Ninoy and RobredoCebu Daily News
The recovery of the remains of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo from the depths of the sea off Masbate yesterday morning gave Aug. 21 a new meaning.
The day was the memorial of the assassination 29 years ago at the then Manila International Airport of opposition leader Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., father of President Benigno Aquino III.
For some time, Ninoy and Robredo were contemporaries, and now that the latter is no longer with us, a grieving people are seeing that his accomplishments were clearly born of the same fount of patriotism that inspired the former in fighting dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
In fact the death of Ninoy played a crucial role in the social awakening of Robredo, who had attended the former’s wake and thereafter joined marches against the dictatorship.
Ninoy distinguished himself for courageously denouncing the excesses of government when no one would. When the opportunity presented itself Marcos had him arrested and Ninoy spent more than seven years in jail shedding the politico in him to grow more and more a statesman.
Robredo distinguished himself for transforming Naga City from a third class to a first class city when most mayors liked to rule their locales as if they were their own fiefdoms. When the opportunity presented itself he brought his visionary leadership from the city to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
He enforced President Aquino’s directive barring officials from placing their names and faces on public property to take credit for them and opened the accounts of the DILG to public scrutiny. He was even open to suggestions from the public as to how the money should be spent.
Ninoy fought for the restoration of our civil liberties and the return of democracy. From exile in the United States, he came home to try to talk some sense into an overstaying president who in effect claimed that no one but he knew how to make the nation great again.
Robredo fought for Filipinos to harness their civil liberties and facilitate the maturation of democracy. From performing his duties in Cebu, he was rushing home to attend awarding rites for a daughter, showing that fulfilling one’s commitment to family is at the core of nation-building.
A bullet felled Ninoy in a virtual public execution. His death, like a mirror, showed Filipinos the pits to which strongman rule brought them and ignited a new wave of resistance to it that culminated in the 1986 Edsa People Power revolution.
A plane crash claimed Robredo in a literal national horror. His death, like a magnifying glass, showed Filipinos the heights they can attain and may yet ignite a new wave of bayanihan that features genuinely participatory and transparent government.
Two great men passed away on an Aug. 21. Filipinos can prove their gratefulness by rejecting every threat to democracy like Ninoy did and doing what they can to contribute to good governance as Robredo did.
More from this Column:
- Plugging the holes
- Fall of (some of ) Cebu’s old guard
- Enhancing notoriety
- Peace must reign in polls
- Election operators
Tags: Jesse Robredo