Richard J. Gordon, commonly called, “Dick” Gordon has been committed to serving the public his whole adult life. His journey began with his election as the youngest delegate tothe 1971 Constitutional Convention where he pushed for the inclusion ofan article on the Duties and Obligations of Citizens, even while still a student atUP College of Law. Thus, at the start of his public career, already central to his philosophy is that the relationship of the citizen to the state is defined not simply by his rights, but equally by his obligations.
In the wake of the assassination of his father, he was elected as Mayor of Olongapo City, and transformed what was then known as the Sin City into a Model City, defined by its cleanliness, and the discipline of its residents. In the face of dramatic unemployment in his city with the removal of the US Naval Base at neighboring Subic, he pushed for the creation of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and became its founding Chairman, transforming itinto the most successful base conversion recognized by international media, generating over 200,000 jobs on the back of over USD 3 billion in investments.
When Dick Gordon was appointed as Tourism Secretary, he placed the Philippines on the world tourism map with his famous WOW Philippines program. The country’s tourism industry thrived under his watch, even without a big budget, without having to copy other countries’ tourism slogans, and even as others in the region reeled from crisis after crisis –9/11, the SARS epidemic and the Bali bombing, pump-priming what hasnow been a decade and a half of virtually uninterrupted tourism growth.
When he won a seat in the Senate, Dick Gordon turned his extensive executive experience into shaping national policy. He authored major laws, a number of which aimed todramatically transform the political and economic landscape of the country – the Automated Election Law, the Tourism Act, and the creation of economic zones such as the Poro Point Freeport inLa Union, the Freeport Area of Bataan in Mariveles, and Camp John Hay inBaguio, all to jumpstart investment and development.Others dealt with longstanding problems such as Veterans Benefits, the Free Patent Law and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Law. As Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, he investigated the 2004 P728-Million Fertilizer Fund Scam and the assailed ZTE National Broadband Contract, demanding accountability. In the recent 2016 national elections, he was overwhelmingly re-elected and placed 5thin the Senatorial Elections.
He ran for President in 2010 and again for the Senate in 2013 but as fate would have it the very law that he pushed and worked hard for to obviate cheating - failed him. The COMELEC failed to fully implement the provisions of the law particularly on safety guidelines such as a random manual audit, three digital signatures, VVPAT and the very critical source code. This however did not deter him and he pursued the matter until it reached the Supreme Court that issued a very historic and resounding 14-0 vote in his favor.
Currently under the 17th Congress, as Senate Chair of the Blue Ribbon, Committee on Justice and Human Rights as well as Government Owned and Controlled Corporations; Dick Gordon continues to be a vanguard of public safety by taking a bite out of crime with large license plates and an accountable police in the wake of the drug war as well as ensuring the accountability of government officials to the public are ascertained and what is due to them such as SSS benefits for Senior Citizens and higher salaries for teachers are delivered.
When we think of the Philippine Red Cross, we think as well of its Chairman and CEO, who transformed the organization into the foremost humanitarian organization in the country. Whenever any part of the country is hit by all kinds of disasters, the Philippine Red Cross, with Dick Gordon at the helm, is there to provide various forms of assistance. The Philippine Red Cross is recognized as one of the strongest Red Cross societies in the world, leading toDick Gordon’s election to the governing board of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Dick Gordon’s work is well known to many of us. His effectiveness as a leader and a mover of people has been recognized and heralded through the various awards he has received ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM), the Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL), the University of the Philippines’Most Outstanding Alumnus in Public Service, and three years later, its Most Distinguished Alumnus, the highest award that could be bestowed by the UP Law Alumni Association. More recently, Dick Gordon was also awarded the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency’s Lifetime National Volunteer Achievement Award, the sole recipient of the award in 2015. Gordon’s achievements in the 48 years that he has been active in the Philippine Red Cross has also been recognized, having been awarded the three highest awards from the Red Cross, namely the Aurora Aragon Quezon Medal, the Silver Humanitarian Service Cross Award and the Gold Humanitarian Service Cross Award. Dick Gordon was also a recipient of the Japanese Red Cross Gold Humanitarian Award. Healso received recognition from various foreign media such as Asiaweek’s Twenty Great Asians ofthe Future and Asahi Shimbun’s 50 Young Leaders of Asia, among others.
Finally, he is a lawyer by profession, but has also been, at various times, a broadcaster, a businessman, a lecturer, and an inspirational speaker. He graduated from the UP College ofLaw, and holds a bachelors degree in history and government from Ateneo de Manila University.