Gordon vs Aquino: On Mindanao

What’s in it for Mindanao: Aquino vs Gordon on Mindanao


I was tagged on FB recently and invited to a Mindanawons for Noynoy Movement. True enough, I barely browsed through the comment, and lo, the winnability virus keeps on rearing its ugly head.

Here’s a typical comment – “The problem is going for Gordon -Bayani might split the votes then Villar will win. As much as I want Gordon to win, I dont want Villar to win. This is my dillema.” . For the AP community, the answer would have been be a no-brainer – ability TRUMPS winnability.

Moving beyond the sound bites, it would be best to lay down what both have to say on Mindanao, compare their positions, and come to a conclusion. You be the judge, who has more substance, who has a deeper grasp of the issues, who has actually done something for Mindanao.

Having been born and raised in Southern Mindanao, anything “Mindanao” is a major concern for me.

Recollections – Pre-Asian Financial Crisis

I don’t recall Noynoy visiting Mindanao prior to the 2010 presidential campaign.

However, I clearly recall Richard Gordon visiting Davao in 1997 to ink the Davao-Subic economic cooperation agreement. where both executives agreed to provide direct investment and trade referrals between the Davao Investment Promotion Center (DIPC) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).It was a precursor to the upcoming APEC Summit in Subic.

I remember Rody Duterte and Richard Gordon exchanging toasts in Harana Restaurant one eventful evening. You see, before there was a Gordon-Fernando tag team, a Gordon-Duterte team up was already in the offing. Both executives represented the bullishness of the citizenry of Davao and Subic – and their ability to take the bull by the horns and strike it out on their own, independent of the powers-that-be in Malacañang.

Oh yes, I remember that night so well, because I was the Project Manager/Event Manager for said event.

The Gordon-Duterte chemistry went so well that the following day, then VP Erap Estrada who was wooing Duterte to be his Vice-President running mate flew to Davao City and made a personal visit to Rody. The rest is history – Erap lobbied to have Gordon booted out of SBMA and have Payumo take over the reins of SBMA.

But I digress, let’s cut to the chase. I have compiled the various pronouncements (based on a Google search) from both Aquino and Villar on Mindanao.

MoA-AD/Peace Negotiations
Objected to the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that the administration and the MILF had signed in 2008. “It was not inclusive and transparent,” he said. “Mindanao is composed not just of the government and the MILF.” There are also the indigenous peoples and the general population, neither of which, he said, were consulted when the MOA-AD was being crafted. “There are four sides in Mindanao, why were only two participating? It was like the government and the MILF came up with an agreement between themselves and then expected the other two groups to simply accept it,” Aquino said.

So if he becomes President, Aquino said, he will continue with the peace negotiations but in a more transparent and all-inclusive way. Nothing will be signed unless it has gone through a thorough consultation with everyone concerned — an admittedly tough job but one that is necessary nonetheless. Only such a process can lead to lasting peace in Mindanao

We see the problems of Sulu and Muslim Mindanao not in terms of war or peace.  We see it as a problem of delivering good governance and development which bombs and bullets will not resolve.

I am glad that everybody is now joining the debate regarding amnesty for some members of the Abu Sayyaf Group who may want to go back into the fold of the law.

What I want to do is to put people into a peace mode from a war mode. It is only in this mode of peace that we can move forward and begin finding a solution.

I am calling for a sincere and effective solution to the never ending war in Mindanao.  This entails a full court press from the government in terms of improving the economy, delivering justice, and infusing infrastructure in conflict areas — not just amnesty.

All out war has never led to peace and to progress.

It only digs a deeper hole and creates more problems and new complications.  Long term solutions are arrived at only after sound consideration and constructive debate.  They do not just appear in one’s mind as a brilliant idea at a snap of a finger.

We should never close the door on the possibility of peace that will lead to development.

We have been applying the policies of war for over four decades, nearly three generations have been born and have grown to maturity in an atmosphere of conflict.   Countless members of these generations have died in Mindanao and what we ought to have learned is that a policy of war creates more war, more bloodshed, more death, more destruction.

