Beware Gordon’s wrath
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2019 - 12:00am

Senator Richard J. Gordon has once again shown that he deserves retaining the chairmanship of two of the Senate’s most powerful committees – the committees on accountability of public officers and investigations (Blue Ribbon) and justice and human rights.

 Last week alone, Gordon conducted two investigations in both committees – the PhilHealth scam in the Blue Ribbon  committee, and proposed amendments to Republic Act 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance law in the committee on justice and human rights which he conducted jointly with a motu proprio investigation of the Blue Ribbon.

 In both issues, Gordon has once again shown that erring government officials will not be allowed to get away with circumventing the country’s laws for their financial gains. He firmly directs the questioning so that the truth will really be unravelled and accountability exacted.

 Last Thursday, the blistering cold of the Senate’s session hall did not stop him from presiding the back-to-back hearings on the two investigations which lasted for 14 hours. The television stations covering the hearings had to change crews to ensure that the investigations were televised live. But the long hours were hours well spent as the parts of the puzzle were slowly pieced together and the culprits were given faces.

 During Monday’s hearing, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Nicanor Faeldon’s lack of knowledge about his job and that he did not exert due diligence to make up for his deficiency became glaring when Dick questioned him.

 Faeldon admitted when questioned by Gordon that he was not aware of Department of Justice Order (DO) No. 953 prior to its mention during the second hearing, hence, the said DO was not complied with despite the assurance in the release order that he signed for the supposed release of former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

 Sanchez, who was sentenced to seven counts of reclusion perpetua for the 1993 rape-slay of UP Los Banos students Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez, was among heinous crime convicts whose release orders were already signed using RA 10592 as basis.

 In the same hearing, Gordon also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to check the cellular phones which have been subpoenaed from two of the resource persons. He directed the NBI to retrieve the messages deleted and call logs from the phones submitted by Sr. Insp. Maria Belinda “Mabel” Bansil and Sgt. Veronica “Boday” Buno to the two committees.

Thus, the founding chairman of the Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) had nothing but high praises for Dick, commending him for investigating the erroneous release of convicts of heinous crimes due to RA 10592.

 Dante Jimenez, who was appointed as chairman of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) last year, lauded the joint hearings conducted by Gordon’s committees because it shows the public how aggrieved the victims and their families are by the erroneous release of their offenders.

Jimenez pointed out that injustice would have been done to the victims of the heinous crime convicts had Gordon not stepped in and initiated a probe after media reports brought to the the public’s attention Sanchez’s botched release.

We are no longer strangers to the gruelling hours that Gordon spends on his investigations. Who could forget the investigation on recent killings where one hearing lasts for 16 hours? That is only for the hearing proper; Gordon even spends longer hours preparing for each hearing. It is common knowledge in the Senate that Gordon and his staff are almost always the last ones to leave the office. During his first stint in the Senate, even if the last shuttle left at past 10 p.m., his staff still could not make it. The corridors of the 5th floor were silent witnesses to how hard Gordon and his staff, including the staff of the committees, worked.

It’s the public that benefits from his  hard work and long hours because they are assured that the taxes they pay are working for them. Gordon’s investigations always have positive results, though not for the erring officials who get jailed or slapped with charges. When he investigated the shipment of shabu through the Bureau of Customs, the committee report he submitted after the investigation was filled with recommended charges to be filed, proposed new legislation and even amendments to current laws. Because of that hearing too, former police officers P/Col. Eduardo Acierto and P/Col. Ismael Fajardo are now fugitives from justice. Dick wants to ensure that accountability will be exacted and the conduct of similar transgressions in the future will be prevented. 

 Because of Gordon’s investigation, too, of the P50-million bribery scandal at the Bureau of Immigration, former Deputy Commissioner Al Argosino and Michael Robles, both lawyers, are facing graft, direct bribery, violation of Presidential Decree 46. Remember the alleged bribery prompted by the arrest of more than 1,300 Chinese nationals illegally working in the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clarkfield, Pampanga, owned by casino mogul Jack Lam?

The ending is, more or less, the same for every other investigation that Gordon conducted, even during his first stint as senator from 2004 to 2010. Hence, for the PhilHealth and GCTA investigations, we will be sure that heads will be recommended to roll and we can also expect new laws and amended laws that will improve our justice and penal system. 

Having known Gordon for years, I am not surprised that he has become one of the stalwarts of the Senate because he always makes a difference in whatever post he handles. 

Email:dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

RICHARD J. GORDON
Philstar
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