6th in a series on ANC's presidential youth forum at De La Salle University, Jan. 29, 2010
|Sen. Gordon holding a Kindle e-book reader.|
MANILA, Philippines - Presidential candidate Richard Gordon claims he's got big perks for students and teachers if he wins in the 2010 election.
In ANC's Youth 2010 presidential forum held at De La Salle University in Taft on Friday, Gordon promised free Kindle e-book readers for public school students and P40,000 in monthly salaries for teachers should he be elected president.
Current teacher's salaries, Gordon explained, are around P12,000 to P15,000 a month, compared to P122,000 a month for teachers in Singapore.
"Gusto ko, P40,000 ang suweldo ng teacher kaagad in the next 6 years. (I want to raise teacher's salaries to P40,000 in the next 6 years)," Gordon said.
Raising teacher's salaries, he said, will attract skilled graduates to teach in schools.
Skilled teachers can raise students' academic performance even at the kindergarten or elementary grade levels, Gordon added.
E-books for all
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He also mapped out a plan to fund a $1.7 billion (or P85 billion) project to give 17 million students a Kindle electronic book reader.
"You can get an electronic book where you can put in the entire curriculum of the school from grade school to college," the senator said.
Kindle, released by online book retailer Amazon.com, is a device that allows people to read digital versions of books. Gordon said it is priced at $100 wholesale.
To fund the Kindle project, Gordon said plans to cut down on corruption, which amounts to about 300 billion pesos.
If this does not work, he plans to improve mining, an industry reportedly worth $1-trillion, to give additional funding for the free e-book reader project.
If both do not work, Gordon said the quickest way to raise funds is through a "text for education" campaign, where P0.50 from every 2 billion text messages will be used to fund teacher's salaries and the Kindle project.
To Gibo's rescue?
Gordon got cheers from supporters of Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidiate Gilberto Teodoro Jr. at the forum when he defended the former defense chief against what he thought were "editorialized" questions from the forum's moderator, Ted Failon.
Failon had called attention to the fact that Teodoro was the lone candidate who did not definitively answer a question on whether president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should be held accountable for anomalies during her term.
Teodoro said he will not criticize Arroyo, who appointed him as defense chief in 2007, but he will not stop anyone from criticizing her.
Failon then asked candidates and the audience whether they agreed with Teodoro's answer.
"I don't think we should editorialize here. I think that's what Gibo said, the president is in his party, then let him answer that. I'm just trying to be careful. I don't want to be argumentative here, it's hard for us to pander to popular opinion," Gordon said.
"Let's not ask kung tama ba ang sagot niya. (Let's not ask if his answer is right)," he said.
Big fish to fry
Earlier, however, Gordon, who is Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman, took potshots at the president and the former defense chief for failing to explain why military arms and bullets ended up in the hands of Mindanao warlords.
If he wins as president, Gordon said he will ask courts to investigate and resolve corruption cases against government officials like Arroyo within 1 year and 6 months.
Delegating the task, he said, means he can go after "bigger fish" and focus on the country's problems.
He also recommended that the Constitution be amended to make the position of Ombudsman, whose office investigates and prosecutes errant government officials, as an elective rather than an appointive post.
He said the Ombudsman must not be a classmate or close friend of the First Family, a reference to current Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who was a law school batchmate First Gentleman Miguel "Mike" Arroyo.
She also served as presidential legal counsel.
Gordon and his Bagumbayan Party (composed of him and vice-presidential candidate Bayani Fernando) were also asked about the brand of leadership they offer.
Critics and political analysts have previously noted that Gordon and Bayani's strict and uncompromising leadership style is "dictatorial."
"I don't think Filipinos are ready for dictatorship, they are ready for Dick Gordon," the senator quipped. "However, I can tell you this. What we need is firm and fair leadership."
He said the country needs strong leaders who are clearly against corruption, focused on the country's problems, and are not willing to bend the rules for the Filipino elite or foreigners.
Some viewers who watched the forum told ABS-CBN News they were impressed by Gordon's articulate speeches and detailed plans for the presidency.However, both Gordon and Fernando have yet to clinch support from the poor, who comprise the bulk of voters.