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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Use tourism to rise from devastation wrought by typhoons

The government and tourism stakeholders were urged by Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) to use tourism as a tool to get the country back on track after being hit by several typhoons.

Noting that the recent typhoons that hit the country brought great damages to agriculture and many infrastructures in the country, Gordon said that tourism would help generate the needed financial resources for the rehabilitation process.

"Right now we are in a situation where we had been hit hard by a disaster. This is a time when we must get our acts together and focus and put tourism at the forefront of our efforts," he said at the National Tourism Dialogue organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (PCCI).

"Our rice fields had been flooded, many infrastructures were damaged. Tourism can easily get us back into the game, because tourism means new dollars, more income for us, and tourism means jobs," he added.

Gordon, a former tourism secretary, said that both the tourism and trade industries must work together in encouraging more foreigners to visit the country by promoting tourist destinations in areas that were not affected by recent typhoons, noting that there are 7,107 Philippine islands to choose from.

"Tourism is the biggest business in the whole world today. Our country has fallen far behind in terms of tourism because we lack focus. We already have a Tourism Law and we must use it to fully develop the different tourist destinations in the country," he said.

The Tourism Act of 2009, which the senator principally authored, would make tourism the country's prime engine of growth by creating tourism enterprise zones.

A Tourism Promotions Board would also be created which shall be responsible for marketing and promoting the Philippines domestically and internationally as a major global tourism destination, highlighting the uniqueness and assisting the development of its tourism products.

"The whole industry--trade and tourism--must get together to make sure that you improve, fine tune the industry, and work hard, focus on a particular target, make sure that the area is friendly to businessmen and tourists," Gordon said.

"But above all we should be proud of our country. If you have all these things we can get this tourism business in the country to become number one in Asia, not because we say so but because we have done so," he added.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Subic in Laguna de Bay

Seeing the many opportunities in the Laguna de Bay region, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) is pushing for the development of the area to turn it into a Subic Bay that would attract investors and provide more jobs for the people.

During a consultative meeting on Monday with officials of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) and other concerned government agencies, Gordon said that the aim of his proposal under Senate Bill 3428 is to develop the Laguna de Bay area by having a master plan that would be executed by one authority only.

"The vision here really is to create something like Subic Bay in the Laguna de Bay area. The damage wrought by typhoon Ondoy in the area is the result of a lack of a master plan, and when the authority does not have the kind of powers that can really clean up or make sure the enforcement of the law is undertaken for the common good," he said.

"Laguna de Bay is the largest inland body of water in the Philippines. It is located in the major growth corridor of the country. The water resources of the lake and its tributary rivers are used for irrigation, power generation, recreation, domestic water supply, and navigation, among others," he added.

Gordon pointed out that that the LLDA was created to promote the development of the Laguna de Bay area. However, the agency does not have control over all projects affecting the region.

"Overlapping and even conflicting mandates and programs of the many agencies, local governments and other entities the LLDA coordinates with have been identified as the stumbling block in managing the lake's resource and the intensified conflicts that arise from its multiple uses," he said.

The senator explained that his bill aims to strengthen the policy-making and regulatory powers of the LLDA, in order that it can realize the vision of a self-sufficient and highly dynamic integrated water resource management authority.

Under SB 3428, one of the functions of the LLDA would be to develop a long-term program to attract more private-sector-driven investments into the Bay Region in consonance with a regional master plan, which shall be formulated in consultation with stakeholders, concerned government agencies, local government units (LGUs), and civil society in the Bay Region.

"You can make it like Subic where you can make a master plan and you can come up with leases. You can attract investors and make money on this lake so that you don't need to get a budget from the national government," Gordon said.

"What we are looking for is the common good. The common good is one that enriches the country, our governance and our sustainability as a nation," he added.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Idle gov’t lots for rehabilitation

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon has called for sustained relief and rehabilitation efforts to ease the plight of those dislocated by typhoons and help put the country’s economy back on track.

Noting that traders were among those severely displaced, Gordon has suggested the use of government-owned vacant lots and buildings as relocation sites for manufacturers and entrepreneurs.

