Friday, January 30, 2009

Senator Richard Gordon's anti-corruption work doubles favorable ratings

My fellow Filipinos ought to demand more from their Presidential candidates than the proliferation of paid for TV and Radio Ads from sun up to sun down.

It is a good thing that there is some indication that people are beginning to favor Presidential candidates who demonstrate good performance in their current position. Is meritocracy gaining currency in the Philippines? I hope so.

In a poll conducted from Jan. 6-9, 2009 by The Issues and Advocacies Center (The Center), Senator Richard Gordon registered a two percent increase in voters’ preference for president as compared from the previous survey on October 2008.

The Center attributed the increased preference for Gordon’s Presidency to the hearings conducted by the Senate blue ribbon committee he chairs on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, which he recently concluded after having obtained enough evidence to pin down key personalities involved in the allegedly anomalous project.

Ed Malay, a member of the World Association for Public Opinion Research, says that "The hearings into the celebrated P728-million fertilizer scam have also boosted the political stock of Senator Gordon.”

Gordon, who has not yet declared his Presidential candidacy, described the survey as indicative of what people are demanding from their leaders.

“I am glad and humbled that our people appreciate the work we do in the Senate. This modest gain however validates what the people demand from their leaders, that is to lead a no non-sense fight against graft and corruption.”

The independent survey firm explained that people are more likely to choose leaders who actually work on curbing corruption in the country, given that the present administration fared poorly on its fight against corruption.

Following the Senate revamp in November, Gordon immediately held his first hearing into the fertilizer project where his committee charged former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante for disobedience to summons and false testimony.

Gordon's colleagues at the Senate, most notably Senator Panfilo Lacson, spoke favorably of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's performance under Gordon's chairmanship.

Gordon implemented a number of changes in the conduct of Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, among the most noticeable was the abandonement of the time limit imposed on Senators during questioning.

In the past, the time limit itself had sparked a number of arguments and stalled the proceedings. Gordon did away with the time limit to enable his colleagues to pursue their line of questioning to its conclusion, thereby making for more productive time as far as discovering facts or testing testimonies were concerned.

The hearings have also shined a spotlight on Gordon's ability to work well with all of his colleagues in the Senate.

During the Senate Christmas recess, Gordon summoned personalities who would be implicated by other witnesses. Threatened by the arrest orders issued by the panel to those who refused to obey summons, the witnesses surrendered one by one.

Last Jan. 26, Gordon temporarily concluded the probe with enough testimonial and documentary evidence and recommended to the Ombudsman the filing of plunder charges against Bolante and other alleged conspirators of the project.

Aside from his track record as a lawmaker, the Center noted that Gordon’s gain in the survey can also be attributed to what it called his “no-nonsense style of governance,” notably as Olongapo City mayor and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman.

“Gordon is largely credited for the transformation and development of the SBMA as an investment destination. He is also credited for having transformed Olongapo into a model community,” the Center’s report stated.

As Olongapo mayor, Gordon implemented a public utility color code, traffic management and waste management system which earned the city national and international awards such as the UNESCO Cities for Peace representing Asia and the Pacific in 1997 and the Konrad Adenauer Local Medal of Excellence in 1999.

He is also largely credited for the development of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority when, in 1992, after the United States military left Subic Bay, Gordon led 8,000 volunteers to protect and preserve the $ 8-billion facility left by the US navy, and eventually transforming the place into a premier investment hub.

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