Press Release
January 14, 2019

Senate OKs bill declaring Jan. 17 as James Leonard Tagle Gordon Day

The Senate passed on third and final reading the bill declaring every January 17 a special non-working holiday in Olongapo City and Subic Bay Freeport Zone, in recognition of the achievements, contributions and heroism of James Leonard Tagle Gordon.

Among those who voted for the passage of House Bill No. 8648 were Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Francis "Chiz" Escudero, Win Gatchalian, Gregorio Honasan, Risa Hontiveros, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Grace Poe, Antonio Trillanes IV, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto and Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III.

Angara, chair of the committee on local government, stood as sponsor of the bill.

James Gordon, the first elected mayor of Olongapo City, was the father of incumbent Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon. Sen. Gordon likewise served as Olongapo City mayor from 1988 to 1993.

Despite being an American - his father John Jacob was an American marine and mother Veronica Tagle, a Filipina - James Gordon exposed the abuses and harassment suffered by Olongapo residents under the US military rule.

He was, in fact, part of the Philippine panel that negotiated and compelled the US authorities to relinquish Olongapo to the Philippine government and this took place on Dec. 7, 1959, the day when then Pres. Carlos P. Garcia signed the executive order making it a municipality of Zambales.

Born on Jan. 17, 1917, James Gordon chose to stay in the Philippines as a Filipino citizen.

In his three years as mayor, James Gordon lobbied in Congress for the passage of a bill converting the municipality of Olongapo into a city, amid strong opposition from the provincial government.

In 1966, then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos signed RA 4665 converting Olongapo into a chartered city.

He likewise managed to quell crimes specifically illegal logging, smuggling of firearms, cigarettes and contraband from the military base and launched a crusade against corrupt members of the Philippine Constabulary (PC).

An untiring fighter of graft and corruption, he fought well-entrenched politicians against widespread corruption and won the case, albeit posthumously, returning the electrical system to the Olongapo government.

James Gordon was an entrepreneur and businessman and was also one of the founders of Olongapo Rotary Club, Olongapo Knights of Columbus and Olongapo Businessmen's Association.

He and his wife Amelia Juico Gordon, along with some friends, established the Olongapo Boys Town and Girls Home in 1969, an orphanage for abandoned children of Filipino-American parents.

He survived assassination attempts in 1965 and 1966 but on Feb. 20, 1967, while addressing his constituents on the first floor of the Olongapo City Hall, he was gunned down and killed by an escaped inmate of the National Penitentiary.

Incidentally, Zubiri introduced Joint Resolution No. 6 in Feb. last year which was adopted by 18 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's resolution said.

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