“Shoe manufacturers and other businessmen, particularly in Marikina and Laguna, have already lost income and possible profits because they are unable to continue manufacturing their products as floods remain in several areas,” he said.

The lawmaker, a strong advocate of volunteerism in disaster mitigation programs, lamented that the spate of typhoons disrupted the flow of trade and commerce, requiring immediate and sustained government intervention.

Gordon, also Philippine National Red Cross chair, said unutilized lots and empty buildings of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) and other government agencies can be used by entrepreneurs “so they can get back to business in time for the Christmas season.”

He described as “good spots” Peza’s buildings in Laguna, especially those along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), because they are accessible to traders.

Gordon eyes use of idle gov’t lots for rehab

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:59:00 10/24/2009

Good governance is key to eradicating poverty

As member states of the United Nations (UN) strive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) said that good governance is needed to eradicate poverty that is being experienced in many parts of the world, including the Philippines.

Gordon made the statement during the MDG Leaders' Forum last Tuesday at the Asian Institute of Management Conference Center in Makati City, where one of the main issues discussed is the first of eight MDGs, which is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

"Poverty is an absence of choice. We must provide development especially in the countryside so people have choices rather than hoping that they will get the turn of the dice by flocking to cities and going abroad. But without good governance, we will not be able to make anything happen in this country," he said.

Gordon explained that part of good governance is motivating the people to improve themselves and be part of nation-building.

"I've always said that what this country needs is not just a change OF men, but a change IN men. None of us here can change our country unless we are able to motivate our people. There must be transformational leadership. The job of a leader is to uplift the level of development of the people, the level of their lives, and the character of the people," he said.

Gordon also stressed that good governance is setting goals for the country to achieve--that is, to develop what he calls HEAT IT (Health, Education, Agriculture, Tourism, and Information Technology), and to go on with the fight against war, corruption, and disasters.

The senator explained that the government should improve the education system by ensuring that schools have better teachers, better learning environment, and sufficient facilities for students; and upgrade student health care by providing the needed manpower such as dentists, doctors and nurses.

In agriculture, he said that "we have to be smarter, plant where we must, in areas that are safe from typhoons" so that we can produce more rice and crops and be able to feed ourselves rather than relying on importation.

Gordon, who is author of the Tourism Act of 2009, also said that tourism should be continuously developed as it is one of the industries that provide a lot of job opportunities for the people. He added that the information and communications technology industry (ICT) is also another sector that needs to be further developed to enable the country to get the lion's share in the global ICT market.

"We should promote all these things, and at the same time we have to get smarter against weather, make sure that we have a disaster risk reduction program and other related programs; we have to address our problem with the insurgents and solve the conflict with our Muslim brothers; and finally, we have to attack corruption at its core," the senator stressed.

"We have a great country but many of our people find their future in foreign shores. It is time to find our future in our own native Filipinas. We've got to have focus--focus on creating jobs, promotions, and we have to make sure that our government is focused, fast, friendly, flexible and always forward-looking," he added.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Move to safer grounds now before typhoon 'Ramil' hits land.

The voluntary evacuation of people in provinces located in the "projected path" of typhoon "Ramil" (international codename Lupit) before the typhoon hits land was reiterated by Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind)on Wednesday.

Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) stressed that people in Northern and Central Luzon who are living in unsafe areas, including those residing in Metro Manila, should prepare and evacuate while there is still time.

"Lahat ng mga nakatira sa tabi ng ilog na dadaanan ng bagyo, maghanda na kayo. At huwag ninyong isipin na sa Cagayan lang dadaan iyan o sa Babuyan Islands, may posibilidad na umabot iyan hanggang Metro Manila. Mabuti nang sigurado tayo. Sigurado ang Northern Luzon at Central Luzon aabutan ng ulan ang mga iyan," he said.

"Kaya kung kayo ay nakatira sa mababang lugar, tabi ng ilog, tabi ng mga creek o mga sapa, lumisan na kayo diyan. Kung kayo ay may pamilya na may special concerns katulad ng maysakit o incapacitated, ilipat niyo na sila. Itaas niyo na ang mga gamit niyo sa second floor at isara niyo ang mga bahay niyo," he added.

