VP Robredo: Jesse’s spirit lives in me

Patty Pasion
VP Robredo: Jesse’s spirit lives in me
Vice President Leni Robredo commemorates her husband's death anniversary for the first time as the country's second top official

MANILA, Philippines – Four years after Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo died in a plane crash, his wife, now Vice President Leni Robredo, says she continues to draw inspiration from his style of leadership. 

“Kahit iba na iyong responsibilidad natin, iba na iyong posisyon na pinanghahawakan, marami pa ring aral ang napupulot ko sa kanyang buhay,” Robredo said on the sidelines of the commemoration of her husband’s death anniversary in Camarines Sur on Thursday, August 18.

(Even if I have a different responsibility now, a different position, I still pick up many lessons from his life.) 

“Kapag binabalikan ko iyong mga sinabi niya dati, parang kahit iba ang sitwasyon noon, parang iyong mga sinasabi niya p’wede kong sabihin ngayon. Kasi pareho iyong pakiramdam namin, pareho iyong kung papaano namin hinaharap ang mga suliranin,” she added.  

(When I go back to the things he said before, even if the situation is different then, it seems what he said before, I can still say it now. Because we have the same feeling. We have the same way of dealing with problems.)  

Before former president Benigno Aquino III appointed Jesse Robredo to lead the Department of the Interior and Local Government, he was a longtime mayor of Naga City. (READ: Jesse Robredo: ‘If I were President…’)

All those years, Leni was a lawyer doing advocacy work with various sectors and offering pro bono legal services if needed.  

Wearing tsinelas (slippers) and immersing in communities to involve his constituents in policy making became Jesse’s brand of leadership. Leni later used the symbol of this “tsinelas leadership” in her campaign for the vice presidency in 2016. (READ: Robredo’s ‘tsinelas’ leadership

Photo from the Office of the Vice President

Follow Jesse’s lead 

“This is the type of leadership that brings out the best in people,” the Vice President said on Thursday in a mix of English and Filipino. 

“Lagi niyang sinasabi na ang lungsod namin naging maunlad hindi lang dahil siya ay mahusay kundi dahil mahusay din ang kanyang mga kasamahan sa city hall,” Robredo said.

(He would always say that our city is progressive not because of him being a good leader but because the people who worked with him in city hall were competent.)

“This is the leadership that is not centered on one person alone. This is the legacy that will stay strong after you have gone,” she added. (READ: For yuppies who want to quit, a word from Jesse Robredo

Robredo, who attended the Social Development Summit in Davao City on Wednesday, flew back to Manila to take the bus to Naga City in the evening and catch the early morning mass for her husband’s 4th death anniversary on Thursday.

Their 3 daughters were set to attend Mass and a gathering of political allies in Manila Thursday evening. 

In 2012, Secretary Robredo’s plane crashed off Masbate Airport. Authorities said the aircraft had already encountered problems the moment it flew from Cebu. His body was found inside the plane after 3 days of search in the Masbate City coast. –

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Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.