Cebuano leaders pay homage to Robredo

Posted on August 22, 2012

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Government employees and Cebu’s officials joined the country in mourning the death of Interior and Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo following confirmation on the discovery of his remains in the waters off Masbate City yesterday morning.

Employees of the Department of Interior and Local Government in Central Visayas (DILG-7) went to their office despite the holiday to hold a memorial service for Robredo.

“The entire DILG Region 7 laments the sudden death of our beloved secretary. We think of him as a family member and a parent of our department,” said DILG-7 Regional Director Ananias Villacorta.

The agency will hold a Mass to be followed by the first prayer for their nine-day novena. “I’m honored to have served him at least in a small capacity here in Region 7,” said DILG-7 Asst. Regional Director Elias Fernandez.

Fernandez was one of the officials who escorted Robredo to the hangar of Aviatours Air before his fateful flight last Saturday.

Villacorta said Robredo was known for his insistence on full disclosure, which became unpopular with officials.

“I heard from our field officers is that there are those who disliked Robredo because he made them busy,” he said. Villacorta also said Robredo didn’t insist on favoring Liberal Party allies in the Seal of Good Housekeeping program.

One of the recipients was Cebu province, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said.

Garcia recounted talking with Robredo during an event at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC).

“I thanked him for conferring us the Seal of Good Housekeeping since we received P35 million from DILG. He even laughed and said ‘P35 million only?’ I also laughed and said in jest, “Is there more?” she said.
Villacorta said Robredo was always busy since he wanted to accommodate everyone.

“We just hope that whoever will replace him will continue implementing the projects he started,” he said.

In an interview after the Mass held for Robredo, Rep. Tomas Osmena of Cebu City’s south district said Robredo supported him when he ran for president of the League of Cities of the Philippines back in the 90s.

“I’m really at a loss of words. To me, he is the most qualified person to lead this country; to become the president of the Philippines,” Osmena told reporters.

He praised Robredo for his good works. “He’s very influential. Of the Cabinet members, he was the most influential in the NGO community. He’s the only mayor I’ve seen where businessmen ask to increase taxes. He always makes consultations,” Osmeña said.

Senior Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, Cebu City police chief, said his mother worked as chief nurse in Naga City’s biggest hospital and was close to Robredo during his time as mayor there.

“He is very active and is known to be good public servant,” Buenafe said.

The Mass for Robredo was held at the St. Francis Xavier Chapel of the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in D. Jakosalem Street, Cebu City yesterday afternoon.

In his homily, Fr. Eduardo Jorge Anzorena, SJ, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee, lauded Robredo for kindness and brand of leadership.

An architect-priest, Fr. Anzorena said Robredro asked him to design houses for the poor in Naga City.

The Mass was sponsored by the Pagtambayayong Foundation, a group working for the urban poor.

“We come together to pray for him. We’re asking God to receive Jesse with Him. We also ask God that Jesse’s ideals will be completed,” he said.

Liberal Party (LP) Cebu chairman Hilario Davide III said the country lost a “crusader for good governance.”
He said he felt a personal loss since he became friends with the DILG secretary during the 2010 campaigns for the elections.

“He was a valuable ally and a pillar of the Liberal Party. He was working very hard as a DILG secretary. I find him simple, down-to-earth and a very decent man. I am deeply saddened by his death,” Davide said.

Davide, also a DILG consultant for special projects in the Visayas, said he last met Robredo in a July 20 forum spearheaded by the agency and the Church.

He said Robredo told him not to hesitate to call if there are problems in the province.

Governor Garcia also recalled that it was Robredo who first offered help in assisting the occupants of the province-owned lots under Provincial Ordinance 93-1.

“He was dedicated and he was there when he was needed,” she said.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he will order the flag at City Hall to be flown at half mast in mourning for the deaths of Robredo, Capt. Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese pilot Kshitiz Chand.

Rama said he will also meet to discuss a plan to give a lifesaver’s award to Bahinting and cash aid to his family.

Bahinting delivered anti-venom from Camiguin province to a Cebu City zoo worker bitten by a King Cobra last week.

Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal called on Cebuanos to pray for Robredo, Bahinting and Chand and their families.

Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said while she only met Robredo four times, he made her feel comfortable.
Magpale noted that a heavy downpour took place after the Mass, saying that the “the heavens cried” in the wake of Robredo’s death.

“There could have been more things he can taught us,” she said. Patricia Andrea D. Pateña Marian Z. Codilla and Ador Vincent Mayol with Correspondents Chito Aragon, Carmel Loise Matus, Chief of Reporters Doris C. Bongcac and PIT Intern Sheila Marie Bilbao

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