Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dick Gordon's Impassioned Speech when Senate Adjourned Sine Die

I rise on a matter of the highest collective privilege.

I believe at this point that we have to acquit ourselves before the
bar of opinion of our people. Our people have questioned our
capability as a Senate to enact the laws that are necessary. And I do
know that all of us, practically all of us, want to acquit ourselves,
to be able to show that we may be slow at times but we want to make
haste slowly so that we could study every bill, every law properly.

Mr. President, we had occasions in the past where we had to file bills
which required speed. Just recently, we approved the Death Penalty
bill. I believe we approved that in record time—-two days. There was
no opposition to it even if it was a very great issue of the day. Not
because we concurred with it but because we believed that it was the
right thing to do, even if this representation, although I sponsored
it, cited the fact that we may not have the police force that is
capable to look into these cases, especially murder cases. And I
would rather err on the side of caution, Mr. President.

Today, I was supposed to go very early to a meeting on the dialogue on
the Cha-cha. At about twelve o'clock, I was already on my way to
Shangri-La. I was told that we are going to adjourn all of a sudden.
This was against the agreement made between me and the Majority Leader
that we are going to take up this matter of automated election. And
so I called up the Senate President, the Majority Leader and we all
agreed that we were going to take it up at two o'clock, and they told
us to return at 1:30.

I was already proceeding here when Senator Enrile called me and said
to come back. In fact, in the meantime, I called the other senators.
I asked Senator Lapid to be here. I tried to call Senator Revilla. I
called up Senator Enrile. I called up Senator Angara to come over. I
called Senator Roxas to come over here. I asked my staff to call all
the others including Senator Arroyo.

Mr. President, I did so because this is a bill that we have been
waiting for a number of months. We started deliberations of this bill
in October 2005. During that time, we had four public hearings:

On October 17, 2005, we had Senators Enrile, Osmena, Pimentel, and
Biazon as guest senator. The other senators were represented by their

On January 30, 2006 we called another public hearing when we had
Senators Arroyo, Enrile, Angara, Lim, and Biazon as guest senator. The
senators represented by their staff were Senators Villar and Recto.
Absent were Senators Cayetano, Santiago, Lacson, Osmena, ex-officio
members Flavier, Pangilinan, and Pimentel Jr.

On February 7, 2006, we had Senators Arroyo, Enrile, and Osmena.
Absent were Senators Villar, Cayetano, Lacson, Flavier, Pangilinan,
and Pimentel Jr. The senators who were represented by their staff were
Senators Recto, Santiago, Angara, and Lim.

On February 22, 2006, attending were Senators Gordon and Lim. Absent
were Senators Cayetano, Rectyo, Santiago, Arroyo, Angara, Lacson,
Osmena, Flavier, Pangilinan, and Pimentel Jr. The senators represented
by their staff were Senators Villar and Enrile.

Since that time, Mr. President, we also called four technical working
group meetings: November 3, 2005, November 17, 2005, February 15,
2006, and February 23, 2006.

After the sponsorship and after the period of debates, we called
additional meetings out of respect for those who had questions on the
bill and we addressed these. We called four meetings, four caucuses
attended by Senators Osmena, Enrile, and, of course, Senate President

On May 19, 2006, we called another meeting and it was attended by
Senators Osmena and Flavier.

On May 24, 2006, we called another meeting and this was attended by
Senators Osmena, Drilon, Villar, and Resto.

On May 30, 2006, in addition to all those caucuses where we showed
examples of how we could have technology that is existing displayed
here in the Senate, we showed it on the Floor because we were not
getting the kind of attendance that we wanted in spite of notices and
calls made to the senators everyday.

Mr. President, during the plenary session on March 21, when we
sponsored this bill, the following senators had their interpellations
for the bill: Senators Pimentel, Enrile, Arroyo, "Loi" Estrada, and,
of course, when we were ready to put this on the Floor for Second
Reading, I was even touted by the Senate President as having too many
amendments. Out of respect once again to my fellow senators, we made
the necessary corrections on the bill to be acceptable to everyone.

