[PHOTO AT LEFT - Bagumbayan presidential candidate Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon]

MANILA, MARCH 9, 2010 (STAR) By Iris C. Gonzales - Bagumbayan presidential candidate Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon wants to replicate what he did in Olongapo and at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone to the whole country if he becomes the next President of the Philippines.

In a roundtable discussion with editors, columnists and reporters of The Philippine STAR yesterday, Gordon said he would create an environment that would make the Philippines investor-friendly. This, he said, is the formula that spurred economic growth in Olongapo and in the Subic economic zone.

Gordon, a lawyer and a degree holder of history and government, served as founding chairman and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) from 1992 to 1998. He served twice as mayor of Olongapo City from 1980 to 1986 and from 1988 to 1993.

He said that to attract investors, the government must put in place the proper infrastructure and must be consistent with its policies.

Gordon noted that when he headed Subic, he was able to bring in global freight companies FedEx, United Parcel Service and DHL. This, he said was done by providing them adequate infrastructure such as roads, runways, airports and seaports.

As such, he believes that there is a need to put the proper linkages between growth areas in the provinces and in Metro Manila. This would also help decongest Metro Manila so that population growth wouldn’t be overtaking economic growth.

There would also be strong communication between local government units and the national government to ensure that policies are consistent.

“We have to have consistency. We can’t change rules in the middle because we can’t attract investors. We won’t be able to grow,” Gordon said.

He also said that in building the necessary infrastructure projects, his government would enter into Build-Operate-Transfer contracts with the private sector so that state resources can be used in other areas.

“We will have BOT projects. We won’t use government money,” Gordon said.

He believes the Philippines needs a steady growth of seven to nine percent to be able to create the “impetus” for change.

Gordon, who is running on a transformational platform, said he would also overhaul the current system in the country where only the oligarchs have control over the resources of government.

“The oligarchy does nothing but accumulate wealth,” he said. This paves the way for a system of patronage among the country’s political leaders, he added.

“We have to break this cycle,” he said.

Speaking on specific areas of the economy, Gordon said, he would prioritize agricultural growth by investing in irrigation facilities.

In the area of power, he said President Arroyo must be made accountable on the current power crisis and must be asked to explain why it is happening.

He said his government would promote the use of alternative energy and is even willing to look into tapping nuclear energy to resolve the crisis.

Gordon, who served as secretary of tourism from 2001 to 2004 said he would continue to make the Philippines an attractive tourism destination.

Citing Singapore and Hong Kong as ideal models in the region, Gordon said that if he becomes president, he would make the Philippines the one with the “cleanest and most honest government in Asia.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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