Gordon advised people who will move to safer grounds to inform their relatives of where they are moving to so their relatives would not be worried about their whereabouts.

The barangay should get organized and assign ten or more fit residents who will stay behind and watch over everyone's properties, "if the residents of an area have to evacuate and are worried about their properties," he also recommended.

Earlier this week, the PNRC chairman has directed staff and volunteers of Red Cross chapters, especially in Northern Luzon and Central Luzon, to closely monitor the situation in their respective areas. This will help avert a possible devastation with the same extent as the destructions caused by "Ondoy" and "Pepeng," the two recent typhoons that devastated the country.

Gordon directed Red Cross chapters to monitor weather updates, to keep disaster response teams on standby and to prepare rescue equipment such as rubber boats.

According to a weather bulletin from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), as of 4:00 a.m. Wednesday, "Ramil" was located at 600 kilometers East Northeast of Aparri, Cagayan with maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 210 kph.

Ramil, which is expected to hit land on Thursday, will be the 18th storm to enter the country this year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Manifestation of support to the P12Bil Calamity Fund measure for Ondoy and Pepang

This vote, this particular measure is indeed very needed, not only because there is an emergency, but principally because our people are in dire need. When the people of the world give us support, our people, our whole country must show that we are willing to put down our own money for our people. It will not look seemly for our country to ask for help from the whole international community and not be able to help ourselves.

I congratulate our colleagues for having voted for this wonderful measure that the country badly needed. But at the same time, I'd like to issue certain caveats. I would like to see this bill strictly follow a set of standards that would allow for transparency and to make sure that in the implementation, we know that we would be spending so much for relief, so much for non-food items, so much for hygiene kits, so much for housing, if there is going to be housing, so much for livelihood and so much for infrastructure if this is going to be implemented well. This will ensure transparency in the measure so that our people will know that this is not one big scam or an opportunity to bring another scam. I for one, place full confidence on our government even as we argue with one another.

It is my hope that the higher interest of the little people, yung pinaka-maliliit, ay silang magkakaroon ng pagkakataon na makakuha ng mga resources na kailangan. Hindi para maging isang pala-abot o maging pala-asa ang tao natin sapagkat kapag ginawa natin iyan, sinasanay natin sa pag-abot ang tao magiging palasisi ang tao. Mr. President, I would like to manifest my support to this measure. Please be aware that we all have to have the collective responsibility to see to it that this measure succeeds and goes all the way down to where it is needed.

Just another caveat, Mr. President. Bureaucracy can again weaken the face of disbursement. And we have an atrocious record in so far as being able to disburse the monies that are being spent. It is my hope that we can at least make sure that the higher interest, once again, of our people are considered by those who are going to implement it so that we can indeed utilize this as quickly as possible to alleviate human suffering and for our people to be able to get back on their feet and feel that they can still resume their lives, they can still help themselves. There will be maximum cooperation in the new effort to try and rebuild from the watery, watery places of this country.

Thank you very much.

Monday, October 12, 2009

PNRC medical stations to prevent epidemic in evacuation centers

Aside from seeing to the installation of water bladders, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) has started setting up medical stations in evacuation centers to stop the further spread of diseases in the centers where people rendered homeless by tropical storm "Ondoy" are temporarily given shelter.

Gordon, also chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), visited Sunday the Red Cross Medical Station set up at the PhilSports Arena, formerly known as Ultra Stadium, to ensure that the PNRC medical tent is operating smoothly.

"With hundreds of people being given temporary shelter at the Ultra, it will be very easy for diseases to spread. We would like to prevent that by making sure that people here are given prompt medical attention should the need arises. The medical station will be in operation as long as it is needed," he said.

The PNRC has set up its first medical station at the Ultra last Saturday. Manning the station are five doctors and 12 nurses who take turns in going on-duty to provide medical treatment to people staying there who have taken ill.

Aside from doctors and nurses, Red Cross emergency response teams are also on standby to provide transport services, such as ambulances.

Manageable diseases or cases can be treated at the medical station, which can accommodate 50 to 100 patients. It can provide patients a maximum confinement of two days but patients who require longer confinement period would have to be referred to the nearest hospitals.