We also introduced amendments on March 29, 2006. On April 5, 2006,
Senator Pimentel introduced his amendments. There are many, many times
that we have undertaken the period of interpellations.

In other words, Mr. President, throughout all these meetings, there
was a tremendous effort made by our Committee as well as the members
of the technical working group, some of whom are from the private
sector, people who were not paid by the government, people who were
asked to be consultants. Some of them were paid by the government, but
we have quite a few from the private sector. Some of these people were
the one who exposed the anomalies made by the Comelec during that last
procurement of the OMR. They are the same people who are now advising
us once again to tighten up on the bill.

As I pointed out earlier, the bill was designed to see to it that we
could have free, honest, fair and speedy elections. The bill was
tightened up to make sure that we have electronic transmissions,
something that was missing in the previous elections so that there is
no time to cheat. As we all know, cheating is done by way of retail
cheating. When one tries to bring in a flying voter, that is retail
cheating and we expect that the Comelec will address that even if it
is not yet here, meaning to say, biometric technology. We are focused
on the count of the voting all the way to the canvassing and when we
did that, we wanted to make sure that we had speed on our side. We
have the virtues of current technology on our side and a sure
technology. In reaction to the Supreme Court, we called it

In response to the Supreme Court's statement that here was a pile of
goods--practically an order sheet that was designed by the Comelec for
somebody to win that bid,--we reacted to that, and, indeed, we came
out with a bill that provides technological neutrality so that
whatever is out there in the horizon or in current technology would be

Mr. President, I have a favorite saying, it is called: "It's better
to know where we're going and not know how, than to know how we're
going and not know where."

Mr. President, I thought we knew where we were going. I thought that
what this country wanted was an election that would be speedy, that
would be honest, that would be credible and that would obviate

So, every effort at urgency, every effort to search the experts and
get their opinions to come up with the required technology was
undertaken, Mr. President. We tried to reach out to the senators. We
called them on the telephones. Our members came, some of them did not

Mr. President, we bent over backwards many times. I hold here a
Gantt chart which I showed in the committee meetings. The Gantt chart
said that we should have had this bill approved on the first week of
April. If the gentleman will recall, right before Holy Week, I stood
right there and Senator Pimentel conducted an interpellation of this
representation. We said we have to approve this and I was ready to
cancel my official trip for the International Red Cross to Thailand
just so we could finish this so that we could move forward. And at
that time we were already in the period of amendments. Tapos na po
iyong period of interpellations. We were in the period of amendments.
Yet, there were still debates being undertaken. And again, out of
respect to our colleagues, we answered the questions.

Now, Mr. President, we were promised, and the Senate President is
witness to this, the Majority Leader is witness to this, and other
senators. According to Senator Pimentel, when we get back, we would
finish it. He said, "Don't go back on Monday," because I promised I
would go back on Monday. He said, "Go, and finish that and come back
here on Wednesday, and we would finish it. "

Mr. President, I was surprised when I got here on that day, on
Wednesday. I was still being interpellated and I wanted to go on and
finish all the concerns and get the amendments of the senators so we
could be on time for the preparations for the 2007 elections.

Again, I was told, "Pagod na ako, Dick, matanda na ako. I'm limping.
Could you kindly....I-postpone na muna natin ito." Ang sabi ko,
"Hindi ba ang pangako natin tatapusin natin ito sapagkat kailangang
matapos natin ito?" Ang sabi niya, "Pangako ko sa susunod, tatapusin
natin iyan pagbalik natin."

Unfortunately, Mr. President, that has not been the case.

Mr. President, I was promised that we would finish this bill by the
Minority Leader. And yet, when it came to the moment of truth, there
was no promise. There was another extension, "We will do that." I
pleaded to him when we went to China, when we went to Tibet, when we
went to North Korea,... "Sabihin mo na sa akin kung ano ang ayaw mo,
kung ano ang gusto mo para mailagay natin." He said, "This is going
to happen when we come back." It never happened.

