DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 August) – Sarangani Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez has so many things to thank Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo for, best of all, on behalf of the children of Sarangani, and of thousands more in Mindanao.
“Because of Jesse, the future of the children in Sarangani is brighter,” Dominguez says.
Dominguez credits Robredo, then mayor of faraway Naga, “for mentoring me in 2007 in developing an education reform agenda together with Synergia Foundation.”
“In less than five years, Sarangani became the top performing province in the region in education for primary and secondary, from being the worst performing province, says Dominguez, who is happy he was able to “ thank him last month when I saw him and told him that the seeds that he had planted in Sarangani have borne fruit.”
Then Mayor Robredo visited Sarangani in 2007 to meet with local officials, the Department of Education and civil society.
But it wasn’t just Dominguez whom Robredo mentored and inspired but also a number of mayors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). He named them as Mayor Japer Que of Bongao in Tawi-tawi; Mayor Husin Amin of Jolo, Sulu; Mayor Abdulkarim Langkuno of Paglat, Mayor Mohamad Paglas of Datu Paglas and Mayor Ramon Piang of Upi in Maguindanao.
Dominguez, 27 when he was first elected governor in 2004, considers Robredo as “the only secretary who truly believed and inspired LGUs (local government units).”
“Since he became SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government), I’ve been doing the same in mentoring other LGUs, in replicating our experiences in education reform, following Jesse’s model in Naga,” he said.
Like his mentor Robredo, Dominguez now mentors chief executives in the ARMM provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi, Palawan and and the city of Koronadal.
Bongao’s Mayor Que describes him as “an inspiration.”
He said what they felt they could apply to Bongao, they did and the performance of their school children has tremendously improved.
From the video documentations of Robredo’s work in Naga, Que said they applied what was suitable to Bongao. Robredo’s approach, he said, was “grassroots-based.”
Bongao was one of eight local government units in the ARMM that won in the 1st Galing Pook Awards-ARMM in 2011.
Datu Paglas mayor Datu Mohammad Paglas is grateful Robredo helped them improve education services in his town which he described was really poor in Math, Science and English. He said Robredo showed them the way and got them to conduct seminar for their teachers and education officials in his town.
Robredo, he said, was “mabait na tao. Parang kabarkada lang niya ang mga mayor. Madaling lapitan” (He was a good man. He was like a buddy to us mayors. He was so approachable).
Paglas won a Galing Pook award as well as a Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH).
Thirteen of 116 towns in the ARMM received an SGH from Robredo and President Aquino at the awards rites in late June at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City.
Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel says Robredo was an “exceptional public servant, able and faithful to his oath of office. The nation is poorer because of this tragedy. God rest his soul and his family.”
South Cotabato Governor Arthur Pingoy describes Robredo was “a good person, an ideal family man and a true public servant. He is a great loss to all.”
Mujiv Hataman, OIC Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Robredo, who supported the reform efforts in the ARMM, “was a real colleague in the efforts to institute reforms in the ARMM.”
Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar said the death of the “workaholic” Robredo is a big loss to the Aquino administration.
Akbar noted that Robredo even travelled to the hinterlands of Basilan to ensure that basic services from the national government, especially from the DILG, reached the people.
She said Robredo attended the groundbreaking rites for the construction of new police stations in Isabela City and in Al-Barka town, both in Basilan, on May 14.
Sulu Governor Sakur Tan considers Robredo as “one of the most upright public officials and probably the most low-key, level-headed, very competent, a model for all.”
“What a coincidence he was recovered on the 29th death anniversary of Sen Ninoy Aquino. They left with the same message for the Filipino,” he said.
For Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, Robredo’s death is “nakapanghihinayang” (such a loss).
Robredo was “truly a good man and one of the best public figures,” he said.
Mangudadatu hopes Robredo’s project, the Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) for local governments, will be continued by whoever replaces him.
Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong says Robredo was “very approachable and brotherly” in both official and unofficial transactions.
“He (was) one of the most decent public servants this country has ever produced,” he said.
Hope for Lumads
In North Cotabato, 2nd district Rep. Nancy Catamco said the country “lost a great person who is the epitome of a good leader, a champ for the underdog, a good friend, and yet a very simple, grounded person.”
“We lost one of the pillars of our country to ‘daang matuwid’. However, he shall live forever (in) the hearts of the people he touched. He is a great man. I am so, so, sad. He gave hope to the Lumads by ordering all LGUs to comply with the mandatory IP representation in all legislative councils. A great friend who’s very sincere to help without asking any in return. A very selfless person,” she said.
In Zamboanga City, Mayor Celso Lobregat also says Robredo is a “big loss for the country.”
As a gesture of respect and gratitude to Robredo, the mayor ordered the flying at half mast the flag at City Hall and other offices under the city government.
He said Robredo never failed to go to Zamboanga City to attend to the local peace and order situation.
Robredo , he said, was scheduled to meet the Peace and Order Councils of Basilan and Zamboanga City on Tuesday, August 21 – Basilan in the morning and Zamboanga City in the afternoon.
Robredo was returning home to Naga from Cebu City on board a Cessna plane on Saturday afternoon. The plane crashed off Masbate on Saturday afternoon. His aide survived but he and the pilot and co-pilot went missing.
Robredo never made it to Basilan and Zamboanga. His body was found some 800 meters from the shore, 180-feet deep on Tuesday morning. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews with reports from Malu Cadelina-Manar)