Since it started operations, some 50 patients have already sought treatment at the station. Their ailments included upper respiratory tract infection; pneumonia; wounds; diarrhea; skin infection, such as athlete's foot; and an isolated case of suspected dengue fever.

There are free medicines provided, however, not all medicines being prescribed to patients there are available at the medical station.

Several pregnant women also had consultations at the station. Since the Red Cross promotes breastfeeding for babies and children aged one and below, the medical station has a private area where mothers can breastfeed their babies.

During Gordon's visit, 19-year old Maridel Delgado, who was on her last stage of pregnancy, went into labor. He ensured that the expecting mother was promptly brought to Rizal Medical Center (RMC), the nearest hospital with the necessary facilities and equipment.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier reported that some 6,725 persons in evacuation centers are now suffering from common diseases like upper respiratory tract infection, skin infection, diarrhea and minor injuries.

Gordon said the PNRC will set up medical stations in other evacuation centers where they are needed.

Red Cross, SBMA, Olongapo, PCG volunteer rescue teams dispatched to Pangasinan

Volunteers of PNRC, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Philippine Coast Guard were mobilized to rescue thousands of families who were affected by heavy flooding in Pangasinan by Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Chairman Senator Richard Gordon.

On Thursday, Gordon asked United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to encourage get American soldiers to convert from their military mission to a humanitarian mission in Pangasinan.

Gordon immediately sent three (3) rubber boats from SBMA, manned by Red Cross volunteers from SBMA and Olongapo, onboard one (1) PNRC heavy 6x6 truck and one (1) SBMA rescue van headed by Ranny Magno.

Gordon also dispatched Olongapo City Disaster Teams headed by Angie Layug with two (2) rubber boats on board two (2) rescue vans, one (1) dump truck with several men. He also asked help from his brother Olongapo Mayor James Gordon to send well-trained rescue teams then immediate headed to Dagupan.

In coordination with the US military and the Philippine military, Gordon sent 6 rubber boats with 6 teams from the PNRC National Headquarters. These groups were dispatched to Rosales, Villasis and Lingayen to rescue people.

On Friday, three (3) more rescue boats were dispatched to Dagupan from PNRC National Headquarters and another two (2) to Lingayen with the Philippine Coast Guard helping the Red Cross volunteers.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Thousands of families hit by 'Ondoy' to benefit from P19-M worth of donated goods from Italy

A single foreign donation of goods worth around P19-million including generators from the Italian embassy made to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), which would benefit thousands of families that were badly hit by tropical storm "Ondoy" was received by Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today.

Gordon, also chairman of the PNRC, led other Red Cross officials in receiving the donation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminal 1 this morning (Thursday).

"We are thankful to the Italian embassy for lending a hand at this point when our country is still coping with the devastation that 'Ondoy' left. This will go a long way in alleviating the suffering of our countrymen," he said.

The donation, which was turned over by Italian Ambassador Rubens Anna Fidele, assisted by Embassy Attaches Dr. Leandro Zontini and Alfredo Moretti, was worth 283,723.86 EUR (Euros) or US$408,235.77.

The items donated were 23 generators, which will be placed in evacuation centers without electricity; and eight water tanks and water pumps that would provide potable water for evacuees.

Also donated were 900 kitchen sets, 4,200 blankets, 3,000 jerry cans with screw cap, 3 inflatable boats, and clothing, shoes, towels, sanitation, and hygiene items.

Earlier this week, some 10,000 families affected by 'Ondoy' were the recipients of around P25-million worth of donations from the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and the American, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Finish, German, and Japan Red Cross societies.

The donation, worth 554,000.80 Swiss francs (CHF), consists of hygiene sets, which contained body and laundry soaps, toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary pads, toilet papers, hand towels, bath towels and razor; sleeping gears, such as blankets, mosquito nets and sleeping mats.

Gordon, a governor of the IFRC, said the donated goods also included kitchen sets, which contained cooking pots, frying pans, metallic bowls and plates, plastic cups, kitchen knives, wooden stirring spoons, and tablespoons and forks.