We ought to look more seriously at implementing a policy of peace.  A policy of abandoning old grievances and grudges; a policy of rebuilding what was destroyed; a policy of working together to create a new future that was never before possible; a policy of respect, a policy of understanding, and a policy of acceptance towards our Filipino Muslim brothers; A POLICY OF TURNING SWORDS INTO PLOUGHSHARES.

Finally, let us consider that no one dies when we talk about amnesty or peace.

Mindanao’s Economy
Once there is peace, Aquino said, “then we can work on the economy… Once peace is achieved, then we can go full blast.” “Apart from schools and health services, we should charter ships to aid in transporting agricultural produce from Sulu and other ARMM provinces to major markets in Visayas and even Luzon. We know it will work to bring the peace because we already did this with C-130’s for the Fruits of Hope program of the Philippine National Red Cross,” said Gordon.

Even during his days as Chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Gordon already supported development initiatives in Mindanao. He convinced Fedex in 1995 to open a link to General Santos City and Davao so that freshly caught tuna could be brought to Japan overnight as well as cut flowers and orchids to Europe. Also as SBMA Chairman in late 1997, he signed a MOA with the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) to farm out excess investors in SBMA to the SPDA and the Zamboanga Economic and Freeport Zone.

He said among the first things that need to be tackled is the power supply in the island, which currently is at an almost one-is-to-one ratio; that is, the power supply is just about equal to the demand. This means that there is not only no room to grow, there will soon be a power crisis as the demand outgrows the supply. He said that since his visit to Sulu in August 2007, he has been in constant communication with people from the province. Those whom he had communicated with, he said, expressed their desire to have better schools, good roads, and adequate livelihood.

The senator called for government to step up the building of schools as well as the delivery of health services in conflict affected areas in Mindanao.

many local government units in Mindanao are non-performing, that is, the supposed leaders are not doing their job for the people who elected them into office and who pay their salaries through their hard-earned taxes. For these LGUs, he wants a cut in internal revenue allotment (IRA); LGUs that do their job, on the other hand, would get the full 40 percent IRA to allow them to do more projects. A Noynoy presidency would thus be a “meritocracy” in which those that perform well are rewarded while those that don’t will have their allotments slashed. (“If they cannot do what they should do, then we should reduce their resources,” Aquino would say three days later during the Inquirer debate held last Monday). “As a Red Cross volunteer, I’ve been in Mindanao back and forth many times. What I saw was … a lack of governance. The fact that people have no choice so much so that they have to pack a weapon so they can make sure that they are protected and that they can have livelihood,” said Gordon, head of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC).

Gordon went as far as saying that Mindanao is “the land and burial ground of promises by politicians.”


He said the priority should be the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the poorest region the country. One of the provinces under it, Maguindanao, had been the site of grisly massacre last November where 57 people, most of them journalists, were brutally shot by armed men allegedly serving the powerful Ampatuan clan.

“We have to prioritize the ARMM because this is the poorest region in the Philippines. Resources must be put here if necessary bypassing the local officials. We must focus on this area,” Villar said.

He also said that the massacre in Maguindanao should not be viewed as an isolated case.

“This must be viewed in the larger context of the Mindanao problem. Has to be addressed, strike at the root of the problem. Clearly, poverty is at the root of the problem,” he said.

Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) remains firm in his stance that good governance, rather than an all-out-war, will be far more effective in attaining lasting peace and ushering in development in Mindanao.

Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, reaffirmed this position during an interview with broadcast-journalist Tina Monzon Palma on ANC’s Talkback.

“I’ve always said, socio-economic reform, full court press on justice, full court press on livelihood, farm-to-market roads, and amnesty would be a more effective solution to the conflict in Mindanao,” he said.

“There is no governance in Sulu. When I went around the community, it was an eye-opener. There were teachers who wanted to teach but they were not certified. There were schools that had no water, no toilets, no decent books, not even decent chairs. As you go out of Jolo, the roads get narrower. There are not enough farm-to-market roads, there are not enough ships or planes that can land in Sulu,” he added.