Then, what happened, Mr. President? We called for special
presentations. We even had one in the Session Hall. We asked people
and we were very careful to make sure that these vendors could not
advertise themselves here. We just said, "We wanted to show that it
is possible." And they brought their machines here. They made a
presentation here, right here, to make sure that we can prove that
this is technology-neutral, that the election, as proposed, would

Now, Mr. President, what surprises me is, we claim that we want to
remove cheating in elections, but do we have the sense of urgency for
it? I do not think so. At the rate we are going, we are not going to
finish this bill. Now, I am told, "Well, Dick, you know, I speak for
the Minority, and you know, the Minority has said they don't like the
bill. They have questions."

Well, Mr. President, if they do not like it, we have had so many
chances here. The members of the Minority should have been here. I
know many members of the Minority approved this and they told me so.
But they should be here. We are here today. When we want to
interpellate, any senator will come to the Floor and interpellate. If
they are interested to make an amendment or to go against it, they
should be here.

But, Mr. President, I understand we have passed bills on less than a
majority here out of respect for one another.

Mr. President, I cannot just go on and on and on and keep asking the
private sector, some of whom have doctorates in computer technology,
to come here and volunteer themselves. They are still here today and
promise them, the senators, not to worry.

I was told by one of them, "Naku, do not expect that that bill will be
passed because many congressmen and some senators may not like it
because precisely they cannot cheat." I heard that, Mr. President.
And I said, "Do not say that, that is not true. We are all honorable
men here and I tell you, I think we are going to be able to get this
through because everybody wants honest, clean elections in the

Yet, where are we today? I was promised that this will be the last
day. I kept on saying that we had a caucus. And I said, "Let us put
the automated election, it is doable."

At the time all this was happening, we were way ahead of the Lower
House. The Lower House had nothing. They had not even taken it on
Second Reading. They had not even had their debates. And yet, last
night, Congressman Locsin called me and said, "Tomorrow, can we meet
because we are going to be ready with the bicam? We are ready with
the bill. We want to do it tomorrow evening na pagkatapos ng

I said, "No, no, we are not yet ready. I think we will be able to
approve it tomorrow. Please talk to your fellow PDP-Laban senators
para mabilis na tayo."

Mr. President, he called me again today, I saw him today, and he
asked, "Are we going to meet today?"

I was really embarrassed because, my gosh, we talked about seven
bills that were of highest importance, that we were going to give
priority. But unfortunately, we were able to pass the budget at
mukhang ibi-veto pa ng Presidente. We were able to pass--thank
heavens for Senator Arroyo--the bill on the abolition of the death
penalty. We were able to pass that other bill, the Credit Information
Bill. But the Lower House has not even gotten their acts together on
that one.

And yet, we were so close to this. Is this just rushing up
legislation? I do not think so, Mr. President. Why? Because this is
a bill that simply amends a policy that was already made under a
previous law. The policy was made under the law that created the
Automated Election Law, which is Republic Act No. 8436. That was
already approved. But, as we saw, the Supreme Court shot it down
because it had a bill of particulars on what product practically to
buy, short of saying the brand. The Supreme Court said, "You cannot
touch that machine." The Comelec officials insisted that they want to
use that machine. That is why there is this sense of urgency because
the Gantt chart tells us that if we do not do this, we may not even be
able to make it for the elections in 2007. And if we do not make it
in 2007, we are not going to have full-fledged computerized elections
in 2010.

Are we saying here that India is much better than this country? Are
we saying here that we do not trust our people? We may not trust our
people in the Comelec, but I am sure we can trust some of them. Maybe
we are not sure of the technology that we have, but we can rely on a
lot of other people who could teach us the right technology.

But, Mr. President, we ought to try, as I pointed out, many, many
times. We have to have that sense of urgency and we have to make sure
that we get this done.

Mr. President, is it too much to ask? We have done this in other
legislations where we say, "Aprubahan na natin iyan on Second Reading
or Third Reading and then balikan natin sa July para lamang gumalaw

Yesterday, our colleagues heard my amendments. One of my amendments
says the moment it is approved, the council of advisers will
immediately kick in. The roll-up will go in precisely because we are
in a hurry. We are late. But we need to practice it.

I cannot forever say, "All right, all right, I better work backwards."

