'We can’t lose Robredo’
MANILA, Philippines - “We have hopes because a man can survive 4 or 5 days drifting at sea. Or it’s possible he may have found a small island.”
Political Affairs Undersecretary Jose Luis “Chito” Gascon is not giving up hopes even if it’s been more than 24 hours since the plane of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo crashed off the waters of Masbate. He and the two pilots of the 6-seater Piper Seneca plane remain missing.
“We continue to pray that we find Secretary Jess and his two other companions. We also pray for strength for the family. We know it’s a very difficult time. We continue to keep asking everybody to keep the vigil up. The venue closes at 12"30 am, but we know that everybody keeps praying for Secretary Jess,” said a teary-eyed Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson.
“We can’t [lose him]. We can’t,” she added.
At 5 pm on Sunday -- about the same time that Robredo's plane crashed on Saturday -- Gascon, Valte, and about 400 others gathered for a Mass at the National Shrine of the Divine Child inside La Salle Greenhills. It was the 2nd day of a vigil for Robredo. Among those present were members of the Cabinet, President Aquino’s relatives led by his sister Viel, employees of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), his partymates, friends, and supporters.
Before the Mass, they recited the Novena to the Virgin of Peñafrancia, the patron saint of the Bicol region, where Robredo comes from.
"In the hours of peril, adversity, and affliction, above all, in the hour of my death, appear before your Divine Son to help me and defend me. Tell him that I am your devotee. That having complete trust in your affection, I kneel before your miraculous image to ask for your powerful intercession," they read together.
Valte said the prayers are giving them strength. “We’re keeping each other’s hope afloat. We’re keeping each other up,” she said.
The Malacañang officials were there in full force, taking care of the little details. Rappler found them arranging Monobloc chairs themselves before the Mass and talking to the media, asking them to remain in designated areas.
It was Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita "Ging" Deles who organized the vigil. “I guess this is the effort that we put out for Secretary Jess. Essentially this is family. We do it for family,” Valte said.
As DILG Secretary, Robredo was constantly in Malacañang to meet the President or other Cabinet officials.
A great mentor
Gascon and Valte echoed each other in saying the government can’t lose Robredo because he still needs to inspire and mentor a lot of public servants.
Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Senior Inspector Ramon Capundag is among those he inspired. "He has a different style of management [compared to previous DILG secretaries]. He is very hands-on. He doesn't just deal with the top brass. He makes sure to visit the fire stations to check that his programs are working," he told Rappler.
Capundag said they also feel Robredo's sincerity in modernizing the DILG. (BFP is under DILG.)
Valte said she learned a lot from Robredo. “I’m new in government. He’s always been very patient with new public servants like me. He takes time to teach. He’s very patient. I’ve never seen him lose his temper with anybody. And you know at the bottom of it, he is a kind man,” she said.
Gascon said Robredo has to continue teaching other local officials how he – as mayor for 6 terms – turned Naga City into a dynamic city.
“Isang siyang taong dapat tularan ng lahat ng lingkod bayan. Kaya kailangang kailangan natin si Secretary Robredo na mailigtas dito. Ang kanyang ehemplo ay isang ehemplo na kailangang ipalaganap sa nakakarami,” said Gascon. (He is a model for all public servants that's why we really need to have him rescued. His example is one that should be spread to many.)
“Marami pang trabahong kailangang gawin. Kailangan sa pinaka-maagang panahon mahanap si Secretary Robredo,” added Gascon. (There's a lot more to be done. Secretary Robredo should be found at the soonest possible time.) - Rappler.com
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