Gordon explained that the amnesty he is proposing is one that goes side by side with reforms, such as providing infrastructure to facilitate trade and livelihood, that would let the people of Mindanao live more decent lives so they would have more belief in the government rather than rely on guns.

“I think there were amnesties offered but the amnesty went as far as not being carefully worded, and as far as only buying firearms or balik-armas, i-integrate sila sa pulis or whatever. I don’t think it ever went into really honest to goodness reform,” he said.

Gordon pointed out that it is time that we break out of our indoctrination from the Spanish colonizers that Muslims are the enemy and resolve the Mindanao conflict that has already gone on for several decades.

“I think, eventually, slowly but surely, it’s not going to happen overnight, we will see an end to the sixty years of war between brother Filipinos. If you provide livelihood and respect, understanding and acceptance. The Muslim people are part of us,” he said.

Legislation for Mindanao
NONE Championing the move to create a Mindanao economic development authority

The need for an agency that would primarily carry out economic and social reforms in Mindanao to ensure the growth and development that the island deserves is vital stressed Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.).

Gordon said that there are boundless opportunities for development in Mindanao, but he pointed out that there has to be an authority that would effect a serious and comprehensive long-term program for socio-economic development in the area that is commensurate to the demands of a modern economy.

“Whenever I go to Mindanao I see the possibilities that are boundless not only in tourism, not only in agriculture, but also in industrial development,” he said during the committee hearing on the bill creating the Mindanao Economic Development Authority (MEDA).

“We are living in a borderless world. We can communicate by internet, by text, anywhere in the world. We can send our tuna to Japan talking through the internet without even having to go to Japan. But without the necessary infrastructure to bring out our products, we would not be able to compete with the rest of the world,” he added.

Gordon, author of Senate Bill 3260 (MEDA Act of 2009), said that Mindanao’s rich soil accounts for bountiful harvests of a variety of farm products such as rubber, pineapple, banana and mangosteen, among others.

He added that the region is likewise endowed with rich mineral resources including lead, iron and gold. Cultural diversity and the island’s natural beauty make Mindanao one of Asia’s favored tourist destinations.

Despite these resources, Gordon noted that decades of armed conflict have taken its toll on Mindanao. In fact, 45% of consistently poor provinces in the country are in Mindanao.

“We have had a long, long festering problem in Mindanao, particularly in the areas of Sulu and Basilan. Mindanao has got to be developed immediately if only to stop the war out there,” Gordon said.

“I know that there are certain elements in Mindanao that will never be pacified, but there are more people who want to conquer the lower instincts in man to make sure that Filipinos, whether they be Muslims or Christians, are uplifted,” he added.

Gordon said he strongly supports the creation of the MEDA to promote, coordinate, and facilitate the participation of all sectors towards the socio-economic development of Mindanao.

He explained that the MEDA would be the implementing agency for Mindanao-specific inter-regional and Mindanao-wide programs and projects, including Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects.

“Mindanao has been touted as the land of promise. But we have to make sure that the authority is established so that we can see the promise of Mindanao, MindaNOW, not tomorrow, but today,” Gordon said.

After reviewing the material, as a Mindanaon, I am more convinced than ever that Gordon not only has Mindanao’s (and the Philippines) interest at heart – he TRULY understands the issue as shown in his statements.

His handling of the ICRC hostage issue has been exemplary, too – it shows a man with a steady hand.

The long and short of it is this – Gordon has already been doing lots of stuff that Noynoy just talks and dreams about.. It will be a stretch of the imagination that Noynoy will be as efficient, as decisive, and as focused as Gordon – given nine bills authored in three years – including “Tarlac Day”. Go figure.

I say, go for the action man with the kick-ass plan – a vote for Gordon is a vote for Mindanao’s prosperity and progress – that’s not wasting your vote, that’s investing in your future.




