Press Release
February 2, 2010

Gordon presses House to ratify Red Cross bill
Ninth ray bill also pending House approval

Senator Richard Gordon today pressed for the immediate ratification of the bill amending the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Charter, which is pending in the House of Representatives, before Congress adjourns on Feb. 5.

Gordon, the recently re-elected PRC chairman and the chief author of Senate Bill 3285 (Philippine Red Cross Charter of 2009), said the Senate has already ratified the bicameral conference committee report last Nov. 17, but the measure is still pending ratification of lawmakers in the House.

"The Red Cross has always been at the forefront of every disaster. And I cannot understand why this bill, which harms no one, but only clarifies the independent nature of the PRC and preserves the principles it adheres to, is not yet ratified by the House more than two months after the Senate did," he said, stressing that he would continue to lobby for the measure until it is enacted into law.

"This bill reiterates the actual intent of the law and clarifies it once and for all so that there can be no more questions as to the objective of the government to recognize the PRC as an independent body. Although the PRC is an auxiliary to the government, its purposes are humanitarian, its purposes are pursuant to the Geneva Conventions," he added.

The senator said that the bill also clarifies the exemption of the organization from payment of all direct and indirect taxes, fees and other charges of all kinds. He stressed that the PRC does not receive a budget from the national government. It has been given tax exempt status on its donations of real property but remains subject to real property tax.

Meanwhile, Gordon also urged House lawmakers to ratify another measure he authored, logged in the Senate as SB 3307 (Flag and Heraldic Code), which has been approved by senators on Oct. 14, 2009.

The bill introduces changes to the Flag and Heraldic Code, most importantly the addition of a ninth ray to the sun's flag that would represent the Muslims who were the first to triumph against Spanish invaders.

"This bill seeks to respect, understand and accept our cultural minorities, particularly the Muslims. It adds a ninth ray to the sun, which should have been the first ray because the Muslims were the first ones to fight against Spain ," Gordon said.

"This is a great step in recognizing the efforts of our Muslim brothers, in fostering unity, and in making sure that nobody is excluded. If we are to have national unity in this country it must be symbolized in the most heraldic item of national importance the Philippine flag," he stressed.

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