Mr. President, it has been said that this bill, if approved, even if
we succeed in the pilot test, "Oh, the Comelec is going to go back
there and try to monkey around with the system."

Mr. President, that is why it is technology-neutral. And that is
why we cannot go back to what is being proposed by the gentleman from
Cebu, and say, "O, wala na iyang technology-neutral na iyan.
Kailangang sabihin na natin kung ano ang specific." That is precisely
what the Supreme Court rejected, Mr. President. If we go back there,
then we are back to square one, in which case, ang mangyayari sa atin
ay wala na namang eleksyon na matino. And what have we been reduced
to in the Senate, rightly or wrongly, because wrong is perceived to
have been committed by the Executive? We have been conducting
investigations left and right because of the failure or perceived
failure or perceived cheating during an election that happened during
the last time.

And so, Mr. President, ang lumalabas ngayon, parang mabagal ang
Senado. Halos wala tayong nagagawa dahil ang sisi sa atin ay panay na
lamang tayong imbestiga nang imbestiga.

And so, Mr. President, this Chamber will forgive this representation
if his patience may probably have run out. I tried to keep my peace.
If my patience has ran out, it is not because of my pique or my
personal weakness. It is the patience of our country that we test
today. If we say that we want clean elections, then I say to them,
"acta non verba." Show it by action, not words. Magaling tayong
magsasalita rito and that is what we are paid for. I have always
defended that the Senate must debate. That is why we are slow. We
have to debate. We have to find out what is going on.

But, Mr. President, whenever we stand here, we must know what sticks
in the craw of certain senators. If they do not like a particular
provision of the bill, then they should stand up and say, "We would
like to amend it", not keep us guessing.

I went down on bended knee to our distinguished colleague today, not
only because he is older than me, not only because I respect him, not
only because I was pleading for him to get this bill approved, not
because I want to author this bill, I pleaded with him and I knelt
down before him so that he would see that, subukan na natin ito.
"Name it. Ano ba ang problema? Sabihin mo na sa akin para maipasa
natin ito." Test lamang ito. Iyon ba naman hindi pa mapagbigyan, test

I agree with Senator OsmeƱa that after this testing, we would go back
to the Senate in 2008 after the elections and say, "We will refine the
bill, if we have to." In the bill itself, it says, "six months after
the elections." There must be a deadline upon which we will submit
what went wrong in these elections. In that bill, it provides for
technological neutrality and technological neutrality means that if we
have to go on to 2007 or 2010, we will get what is current.

So even if they hire a hack, it is possible that in 2010, there will
be new computer technology, there will be new software, so much so
that that hack is going to have a difficult time.

I have explained that we have a source code that will be kept in the
Central Bank or even in SGS. And so that we could use it, we have what
they call an "executable code." An executable code is difficult to
hack, Mr. President. And we can have millions of these, sabay-sabay,
puwedeng iba-iba. So papaano nila dadayain iyon? Unang una, the time.
There is no time because the moment the ERs punched the election
result in the precinct, it will already be right away in the Congress
of the Republic of the Philippines, it will be in the Comelec, it will
be in the provincial governor's office, it will be in the municipality
or city. At sabay-sabay, makikita iyan. It will be on ABS-CBN, it will
be on Channel 7, it will be in all the media. And if we are not still
satisfied with that, I am told--and I do not want to put it in the
bill because it is technology-neutral and it is up to the Advisory
Council to do that--that they can even show an overview by way of
television screens to show the results in the precincts.

Ano pa ba naman ang gusto natin, G. Pangulo? Titestingin na nga. Kung
gusto ninyo i-test na lamang natin sa isang presinto para matuloy,
para masubok. Pero mukhang ayaw talaga. Mahirap imulat ang mata kung
nagbubulag-bulagan; mahirap iparinig sa taong nagbibingi-bingihan
iyong gusto nating ipagawa sa ating bayan.

Mr. President, this will only benefit the people of this country. It
is not going to benefit any particular individual in this country. It
is right into the alley of the Supreme Court that says, "You have to
change the technology. You have to go in and move in and make sure
that we have a good bid here."

