Gone Too Soon: Jesse Robredo

By N. Mark Castro

Few politicians in the Philippines have left an indelible mark in the national psyche. Fewer still that captured the nation’s hearts and imagination: of what could be.

Jesse Manalastas Robredo was one of those.

Prior to his appointment of the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), he served for six terms as Mayor of Naga City in Camarines Sur. In Philippine politics, 6  terms is nothing, yet in recognition of his achievements, he was conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 2000, the first Filipino mayor so honored.

Some of his distinctive achievements were:

  • Transforming the Naga City from being dull and lethargic to being one of the “Most Improved Cities in Asia”, as cited byAsiaweek Magazine.
  • Dramatically improving stakeholdership and people participation in governance, in the process restoring Naga to its preeminent position as premier city of the Bicol Region.
  • In recognition of his skills and competence as a leader and development manager, Robredo was elected President of the League of Cities of the Philippines, the national association of city mayors.
  • He also chaired the Metro Naga Development Council.
  • He was also elected Chairman of the Regional Development Council, the regional planning and coordinative body of Bicol’s six provinces and seven cities.”

But what is considered as his “crown jewel” legacy is his “Full Disclosure Policy (FDP), which he initiated when he was a neophyte mayor, where they published the disbursement of government funds and the commensurate projects attached to it. He took this same policy when he assumed his Cabinet position, requiring all local governments to disclose 12 important financial documents – in public places – to show the public how funds are spent.

Based on Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations surveys, 1,697 or 99% of local government units (LGUs) have complied with this as of June, according to the DILG.

That shows how effective he was, despite the short amount of time he had spent as Cabinet Secretary.

But what is most heartening to know about the late Secretary Jesse Robredo was that, despite the nationwide power he wielded among local elected and appointed officials, tempted by fleeting fancy left and right, and supporters that lived off the shadow of his power, he religiously went home on weekends to be with his family.

Coming from an official function he attended in Cebu City, he hastily left after the proceedings to hurry home to his home province. He decided not to take the commercial flight and found a Piper Seneca plane that could take him from Cebu to Naga. His plane made an emergency landing and crashed off the shore of Masbate Island. Days were spent to search for him, with the entire nation gripped in prayers, until they found his dead remains.

He was in a rush to get his work done.

He was in a rush to get home.

Because he wanted to be there for the awards ceremony of his daughter who had won a local competition.

Jesse Robredo may be one of Philippine history’s most transparent and effective statesman and politician … but he is definitely one of the best fathers in the world.

May you rest in peace.

About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the chief political communications strategist for PT AsiaLeads, a political and communications policy-making body based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He is also the Executive Director at the Southeast Asia Consulting Group, an investment advisory company assisting clients roll out their presence for the ASEAN Economic Integration in partnership with government. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on August 23, 2012, in General, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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