Janine V. Samelo
Since his tragic death in Masbate became the talk of the town these past few weeks, I
don’t even know who Jesse Lobredo is. Being a student, I felt the responsibility of knowing him
because the news, articles, and many other write-ups that have been published about him
pronounce that he is a man of great character.
Jesse Manalastas Robredo was a born in a Chinese family on May 27, 1958 in Naga
City. Being in a family where academic performance is valued, he became a competitive
student. He was a graduate of Mechanical Engineering in De La Salle and a graduate of
Masters in Public Administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
I remember myself studying under pressure of my parents and relatives with high
expectations. That is quite hard for my part because since I was in grade school, I was required
to be in the honor roll in order to please them.
“The most important ingredient of leadership is character. Most of the proficiencies can
be learned, but what's inside you is something that's difficult to change”, secretary Robredo said
once in a television documentary.
In 1988, he became the youngest mayor of his time at the age of 29. He developed his
sleeping hometown Naga into one of the prominent cities here in the Philippines. During his six
three-year terms, he improved roads, bridges, drainage system and many other infrastructures.
He also implemented campaigns against illegal logging and other environmental projects. He
enhanced the operations in the city hall and persuaded the youth to take part in the local
government. He unshackled the town from illegal gambling and incompetent local
Because of his aptitude, Robredo was elected as the president of the League of Cities of
the Philippines or LCP in 1995. He was also elected as the chairman of the Regional
Development Council which comprises of six provinces and seven cities in Bicol from 1992 to
His excellent accomplishments made him earn different recognitions. In the year 1996,
he received the Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) Award. He was also awarded
the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines and the 1998 Konrad Anadeur Medal of
Excellence as Most Outstanding City Mayor of the Philippines. He was the first ever recipient of
“Dangal ng Bayan” Award of the Civil Service Commission. Most of all, in 2000, he received the
prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Good Governance which corresponds to the Nobel
When I was in first year high school I was chosen as the leader of the of the Kriska
(Kristiyanong Kapitbahayan) group. It was my duty to record and summarize all the scores of
my classmates in the Christian Living. When I was in fourth year, I was elected as the president
of the Social Science Academic Society of our school. From my leadership experiences I may
say that having a high position is not a privilege after all because there is a responsibility that
gives weight on your shoulders, how much more for Robredo?
He was appointed as the Secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government in
July 2010. However his entrance in the national politics didn’t appear good because due to
mishandling of Manila hostage crisis along with Rico Puno on August 23, 2010. But this didn’t
hinder him do his duties. Being a DILG secretary is not an easy work because there are many
sectors are under his leadership like the LGUs and PNP.
“He was very kind and hard-working. He was always in a hurry because for him, every
minute counted. He wanted to accomplish many things here in the DILG,” said Vicencia Sta.
Ana, Robredo’s appointmented secretary.
Under his term, the DILG has commenced the investigation and filing of charges against
those individuals involved in counterfeit procurement contracts through the Criminal and
Investigation and Detecting Groups (CIDG). He introduced the Seal of Disaster Preparedness to
help LGUs deal with disasters and calamities. He also adopted the Performance Management
System (LGPMS), a tool to measure LGU performance, by turning it into an assessment tool
validated by third-party assessment.
In the PNP, he made sure that there is a better civilian security amid threats of terrorism
and reports on high crimes such as car napping and kidnapping.
Although he was a very busy man, he still manages to find time for his family. During the
eulogy for him, President Aquino had mentioned that he was always in hurry to get home in
Naga not minding the distance from his working office just to be with his family. He even decline
party invitations for this. He habitually texts his wife about what he is doing at work- a sweet
gesture for a husband. Acquiring a high position in the government didn’t make him big-headed.
His wife said that he just pile those signature t-shirts given to him in his cabinet. At work, he
doesn’t want to be treated like a boss. All these qualities make up a good leader.
If I would be given the chance to be successful in my chosen career, I will probably
follow Jesse’s path. Not just by being a politician like him but by upholding the values he
obliviously showed during his term of service. He once said, “Kung panahon mo na, kahit anong
gawin mong pagtatago, panahon mo na. Kung anong nakatakda, siyang mangyayari. ” “He was
never afraid to die.”, said his wife. It is because he felt that he has already done his purpose
here on earth.
Indeed, Jesse Robredo’s death is such a big loss not just for his family but for every one
of us. He is a man of service, humility, industry and honesty worth emulating.