FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS bestows their first posthumous Filipino of the Year award to the late Secretary of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Jesús “Jesse” Robredo y Manalastás, PLH (27 May 1958 – 18 August 2012).
Last 18th of August, the Piper PA-34-200 Seneca I aircraft carrying Secretary Robredo crashed off the shore of Masbate Island. He was about to go home to watch his daughter’s swimming competition in his beloved Naga City, Camarines Sur where he was elected mayor in 1988 at the age of 29. He was said to be the youngest mayor in Philippine History, but that is false – remember that the country’s first president, Emilio Aguinaldo, served as Cavite El Viejo‘s capitán municipal (formerly known as gobernadorcillo, equivalent to today’s town mayor) when he was only 26 years old… but that’s another story.
FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS do not believe in posthumous awards. Honors ought to be given to an awardee while he is still alive. But this one has to be an exception. Let us admit it: Mr. Robredo was not as popular today when he was alive. Stories about his exceptional leadership began to surface only after his tragic demise. Nevertheless, all those stories and testimonies about him are true. He really was an exceptional local executive. The people of Naga City gave him a mandate of two three-term reigns (1988-1998, 2001-2010) before he was appointed as DILG secretary last 9 July 2010.
Thank you, sir Jesse, for inspiring Filipino politicians to practice good governance and to be with the masses at all times.
In this era of government ineptness, neglect, and corruption people search for role models who can show the difference. Robredo became one such model. Amidst the ostentatious and scandal-ridden lifestyle of most public officials, Robredo’s was special. Public service, however, is not only about transparency but bringing about lasting social and economic change.