Outside Metro, LGU execs, workers mournPhilippine Daily Inquirer
Local government officials, employees and people who had encounters with Jesse Robredo, no matter how briefly, went on mourning nationwide just as news of the discovery of his body in a plane crash site in Masbate spread outside Metro Manila.
In provinces, towns and villages in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao where Robredo touched lives, directly or indirectly, governors, mayors, coworkers and civil society leaders recounted how the late local government secretary changed the image they had of a civil servant.
In Basilan, a province wracked by crimes, Bishop Martin Jumoad recalled how Robredo was quick to get in touch whenever the bishop sounded the alarm on rising criminality.
“He always responded to text messages and calls,” said the bishop, who recently issued a pastoral letter condemning government’s failure to stop lawlessness in Basilan.
“He was always around for everyone,” said Jumoad.
On the day his body was found, according to the bishop, Robredo was expected to be in Basilan for a meeting with the province’s peace and order council that was called to discuss how to bring peace and order back to the province.
In another violence-wracked place, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Robredo was most remembered for his commitment to instituting reforms.
Mujiv Hataman, acting ARMM governor, said Robredo was also key to uniting leaders in the autonomous region. “He was very consistent,” said Hataman.
Mamintal Adiong, governor of Lanao del Sur and a fraternity brother of Robredo at the Alpha Phi Omega, said access to Robredo was easy. “We could easily take up with him any problem affecting my province,” said Adiong.
In Maguindanao, a visibly sad Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu said Robredo was a friend of his province.
“We would have wanted to see him back but we put our trust and faith in Allah,” said Mangudadatu.
“Why do good men die ahead of the bad ones?” said Douglas Cagas, governor of Davao del Sur.
Debbie Torres, local government officer of Digos City, was in tears when she was asked to comment on Robredo’s death. “He was not only our boss,” said Torres. “He was our father.”
Joel Ray Lopez, mayor of Sta. Cruz town in Davao del Sur, said one thing he would not forget about Robredo is the late secretary’s commitment to the war on corruption.
“He really encouraged us to implement good housekeeping in government service,” said Lopez.
In Sarangani, Gov. Miguel Dominguez said the education reforms that Robredo, while still mayor of Naga City, helped bring are now being felt by students in the province.
“He was a mentor who helped me introduce education reforms in Sarangani,” said Dominguez.
“Sarangani is so far away from Naga (City), but because of Jesse the future of Sarangani children has become brighter,” Dominguez said.
In Robredo’s home province of Camarines Sur, Gov. Luis “LRay” Villafuerte Jr. said in a statement that the provincial council passed a resolution to honor Robredo’s work.
Villafuerte said in the statement that Robredo brought honor to the province through his dedication to good governance.
In Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, the city government expressed condolences to Robredo’s family through an electronic billboard that flashed the message: “The City of Sta. Rosa mourns the loss of a friend and partner. Goodbye, Sec. Jess Robredo.”
Fr. Robert Reyes, activist priest, said Robredo had won the trust of the homeless.
“He walked, listened and dreamed with the urban poor,” said Reyes, spiritual director of the group Urban Poor Associates.
Mass in Visayas
In the Visayas, Mass was celebrated and flags flew at half-staff.
Jed Patrick Mabilog, Iloilo City mayor and a student of Robredo at Ateneo de Manila University’s masters in public management program, said Robredo “was an epitome of a good servant and leader.”
In Tacloban City, Mayor Alfred Romualdez ordered Philippine flags at City Hall and all government buildings flown at half-staff. Robredo, said the mayor, “will surely be missed but not forgotten.”
Jerry Treñas, Iloilo congressman, said local government units “lost a champion of good governance and an advocate of transparency.”
At the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) regional office in Western Visayas, officials and workers said they lost not only a role model but a father as well.
“He restored the dignity of the department,” said Evelyn Trompeta, DILG Western Visayas head.
In Pampanga, the provincial government offered Mass on Tuesday for Robredo, whom Gov. Lilia Pineda described as a “friend of Pampanga.”
Julie Alipala, Charlie Señase, Edwin Fernandez, Orlando Dinoy and Aquiles Z. Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao; Nestor Burgos Jr., Carla Gomez, Jhunnex Napallacan, Joey Gabieta, Jani Arnaiz and Felipe Celino, Inquirer Visayas; Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Maricar Cinco, Inquirer Southern Luzon