  1. “His handling of the ICRC hostage issue has been exemplary, too — it shows a man with a steady hand.”

    didnt negotiators complain of meddling?

  2. If Gordon allowed the usual negotiators to do their usual thing – the hostages would have been dead by now.

  3. I ask someone about what would be the probable response of the likes of Ampatuans should Noynoy win, he said, I’m pretty sure they will just laugh at him.”

    I am not sure how the likes of Ampatuans would respond to a Gordon presidency.

  4. He was instrumental to putting the Tuna Festival in GenSan in the map of tourist must-visits calendar when he was still Tourism Secretary.

    He visited the city more than 3x over a course of three years and have helped shape up a comprehensive tourism plan for the whole of Soccsksargen, under DOT 12.

    His WOW Philippines Regional Exhibits at the Intramuros were able to showcase the beauty, grandeur, culture, products and trade of the various Mindanao regions.

    He really has a heart of Mindanao.

  5. hi bariles, i agree – gordon understands the Mindanao issue – as a probisyano executive – he does not sound too palatable and will come across as too straightforward among the submissive subservient lot who expect the pageantry of a feudal lord… disgusting 😀

  6. the Ampatuans will be comfortable with a Noynoy win.

    the Ampatuans will not be happy with a Gordon win.for one, the Ampatuans know Gordon also knows the Tausugs, and the Maranaos. Sen Gordon has a good following among the reformist and moderate moro intelligentsia who disdain the traditional feudal warlord structures.

    the Ampatuans know Gordon does not mince words and he will do what he said he will do.

    compare that to Noynoy who became Hacienda Luisita’s doormat. the Ampatuans will thumb their noses at Noynoy. it doesn’t help that he surrounds himself with the Hyatt 10 – a group that is more interested to strut like pompous peacocks in Alabang – than in the mountains of Cotabato or Bukidnon for that matter.

  7. Renato Pacifico · ·

    Ampatuan will not have a fair trial. Two ways of “FAIR”. FAIR means he’d be let go because he is big on GMA. FAIR also means he’d sent to jail because they cooked up the witnesses.

    MY “FAIR” means rule-of-law regardless of politics. In real civilized world scenario, Ampatuan cannot be prosecuted because: 1st, idiot peryodistas witnesses cannot be called to the stand because they are just phantoms; 2nd, they totally contaminated the crime scene, the crime scene was not properly preserved; 3rd, invistigative improprieties.

    OJ Simpson murdered two people. OJ got away because of contamination of evidence and racial bias of invistigative team. TRANSPOSE THese into Ampatuan. THEY GET NOTHING.

    So what will it be? Will the next sitting president trample the rule-of-law or satisfy the thirst of revenge by idiot peryodistas.

    I KNOW YOU CANNOT SWALLOW AMPATUAN BE SET FREE … FRANKLY, I EVEN WANT HIM FED TO THE DOGS. I would even want to watch the dogs tear his flesh apart as my joy and entertainment.

  8. Renato Pacifico · ·

    Ampatuan invistigation is like ZTE invistigation all over again. Totally, absolutely f**ed-up. Due to ignorance of very basic and elementary preservation of evidences and simple invistigative processes and telegraphing their punches thru ignorant peryodistas.

    I learned this by reading on-line Blagojevech invistigation, Monica Lewinsky daliance with Bill, CIS series and more American movies ….. And Oh, the Pelicano case …..

    Ampatuan and GMA was found guilty thru ignorant media. And the ignorant Fiipino people was not educated by ignorant media. Fortunately, the ameircan media informed me how invistigation should have be done.

    I hate Ampatuan and GMA, but the invistigative and judicial processes perpetuate itself that will end up in the lap of OUR DEAR ELECTED PRESIDENT …

    Just like what I have been harping about. WHAT IS GOOT A GOOT PRESIDENT IF THE REST ARE NOT GOOT!