The senator led Red Cross volunteers in conducting rescue and relief operations. He and Red Cross volunteers distributed relief goods in different evacuation centers and communities in Metro Manila and other nearby provinces.

Donations and assistance from other international communities have started pouring in, a day after Ondoy lashed the country.

Creation of 'provident fund' for OFWs

The creation of a provident fund for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that would help them save and invest their money for their social security, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today proposed.

Gordon, who chaired the hearing for the budget of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), suggested that the agency study the Central Provident Fund (CPF) of Singapore and use it as an example to create the Philippines' own provident fund for OFWs.

"There are 4.5 million contractual OFWs; they earn dollars abroad, risk their lives, but are they covered by social security? What happens is like this, I'm an OFW, I work abroad, earn a little, buy my own house, have a better life, but when I lose my job abroad, too bad for me," he said.

The senator noted that OFWs covered by the Social Security System (SSS) are Filipinos recruited by a foreign-based employer for employment abroad who have availed of voluntary coverage.

"What the government must do is to create a program that would help our fellow Filipinos who are working abroad make good use of their money. The formula here is work, save and invest to prosper," he said.

Gordon explained that Singapore's CPF is a comprehensive social security savings plan for employees. Working Singaporeans and their employers make monthly contributions to the CPF and these contributions go into three accounts--ordinary, special and medisave accounts.

Under the ordinary account, the savings can be used to buy a home, pay for CPF insurance, investment and education; the special account is for old age, contingency purposes and investment in retirement-related financial products; while the medisave account can be used for hospitalization expenses and approved medical insurance.

"What we want is to broaden the opportunities available for our OFWs. If the government has a program for them, like this provident fund, Filipinos working abroad would have a sense of security and confidence," Gordon said.

"If we can get our OFWs to work, save and invest, prosperity would come next and eventually, less Filipinos would seek employment in foreign shores because there are more opportunities in our own native Filipinas," he added.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

P25-M worth of donation to benefit 10,000 families hit by 'Ondoy'

Some 10,000 families affected by tropical storm Ondoy will be the recipients of around P25-million worth of goods, the largest foreign donation to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) so far, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today said.

Gordon, also chairman of the PNRC, led other PNRC officials and delegates from the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) in the country in accepting a planeload of donations from other Red Cross societies abroad late Monday afternoon at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

"We are thankful to the other Red Cross societies and the IFRC for this donation, the biggest we have received so far since the country was battered by Ondoy. This donation will go a long way in alleviating the suffering of our countrymen who were badly hit by the typhoon," he said.

The donation, worth 554,000.80 Swiss francs (CHF), came from the IFRC and its members such as the American, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Finish, German, and Japan Red Cross societies and coursed through the IFRC's Asia Pacific Zone regional logistic unit based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

It consist of hygiene sets, which contained body and laundry soaps, toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary pads, toilet papers, hand towels, bath towels and razor; sleeping gears, such as blankets, mosquito nets and sleeping mats.

The donated goods also included kitchen sets, which contained cooking pots, frying pans, metallic bowls and plates, plastic cups, kitchen knives, wooden stirring spoons, and tablespoons and forks.

Gordon, a governor of the IFRC, said each family will receive one hygiene set, one sleeping set and one kitchen set.

The senator led Red Cross volunteers in conducting rescue and relief operations. He and Red Cross volunteers distributed relief goods in different evacuation centers and communities in Metro Manila and other nearby provinces.

Donations and assistance from other international communities have started pouring in, a day after Ondoy lashed the country. They included $30,000 from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and $10,000 from the People's Republic of China. The US government has provided $50,000 worth of rubber boats and has pledged an additional donation of $50,000.

Last week, a check amounting to $50,000 from Mr. Lee Soo Young, Chairman and chief executive officer of OCI Company Ltd. from Korea, coursed through Korean Ambassador Choi Joong Kyung, was turned over to Gordon.

Singaporean Ambassador A Selverajah also handed over $20,000 worth of relief items as initial donation from the Singaporean government.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Bicam panel approves IHL bill punishing crimes against humanity

The Senate and the House of Representatives approved on Monday in a bicameral conference committee the measure codifying international humanitarian law (IHL) within the country's legal system.

Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.), principal author of Senate Bill 2669, lauded the approval of the bill stressing that the measure would ensure that those who commit war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity would be penalized.

"Throughout the centuries, millions of children, women and men all over the world have been victims of unimaginable atrocities that shock the collective conscience of humanity. Philippine history is not spared from such atrocities," he said.

"Such acts are grave crimes that threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world, and yet only a handful of those responsible for those crimes have ever been brought to justice by local courts," he added.

The bicameral conference committee ironed out the differences between SB 2669 and House Bill 6633. Senators Gordon and Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate panel, and Representatives Lorenzo Tañada III, chairman of the House panel, and Roilo Golez were present during the meeting.

Gordon said the bill defines and penalizes crimes against IHL and other serious international crimes. It 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.

Richard Desgagne, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) regional legal adviser for Southeast Asia and East Asia, said that the bill is very important for the application and enforcement of the IHL in the Philippines.

"It is also very important in terms of the implementation of the Geneva Conventions. Obviously, the idea of the bill is to serve as a deterrent to commit violations during armed conflict," Desgagne said.

For her part, Justice Leonor Ines Luciano, Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Governor, expressed elation over the Congress' approval of the bill.

"We are so happy about this development. We have worked on it for so long, four Congresses. This is very, very important insofar as the Philippines is concerned because of the armed conflicts. We have had armed conflicts for the last seven decades from the North to the South. And so, at long last we have this bill, and I hope we are able to implement it properly," Luciano said.

Gordon, chairman of the PNRC, explained that 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 that the means and methods of warfare are restricted.

"Our bill is a symbolic gesture of our strong commitment to international justice. But above symbolisms, our goal is to end impunity and to ensure that the most serious crimes against humanity as a whole do not go unpunished," he said.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Urging the nation to rise from devastation, Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), cheered on the Filipinos, especially the victims of tropical storm Ondoy, to fight on as the nation rises from the devastation caused by the recent typhoon.

“FIGHT ON PHILIPPINES!" said Gordon as he led Red Cross volunteers in simultaneous disaster relief operations and clean up drive in different areas that were affected by the recent typhoon.

“Now that typhoon Ondoy has passed, our people need to focus on rebuilding their lives. This rehabilitation process will take time, effort, commitment and willpower. Sanitation and cleanliness is a crucial and vital first step towards recovery from a disaster. I urge everyone to pull resources and put all hands on the deck and share in lifting the load,” he stressed.

“We did it in Central Luzon during Mt. Pinatubo eruption and the subsequent US Bases pullout. Together we can do it again,” he added.

On Wednesday, the PNRC mobilized its 143 volunteers for relief operations and clean up drive in Quezon City and Marikina.

Gordon spearheaded the relief distribution and clean up drive at the Diosdado Macapagal Elementary School in Tatalon, Quezon City where US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, American soldiers and workers from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also participated.

The PNRC Chairman also proceeded to other relief operations sites, which include: Benitez Elementary School in Quezon City; and, Nangka Elementary School and H. Bautista Elementary School in Marikina.

Gordon said aside from providing food items, the PNRC has set up community soup kitchens to provide hot meals, water bladders and purifiers for potable water, and portable toilets for sanitation and hygiene needs of the victims. Generators and floodlights will also be installed in the communities with no electricity.

The senator explained that while they are conducting relief efforts, the PNRC is also planning on the rehabilitation of the communities affected by the disaster.

“We are doing these relief operations to give hope to the victims. But we do not want to instill a culture of dependency, that is why we are encouraging them to help themselves and help one another. The Red Cross will be here to support them,” he said.

“We are trying to get the victims back to their houses as soon as possible. We cannot leave them in the evacuation centers because that is not the policy of the Red Cross. We are raising money to help rebeuild their homes so that they can return to their homes and go on with their living. We have built 15,000 homes for the last three years. And that is what we intend to do right here as well,” he added. (30/tgp)

Pro-active measures needed to lessen damage during disasters

The importance of planning for a disaster, which must be carried out not only by the government but also by the public was emphasized by Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today.