Mr. President, we could even make different technologies in different
regions of the country so we can further protect it. I can argue that
point until I am blue in the face that the technology exists and it is
going to be hard to hack it. But if people do not like it, what can
we do?

The only thing I ask is decency, Mr. President, to a colleague. As
lawyers, we are taught to be candid. We are taught to treat each
other as officers of the court. Hindi ba itinuturo iyan sa atin sa
law school? Sabihin natin candidly kung ano ang ayaw natin. At dito
sa Senado, we are supposed to call each other "gentleman". A
gentleman when he refuses something will say, "I have a problem here,
Mr. Senator, can you help me out with this?" Or, at least, if he is a
gentleman and not a coward, Mr. President, he should stand up on the
Floor and debate with the sponsor, if he is not a coward.

Mr. President, what I have to say needs to be said. Precisely, we
want to protect the dignity of this Senate. Are we going back now to
the country and say, "Thank the holy God because this Senate has
finished the budget and we have finished the death penalty and we
still have a bill in the Lower House because they have not gone on
bicameral." I know quantity is not quality.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as urgency. And if I raise
my voice it is not to raise my voice but to really vehemently argue my
cause because at times it is very difficult to be heard especially in
our Senate when people are not interested in what is being talked
about. We tried as much as we can to get the attention of everybody.
Mr. President, we are trying to get the attention of everybody here
because this is what the public has been saying. And if some Senators
feel that we should not be talking about this then I think it would be
a bad day for the Senate when the Senate can no longer speak with
candor on the needs of the country. To my mind, this is a need. That
is why I put out this Gantt chart once again. Whenever I put out
something like this, some colleagues of mine would say, "Oh no, that
is nothing. Do not believe that Gantt chart." This is the work of
people who are in the technical working group. I cannot say to them,
"Ah, ang sabi ng isang Senador dito, bale wala iyan. Huwag kang
maniwala diyan. Kaunti lamang iyan." I cannot do that, especially when
we have asked them to do all these.

So, Mr. President, let me just point out that we have made every
effort. . This is the last day. Does the Body think I like the
situation that we are in today? We are leaving. We have not
accomplished anything, especially on this matter when all of us agreed
that this is a priority bill. What is wrong? What is wrong? We are
telling our people we would test this principle of automated

Mr. President, we have done this in ARMM. We have tried to do this
last time and we failed miserably. How much did we lose in that
election? How much was spent? It was P1.3 billion. Bale wala. They are
laughing at us. They are still paying storage fees for the machines na
ipinipilit pa ng Comelec. Here we are trying to correct it. We are
trying to fix the problem. And all I ask is candor and decency. Kung
ayaw ng isang Senador, huwag na niya akong paasahin na, "Approve na
iyan. Sige pumunta ka na doon sa Thailand at pagbalik mo, ipasok iyan
at tapusin natin iyan." All he has to do is write the amendments..
Kung ayaw ng Senado, who am I to go against the collective wisdom of
the Senate? Kung ayaw nila, then wala tayong magagawa. That is the
nature of all Senates, to conduct a debate, to convince one another.
And if we cannot convince one another, then vote.

We have not done that Mr. President. We have never voted. We have to
get a consensus all the time. At ang napansin ko dito kapag isa lamang
ang umaayaw, hindi tayo tumutuloy. I have often wondered. And some of
us have wondered. Senator Roxas and I have talked about it many times,
bakit ganoon. Senator Enrile and I have talked about it many times,
bakit ganoon dito. If somebody says, "I do not like it--the Senate
Majority Leader and I have talked about it--if one Senator says "I do
not like it," he is able to finish off the debate, Mr. President.

Ngayon kung ayaw nating marinig ito, perhaps charge it to my
inexperience because the Senators are all veterans here. The Senators
are all far more experienced, perhaps, brighter than this
representation. But I do know one thing. I also know that when I come
here I dedicate all my efforts to try and get good legislation passed
and represent our people properly so we can get the right kind of
service and the right legislation in place, Mr. President. And if the
Body wants to charge me for that, go ahead and do so. But it has to be
said. It is time to resurrect the Senate. It is time to get away and
change our attitudes. It is time to give respect to one another. It
is time to attend meetings if one is interested in a bill. It is time
to ask questions when he does not know something about the bill. It
is time to put our amendments in place if we do not agree with certain
provisions and put it to the test of voting on the Floor. That is
what the Senate is for.

