Senate OKs proposal to declare every Jan 17 as ‘James Gordon Day’
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate passed on third and final reading a proposed measure declaring every January 17 as “James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day” and a special non-working holiday in Olongapo City and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
The proposal was aimed to recognize the achievements, contributions, and heroism of James Leonard Tagle Gordon, the first-elected mayor of Olongapo City.
Seventeen senators voted in favor of the bill’s passage, the Senate said Monday.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri in February last year introduced Joint Resolution No. 6, which calls for declaring January 17 as James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day.
The said resolution was adopted by 18 other senators, proposing the same.
“For his invaluable service to uplift the lives of the people of Olongapo through his exemplary leadership providing hope and inspiration to future generations, Mayor James Leonard Tagle Gordon deserved to be commemorated on his birth centenary,” Zubiri said in his resolution.
According to the Senate, James Gordon, father of incumbent Senator Richard Gordon, was born to an American Marine father and a Filipina mother. He was born on January 17, 1917 and chose to stay in the Philippines as a Filipino citizen.
The older Gordon exposed the abuses and harassment suffered by Olongapo residents under US military rule and was part of the Philippine panel that negotiated and compelled US authorities to relinquish Olongapo to the Philippine government.
Olongapo was turned over to the Philippines on December 7, 1959 – the same day President Carlos Garcia signed an executive order making Olongapo a municipality of Zambales.
Gordon, the Senate said, also lobbied in Congress for the passage of a bill converting the municipality of Olongapo into a city, despite strong opposition from the provincial government. In 1966, then President Ferdinand Marcos signed Republic Act No. 4665 converting Olongapo into a chartered city.
The Senate said Gordon managed to quell crimes specifically illegal logging, as well as smuggling of firearms, cigarettes, and contraband from the military base and launched a crusade against corrupt members of the Philippine Constabulary.
An untiring fighter of graft and corruption, Gordon also fought well-entrenched politicians against widespread corruption and won the case, albeit posthumously, returning the electrical system to the Olongapo government.
Gordon, the Senate noted, survived assassination attempts in 1965 and 1966.
However, on February 20, 1967, while addressing his constituents on the first floor of the Olongapo City Hall, he was gunned down and killed by a fugitive of the National Penitentiary. /kga
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