MANILA, Philippines – Jesse Manalastas Robredo was known as a visionary for his non-traditional approach in government. He was credited with transforming Naga City and reenergizing the government there. Carmela Fonbuena reports.
Good and Decent. That is how people describe Jesse Robredo.
He received the highest honors – the Ramon Magsaysay Awards for Government Service – Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize.
When he was mayor, Robredo run Naga City like a CEO turning around a bankrupt company.
He closed the budget deficit, institutionalized involvement of civil society organizations in governance, allowed public access to government transactions, and eradicated jueteng.
His appointment to the DILG – a very political agency – gave him the opportunity to make a difference on a national scale.
But he had his critics. Naga City, after all, is a park compared to the jungle that is the whole Philippines.
And Manila politics proved difficult.
What he did with jueteng in Naga was harder to do nationwide.
Archbishop Oscar Cruz: It was found out that jutting was too big a gambling syndicate. It would take more than the DILG secretary to get it out.
But they said the same things about him when he was Mayor and he proved them wrong.
Employees did notice some change when Robredo took over.
He is very hands-on, they say. He doesn’t just deal with the top brass. He visits the ground to check that his programs are working.
Where he could bring the DILG, now we will never know.
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