“Weather is an act of God, but the planning and reactions are acts of men. You can mitigate the damage, but you cannot stop it,” he said during the Kapihan sa Senado.

Asked what should be done now that typhoon Pepeng has entered the Philippine area of responsibility, Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), answered that the government should be giving proper instructions to the public and the people should heed such directives.

“We must be pro-active. The President or the National Disaster Coordinating Council should ask the TV and radio stations for 15 minutes at primetime and make the necessary instructions: a typhoon is coming, this is what is happening, this is what would happen, this is what the government would do, and this is what the people must do,” he said.

The senator also said that instead of using schools as evacuation centers, the government should plan on setting-up permanent evacuation areas where people could go for refuge once a disaster hits their communities.

“For example, In Bicol, every time Mt. Mayon acts up, we use the schools as evacuation centers. In a disaster-prone area like the Philippines, there should be an evacuation center designed for that,” Gordon said.

“What we should do is to find a safe place, on high ground, every municipality should have that or designate that. And these centers should have water and toilets. Cities and municipalities in the country should also use a warning system using text messaging, so that the city or provincial disaster coordinating councils could easily alert the people when it is time to leave their houses and go to the evacuation centers,” he added.

In the PNRC, Gordon has created the Red Cross 143, a network of 44 volunteers (1 leader plus 43 members) in every barangay who must be the first to prepare, first to report and first to respond during disasters and other emergency situations.

The duties of the members of Red Cross 143 volunteers include: (1) Predict possible threats in the community; (2) Plan what to do in times of disasters; (3) Prepare the community for what it would need; (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. (30/tgp)

Clean up, sanitation drive in QC, Marikina evacuation centers

PNRC WATER BLADDER. Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), joins evacuees in drinking water from the water bladder set-up by the PNRC at H. Bautista Elementary School in Marikina evacuation center. Gordon said, with the water bladder, evacuees can be assured that the water is safe for drinking. The water bladder can hold 10,000 liters of potable water. Several water bladders will also be set-up in other evacuation centers.

As he stressed that cleanliness and sanitation should be maintained in the centers to prevent the outbreak of diseases. Senator Richard J. Gordon ( Ind. ) has spearheaded a clean up drive in evacuation centers in Quezon City (QC) and Marikina.

Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), led Red Cross volunteers from as far as Olongapo, in going to four elementary schools in QC and Marikina that were converted into temporary shelters for residents who were rendered homeless by tropical storm “Ondoy.” Students from FEU, PCCR and UP as well as 16016 and Pinoy volunteers were deployed.

“You must strive to maintain cleanliness and sanitation even while you are staying at these evacuation centers. You do not want to live in dirty and stinking surroundings, do you? Since you are sheltered here, you should keep the school buildings and its grounds clean,” he said.

“Outbreaks of diseases, such as cholera, are feared in evacuation centers because of the lack of sufficient facilities like comfort rooms. But if we keep the evacuation centers clean, we can prevent outbreaks,” he added.

Evacuation centers that Gordon and the Red Cross volunteers visited included the Macapagal Elementary School in Tatalon, QC; Benitez Elementary school in Sta. Lucia, QC; Nangka Elementary School in Marikina , and; H. Bautista Elementary School in Marikina .

Gordon and his group initiated clean up drives in the said evacuation centers. They also distributed relief goods in Macapagal, Benitez and Nangka. He also had Alma Laza, a stroke victim sheltered in Nangka, carried out and brought to a hospital in Batangas.

The volunteers cleared the grounds of debris left by the flood and removed the build up of mud with water provided by fire trucks from PNRC and Olongapo. They also placed garbage plastics in every room.

Gordon placed ten portable toilets or portalets in H. Bautista and committed to set up ten each in nine other evacuation centers. Bert Lina of Air Freight 2100, donated 100 portalets.

Also in H. Bautista, the senator watched closely as volunteers of the Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) set up a water bladder that can hold 10,000 liters of water. He will visit other evacuation centers and will assess their need so the Red Cross can set up water bladders in the centers.

“With the water bladder, you can be assured that the water is safe for drinking,” Gordon said. (30/lap)