Friday, September 09, 2005

Gordon sulks, scores President's leadership

By Efren L. Danao, Senior Reporter

Sen. Richard Gordon on Friday railed at what he calls President Arroyo's "transactional leadership," citing reports that she had given millions of pesos to some congressmen who had promised to oppose her impeachment.

Gordon, who ran under the majority coalition headed by the President, said Mrs. Arroyo cannot possibly reform society as long as she practices "transactional leadership," which he defined as one that seeks to stay in power through patronage.

"Unless this is changed, politicians and political leaders will be asking her for more perks. There will always be a quid pro quo for their support for her leadership," he said.

Gordon told reporters that Malacañang is about to issue a recommendation allowing secondhand cars to enter Subic Freeport as a concession to the Magsaysays of Zambales for supporting President Arroyo during the impeachment crisis.

Gordon said he was criticizing the President's leadership not because he is still interested in Subic, where he was once the administrator. There were reports that he was pushing for the appointment of a protégé to a plum post in the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

"I am saying this not because of Subic. I am no longer interested in Subic. It is no longer the jewel of the Philippines that was intended to supplant Hong Kong and Singapore as a free port," he said.

He said he could take the President to task because he is independent and has never been a member of her party. He said the majority coalition put up by the President is now dead and that even an opposition senator, Franklin Drilon, is now Senate president.

Gordon added, however, that Mrs. Arroyo is not the only President or national leader who is practicing transactional leadership.

"This has been going on in the Philippines for the last four decades, and even during the centuries that the Philippines was under Spain," he stressed.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye denied that the President was rewarding the Magsaysays for their support. Malacañang has even issued an executive order prohibiting the importation of used vehicles, Bunye said.

Gordon said the Magsaysay clan, led by Gov. Vic Magsaysay of Zambales, owns the largest car company in Subic and Zambales. It makes sense that they would ask Malacañang to lift the ban on the importation of smuggled secondhand cars in Subic because of their car business, he said.

The plan is to rescind the executive order banning the importation of used cars in Subic to give way to the approval of a recommendation that would legalize the delivery of smuggled vehicles into the port, Gordon said.

Lifting the EO would allow a free-for-all business trade for car smuggling syndicates that would have to pay only $500 for taxes. "You are asking people to pay their taxes and then you allow smugglers to come in," Gordon lamented.

He warned that rescinding the EO would spell disaster in the already sorry state of Subic.

"Car smuggling is very rampant in Subic. In the last two years, a total of 100,000 smuggled vehicles were shipped into Subic Bay Freeport," said Gordon, who warned that the cars are substandard and pollutive.

He said the recommendation is part of Malacañang's deal with the Magsaysays. In truth, he said it was the Magsaysays who compromised with the government and not him.

Sen. Joker Arroyo alleged that Gordon had cut a deal with Malacañang to support President Arroyo if she would install Gordon's protégé, Armand Arreza, as SBMA director. Gordon has denied the allegation.

Gordon said the recommendation to allow the entry of secondhand cars in the Subic Freeport was the real reason why AVE Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay withdrew his signature from the impeachment complaint. He noted that Governor Magsaysay is the cousin of the congressman.

"I am told that extreme lobbying was made by Congress­woman Magsaysay and Governor Magsaysay. It was Governor Magsaysay who brought Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay to the President and he turned around," Gordon said.

But when asked if he's going to break away from the administration, Gordon said he has no plans yet but he's ready to leave President Arroyo if she signs the EO that would allow the importation of secondhand cars in Subic.

"I am not breaking away. I have my own principles. But if you ask me if I am leaving, I am ready. I do not appreciate it that Subic, which is supposed to be the hope of our nation, would wither away. If you visit it now, there's just small traders there," Gordon said.

He appealed to Mrs. Arroyo to "change her ways."
--With Max V. de Leon

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