"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gordon says a mouthful

Senator Dick Gordon said a mouthful during our regular Kapihan sa Sulo forum last week.

Once described as a "motor mouth" by friends and foes Gordon did not disappoint the pre-All Saints' Day crowd with his "stream of ideas" ranging from, among others, a five point plan for PGMA to do right away if she hopes to restore her standing with the people; to a viable solution to the spiraling cost of imported oil (ethanol) and to raising more revenues outside of E-VAT (tax on text message) to be used for specific, directed and priority programs (educational and skills upgrading).

Delivered with gusto in his patented staccato, "man-in-a-hurry" style, Gordon noted that instead of "going around the ropes" PGMA should start "hitting the right spots" to bring some hope to our muddled situation.

Taking off from his earlier advise for the administration to stand firm on its reform agenda and avoid being tagged as overly transactional in its governance, Gordon called on PGMA to "take a holistic approach in reforming the government by acting decisively in responding to the people's basic needs, fair and firm in implementing policies, friendly to investors and tourists to generate much needed funds and forward looking in anticipating and preparing our people to the challenges and opportunities worldwide." In a word, he advised PGMA to lead and do something concrete for our people.

To be sure, a number of Gordon's suggestions have been given prominence in the past specially after he chided PGMA herself for practicing a kind of "transactional leadership" as opposed to an enlightened and transformational one. But coming as it does from an administration solon and her former tourism secretary, Gordon's reiteration at this point can only reinforce the prevailing public view that indeed there is need for Malacañang to seriously review its directions and change course to finally do the urgent and doable tasks at hand.

Said Gordon: "PGMA should immediately do the following: a) run after the criminals – smugglers, kidnappers, drug traffickers -; b) generate jobs – shift budget to tourism and trade, the two main (immediate) fund (investment) generating departments of the country; c) boost tax collection and tax the "wants, not the needs"; d) close the gap in education and health and e) make (transform) the government into a fast, fair, firm, friendly and forward looking one."

Gordon's point that President Arroyo should focus on these doable measures is shared by most Filipinos. Which is why it behooves Malacañang to take his suggestions no matter how severely worded, as one factotum was reportedly overheard as saying, in stride and do the right thing for once. But given the prevailing mood in the Palace which has been described by some as "tunnel visioned" and barricaded, that is an iffy thing at best.

But no matter. If by any chance PGMA takes Gordon's suggestions seriously there can be no question that it will have a positive impact on her standing. As some observers note, the administration's position is such that any successful effort to do the basic things it is mandated to do anyway will have a dramatic impact. As the latest survey shows, while 59 percent of the public think that the continuing investigations being undertaken by Congress are getting to be a waste of scarce public resources no less than 75 percent still want PGMA out of Malacañang by any constitutional means possible. That says a lot by any standard.

In any event, no matter how some of Gordon's detractors try to insinuate that his views are only meant to put Malacañang on the spot and induce more positive responses for the senator's favorite causes such as the fate of Olongapo and SBMA, his advise still deserves attention.

After all, implemented properly these can really turn the tide for this beleaguered regime. The ethanol plan, for example, will not only save us precious foreign exchange it can actually revive the country's withering sugar industry. On the other hand, the tax on text as long as there is a "no-pass-on" provision can discipline most of our people and, perhaps more importantly, direct billions of resources to the rehabilitation of our basic services.

Call Gordon ambitious or even overly frank but you cannot accuse him of being idle, unthinking or uncaring.

Thursday, 3 November 2005
J.A. Dela Cruz


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