    The answer should be OUTSOURCE OUR GOVERNMENT. It is funny, though, what I am trying to emphasize here is WE ARE NOT COMPETENT TO RUN OUR GOVERNMENT. We spend so much time arguing and analyzing AND IN THE END IT BOILS DOWN TO THE PEOPLE, BUREAUCRATS, SENATORS, CONGRESSMEN AND MOST OF ALL THE IDIOT PERYODISTAS

  9. Renato Pacifico · ·

    I betcha, people would be happy to send Ampatuan to death row and GMA hanged … but bad example to the bureaucrats who must be thinking “if we can get away with it thru duping the media, WE CAN GET AWAY WITH IT TOMORROW AND FOREVER”

  10. Renato Pacifico · ·

    The variable that needed fixing into absolutes is the information industry. THE IDIOT PERYODISTAS. They should learn more instead of perpekting their englischtzes and spelling. What goot is perpekt englischtzes and spelling if they are duping the filipino people.

    BUT FILIPINO PEOPLE STILL FALL FOR PERPEKT ENGLISCHTZES AND SPELLING. English and spelling is still an absolute barometer of credentials and IQ.

  11. “Once there is peace, Aquino said, “then we can work on the economy… Once peace is achieved, then we can go full blast.”

    Translation: Wait lang… I have to ask my yayas first.

  12. Just reading this article enlightens me about the real picture of Mindanao (as opposed from what the media pushes into my head) and who really has “plans” to address its needs.

  13. The negotiators can complain about meddling all they like, but Gordon was doing his job, looking out for his people in the Red Cross. The Red Cross, here just as anywhere, has to be able to operate without partisanship and political interference (which is why the organization can’t support his candidacy, the point that some of his critics have chosen to miss). If Gordon allowed Red Cross people to be at the mercy of the politically-motivated government efforts to free them — and in this sense, I don’t mean “politically-motivated” as necessarily bad, only that the conflict between the government and the kidnappers is a political one — he would then be damaging, through his lack of involvement, the Red Cross’ ability to act free of influence in the course of doing its usual work. And that is simply not acceptable.

  14. cyber momma · ·

    does this mean that there will be no development in Mindanao under wannabe-President Noynoy? With his peace first, then the economy? Is his plan to bring peace to Mindanao, by cutting the budget of already impoverished provinces? The dumbass shows a gross lack of understanding of the situation.

    Gordon’s way is most logical: fix the economy first, then you won’t have to fabricate peace.

  15. Not only does it show a lack of understanding, it shows a complete lack of ambition to even become vaguely informed about an issue. You can look up “mindanao” + any outside agency or interested party you can think of — UNESCO, UNDP, USAID, IMF, World Bank, US State Dept., etc. — and without exception, they all BEGIN their discussion of Mindanao by describing the problems of under-development and poverty.

    Gordon has a rational point of view, and practical ideas to actually solve problems in Mindanao. Noynoy’s statements on the matter are just a version of ‘talk to the hand, I honestly couldn’t be bothered with it.’

  16. This is funny but true.

  17. If you make Mindanao progress, then there will be peace, not the other way around. He is seriously mistaken if he want to apply a military solution to Mindanao. It is only through the proper development and management of Mindanao’s rich resources can peace be truly attained. This makes Gordon the right man for the job there. Noynoy will just waste a lot of money and lives in is “peace first” BS.

  18. why would the ampatuans be comfortable with a noynoy win?

  19. How about when Ondoy struck and there were a whole lot of relief operations organized by the Red Cross (all over Luzon, of which I was a volunteer) and we couldn’t hand out the relief goods because we had to wait for Gordon’s presence at the actual handing out process (to take pictures, I suppose)? We arrived there at 7am to hand out food, and he arrived at 2pm. Imagine people at the evacuation centers without real food to eat, waiting for 7 hours.

    Happened to my fellow volunteers at other places,too, and after that event, many of the volunteers were discouraged to volunteer for the Red Cross and opted to go to other volunteer sites (which I later found out from my organizer friend, was funded by another politician who wanted to be anonymous).

    Seems to me, Gordon is just another politician.

    note: I’m not a supporter of Noynoy either, nor any presidentiable for that matter.

