strategies to sow confusion in the local races that could affect the outcome of the presidential, vice presidential and senatorial races.


RA 9369 called for the pilot testing of automated election systems in six cities and six provinces prior to its implementation in a national election - the next being the 2010 elections.


The automation of the 2008 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections pushed through and served as a litmus test for the country's capability to adapt to the election automation under RA 9369.


Local and international election observers hailed the success of the ARMM elections which indicated the people are ready for an automated election system to put an end to wholesale cheating that has marred past elections in the country.


Gordon called on non-government organizations, such as the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), to their share in ensuring that the country would make a historic shift in election management by serving as the people's "guiding light."


"Why don't we show light today? We will have automated elections in 2010, and we need to prepare and guide our people," he said.


The senator also stressed the necessity for a massive voters' education campaign that would ensure the failure of any attempts to sow confusion among the people which are aimed at preventing the implementation of a genuine electoral reform.


"We should have education campaign, and all should participate in that. We should try to test it (automated elections) in schools since this is going to be an automated election for the first time in the history of our country," he said. (30)

Be a volunteer for change—Gordon

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today called on the Filipino people to become volunteers not only to help the country rise from the challenges of the global economic crisis but also to effect genuine change in the society.


Gordon, who led more than 8,000 volunteers in 1992 to establish the Subic Bay Freeport, said that volunteerism is an effective tool for change as evidenced by the successful development in Olongapo City and in Subic.


"The positive experience of the people of Olongapo City regarding the conversion of the former Subic Naval Base into a self-sustaining industrial, commercial, financial and investment, tourism and recreation center is a sterling example of the feat that volunteerism can achieve," he said..


In enjoining the people to become volunteers, Gordon supported President Arroyo's order to create a National Service Corps, patterned after the United States Peace Corps, which will enlist the services of the youth.


Under the program, unemployed and underemployed skilled youth or college graduates will undergo a two-year training course on volunteer service focused on their contributions to education and community service programs.


Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, the country's largest and oldest humanitarian volunteer organization, said that the program would instill among the Filipino youth the spirit of volunteerism.


"It is important that we teach our youth the value of volunteerism to bring out in them the willingness to work for a cause and not just for compensation," he said.


"We in the PNRC have our programs for the youth wherein as young as elementary students undergo trainings that aim to develop or enhance the potentials of our young members to become good leaders and train them on how to administer basic first aid," he added.


Gordon has filed Senate Bill 144, also known as the Volunteer Act, which encourages volunteerism by providing volunteers the protection from liability and allowing the grant of incentives.


The measure seeks to protect volunteers that they may not be held liable for an act or omission within their scope of duties on behalf of the organization, unless the act or omission of the volunteer constitutes fraud, gross negligence, or crime.


The bill also allows the grant of incentives to volunteers in the form of insurance for injury, sickness, disability, or death of the volunteer during his or her incumbency in a non-profit organization or government entity. (30)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bagumbayan raises call transformational politics

In response to the serious and worsening problems facing the country, a 30,000-strong group of volunteers with members nationwide raised the call for Filipinos to rise up against politics as usual in the 2010 National and Local Elections.
“It is politics as usual that has gotten our country into the serious and worsening predicament it is in. We refer to transactional politics, one that knows nothing of right or wrong; it is politics that is animated by greed for money and lust for power,” said Leon ‘Porong’ Herrera, President of the 30,000 Bagumbayan Movement.
Herrera pointed out that the country’s current situation is characterized by massive corruption, rampant criminality, the decrepit public education system, lack of health care services, the rising prices of food, loss of jobs, unabated conflict and disasters. He warned that unimaginable as it may be, conditions may worsen as the effects of global recession reaches our shores.
“The time has come for all of us to band together as Filipinos for love of country and the common good to start a movement for change. We must engage in a politics of transformation, first by transforming ourselves into the best citizens that we can be and then together, act to transform the institutions of government so that they can better serve our people,” said Herrera.
To end the reign of politics as usual, Herrera said that citizens should put more serious consideration on who to vote for in the 2010 National and Local Elections.
“More than mere candidates, we need a leader with a vision for our country, a long experience in turning things around from bad to better, and a track record of success in moving people to achieve what was previously thought of as impossible,” said Herrera.
Bagumbayan explained that only by having such a leader will his group manifest its vision of a country where everyone is enabled, ennobled, and free.
The Bagumbayan Movement started out as an informal group of individuals committed to manifesting change in various sectors of society. Starting with the transformation of Olongapo from Sin City to Model City, they eventually joined up with thousands of volunteers to create the success of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and the resurgence of Philippine tourism.
The group’s general counsel, Atty. Rodolfo “Inky” Reyes, explained that the group has seen proof of how real leadership supported by the citizenry can turn dire circumstances into triumph.
“A real leader teaches his people to aspire for a higher and nobler vision of themselves; then teaches and drives them to achieve it. He never allows them to fail themselves,” said Reyes.
Chito Valmocina, former Chairman of Barangay Holy Spirit and Bagumbayan Quezon City Chapter Head, said that his own barangay was a manifestation of Bagumbayan’s principles at work.
“Our Barangay learned much from the example of Olongapo City and Subic, we applied the principles that made them into success stories and we were able to replicate them in Holy Spirit. This is proof that each of us, acting to transform our communities can contribute to the transformation of the entire country,” said Valmocina.
In 2006, with the passage of the RA 9369 or the Amended Automated Election Law, Bagumbayan campaigned together with other groups to compel the COMELEC to implement the pilot testing of Automated Elections in the 2007 polls. It is now currently backing the passage of the Health and Education Acceleration Program or SB 2402, which proposes the creation of a P73 Billion yearly fund to raise the level of Philippine public education to the standards found in Singapore, Malaysia, and other developed countries.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gordon calls for swift passage of IHL bill as Senate resumes session


Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today called on his colleagues in the Senate to pass a measure penalizing crimes against International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as Congress returns to work tomorrow after its Lenten break.


Gordon said he expects to begin to wrap up plenary debates and consolidate individual amendments to Senate Bill (SB) 2669 he authored and calendar it for approval on second and third reading soon.


"We ask for the immediate passage of Senate Bill 2669 as our symbolic gesture of our continuing adherence and strong commitment to IHL. The Senate is now in the penultimate stage of strengthening the measure thru amendments," he said.


SB 2669, also known as the IHL bill, is an act defining and penalizing crimes against international humanitarian law and other serious international crimes, operationalizing universal jurisdiction, and designating special courts.


Gordon, who chairs the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) which is celebrating its 62nd founding anniversary on April 15, emphasized that the measure would codify IHL within the ambit of the country's legal system.


It would, he continued, penalize and deny "safe havens" for those who committed war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.


Gordon, also a governing board member of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said the bill would also help humanitarian organizations in their mission to aid those who are in need and help save lives.


"We are a humanitarian organization dedicated to serve the people by alleviating human suffering and uplifting human dignity give importance to this bill because penalizing crimes against IHL would prevent such wrongdoings," he said.


"A crime is a crime. When we adopt international law as part of the law of the land, it reinforces our position that we are a humanitarian country which respects the rights of people even in the midst of armed conflict," he added.


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. (30)


Gordon laments the lack of public school nurses


Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today lamented the lingering shortage of nurses and nursing aides in the more than 43,000 public schools across the country despite the huge volume of nursing students graduating annually.


Gordon said he finds it very ironic that while the country prides itself of producing the best graduates of medical and other health-related courses, the poor public school pupils hardly benefit from adequate medical attention.


"Our young people enroll to nursing schools because they see the world's increasing demand for health workers. Our country badly needs them too, especially in our public schools," he said.


"Sadly though, our best nursing graduates prefer to work overseas because of the low salary they receive here," he added, mindful that a new registered nurse gets a salary of $39,000 annually.


According to the Philippine Nurses Association, a nurse in the government service supposedly should receive a monthly salary of P16,000.00, but many nurses are still receiving less than P10,000 monthly income.


Due to the huge difference in nurse's salary here and abroad, Gordon pointed out that nursing graduates prefer to work overseas, thereby leaving the country with an overworked and underpaid local nursing sector.


"If we fail to address the problem of medical workers' low remuneration, we also fail to solve the country's staggering lack of health workers in public schools," he said.


At present, there are only 3,254 nurses attending to more than 17 million pupils in the 43,000 public schools across the country. This means that one nurse looks after 5,000 pupils.


Last June, only 27,765 out of the 64,459 nursing graduates passed the nurse licensure examination. The figure translates to a 43 percent passing rate.


"What will happen to the remaining 37,194 examinees who did not pass the nursing board? Instead of having them wait for opportunities to work as domestic helper or caregiver abroad, we should give them jobs here in our own country," Gordon said.


The Senator said that in his "text-for-change" measure, the problem of the exodus – and thus, the lack – of medical and health workers will be addressed and they will be given proper remuneration.


"Once the bill is enacted into law, we will have appropriate funds to hire the needed medical and health practitioners for our public schools and we can provide them with proper remuneration and other benefits. They will no longer have to work abroad and expose themselves to the dangers," he said.


Under the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP), more registered nurses would be designated to public schools, while those who did not pass the nurse licensure examination can be employed as nursing aides.


 The HEAP bill seeks to fill in the gap in the country's health and education facility and manpower requirements by requiring telecommunications companies to remit part of their net earnings from local text messages to fund the program. (30)