To try and get amendments in, we have to come up and tataya tayo.
Sasabihin mo, "Ito ang amendment ko." Just as I take the risk here
and all of us take the risk every time we sponsor a bill, itataya
natin iyan. Sasabihin ng isa, "Ito ang posisyon ko diyan", at
pagbobotohan iyan. At kung matalo siya, then we shake hands because
that is the nature of the Senate. He tries again. Huwag naman iyong,
"Sige, aaprubahan natin iyan pagkatapos hindi. Hanggang sa
huling-huling araw, sasabihin sa akin, "No, Senator Gordon, I cannot
approve that because we vote as a collegiate Body and there are some
people who want to vote against it and who do not want to vote because
they have questions."

Well, my answer to that is, ang tagal-tagal na nito mula pa noong
October 2005. June 2006 na tayo. I have been waiting for their
questions to be asked, I have been waiting for their amendments, I
have been waiting to debate with them. But where are they, Mr.
President? If we had done this, then perhaps we would have created
more bills in the process. We would have enacted more laws.

Pero, G. Pangulo, siguro it is in the nature of our country since we
got occupied, no longer to be risk-takers, not to put our name on a
speech. We have become a nation of balimbings. We have become a
nation na ang hinihintay natin, "O buo na ba iyong kabilang street?
Sama tayo doon. O buo na ba sa EDSA? Sama tayo doon."

It is time that the Senate take a position. Each senator must take a
position on every proposition. I will always try even if our
colleagues say no to me, I will constantly try. I will debate if our
colleagues have good faith. I will accept their amendments if they
have good faith. I will respect them if they respect the Chamber. If
they respect the purposes of this Chamber, I will be the first one to
respect our colleagues.

I kneel down today for this bill, for a bill that would have solved
the problem of some senators here on dagdag-bawas when they were
victimized. I kneel down today instead of talking about Cha-cha and
showing na ang political power lamang ang dinidebate ng mga senador at
kongresista na gustong magbago ng parliament.

Today, Mr. President, at the meeting of Cha-cha, we kept our position.
The Senate must vote separately. One Congresswoman there stood up
and showed the whole nine yards when she said, "No, hindi kami
interesado na baguhin ang economic provisions. Hindi kami interesado
na baguhin iyang police system. Ang gusto lamang namin ay iyong
parliamentary system maipasok diyan at mawala ang presidential
system." In effect, iyon ang lumalabas na katotohanan.

Ganoon na ba ang mga kinatawan ng ating bayan? Hanggang doon na
lamang ba tayo? Hanggang saan tayo maaapektuhan, doon tayo sasakay.
At kung hindi tayo maapektuhan niyan, hayaan mo na siya, siya na
lamang ang magdi-discuss. At kung siya ay aabante, patirin mo. We
have become a nation that conforms, a nation that says, "Pagbigyan mo
na iyan. Talagang ganiyan iyang senador na iyan. Wala kang magagawa.
Hayaan mo na kasi walang mangyayari sa atin kung magdedebate tayo

Mr. President, this is what the Senate is all about. Nagdedebate
tayo because that is our intention, to debate. Pero may hangganan
iyan. At some point in time, we have to vote. And I am sorry if we
cannot vote today. I really am sorry. I am sorry for our people
because they deserve a lot more than this. I am sorry for our people
because they deserve urgency.

I am sorry if some of our distinguished senators cannot come out and
put themselves to the test of debates, put themselves and their ideas
to the test of their colleagues. And I am sorry because the
legislative firmament of this country is weaker when we do that. And
I am sorry when we delay because we have become a nation of
procrastinators. That is why we have been conquered by people who
say, "Don't worry, I will grant you independence; don't worry, I will
lift martial law; don't worry, we will do it tomorrow." That is why
we are a country that hopes maybe this year, maybe next year, maybe

Mr. President, mahiya naman tayong lahat dito sa ating bayan. Thank
you very much.

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