  20. It’s a matter of perspective.

    As someone who has led relief operations, there is reason for being cautious with handing out the goods immediately.

    The volunteers could be handling out relief material indiscriminately – sa mga kakilala lang nila.

    And there’s also the matter of equal distribution. Some families would send out – 3 or five household members – to the detriment of other families who sent only one representative.

    When this happens (and I have seen it happen, Pinoy pa…) – this lessens the goods for other families.

  21. YES! GO GORDON! And let us from now on focus only on him. The more we mention other candidates’ names, we help people remember them. In advertising, this is what they call the recall effect. Mentioning a product or a person’s name even in negative advertising can have this effect and people remember the product or person mentioned often. That can translate to the ballot. It is important that since I guess most of us believe Gordon and his teammate–Fernando-, among all the candidates, have the grasp of what we need to succeed as a people, we should focus only on them, keep on mentioning their names to our friends and relatives and whoever can vote. The others can be considered non-existent. The more we consider them a formidable force, the more they become what we fear them to be. Go Gordon! Go! He’s the man.

  22. Sillimanian · ·

    “His handling of the ICRC hostage issue has been exemplary, too — it shows a man with a steady hand.”

    Yes, he did meddle in the hostage situation. A Senator should never interfere with the executive branch let alone a hostage situation. All demands of insurgents and Brigands are under Executive branch of Government. Gordon just should his disrespect for the Balance of Power rule.

    2nd, Gordon only joined in the hostage situation because a member of NRC has been kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf. Is he the ryt man when he has clearly disregarded the Policy of No Negotiating with Terrorist and Brigands? Does that mean when he is President he will do the same when it conflicts with his interests?

  23. Sillimanian · ·

    bt 2 wait for him 2 arrive personally? Doesn’t he have a staff in the PRC 2 go to the other sites while he is in another?

    Even with that said that just speaks of bad management…

  24. better to err on the side of caution – than distribute goods unequally.

  25. He is the CEO of the Philippine Red Cross – as such he has a more direct responsibility than the GRP.

    Who are you kidding about the no-negotiating with terrorists policy – the Government resorts to back channel talks and negotiate releases.

    I recall during Erap’s time – ASG was asking for 1M, Libyan embassy says it is willing to pay for hostages, Malacañang says ransom is now 5M… HAHAHAHA

  26. that just doesn’t make sense. so the whole operation was delayed for 7 hrs because Gordon, who was in another place, was personally trying to distribute the goods equally in our evacuation center?

    and when he arrived, the distribution just started, he did not do any management responsibilities, mind you.

  27. Wow.

    That’s just the kind of President we need- (basing from your answer) one who will let projects get delayed because he doesn’t know how to delegate tasks.

  28. actually, from his point of view, he wants to be personally satisfied that there is no pilferage at the onset. that’s all there is to it.

  29. it depends on the kinds of tasks being undertaken. knowing the specifics of the situation – the possibility of pilferage, and having to account for the donated items to the donors are matters that need to be balanced. the people will not die if they don’t get the food in 7 hours – would you rather distribute and have it pilfered such that 70% of the supplies are in the hands of hoarders? it’s a judgement call. he chose to err on the side of caution.

  30. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t this supposed “scandal” shortly afterwards de-bunked anyway? As in the rumor was spread by someone who saw something they didn’t understand and drew a conclusion from it with finding out what was really going on from a responsible party? And that the grunts doing the work at the particular site in question turned out to not have the full story, either?

  31. I’m not just spreading “rumors” here. I was actually there, smack dab in the middle of it.

    Anyway, at least I transferred to another volunteer site where we didn’t have to wait for the politician to arrive personally in order to get the operation running- from the packing to the distribution.

  32. k:

    that certainly is within your prerogative, each has a set of deliverables and KPIs which are more stringent than others, prudent management will err on the side of caution.

  33. compare that to someone who wasn’t even there – he and Erap were discussing how to unite the opposition. 😀

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