MANILA, Philippines - Two former presidents joined the nation in mourning the death of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Fidel Ramos said the secretary’s legacy is priceless and his passing a big loss to the country.
“As a young mayor of Naga, Jesse was one of my most effective campaigners in the 1992 elections under the Bicol-SARO Regional Party,” Ramos said.
Joseph Estrada, on the other hand, said Robredo was not only a great loss to the government but most importantly to the Filipino people.
He said he has known Robredo as a sincere and committed public official.
“Since I was still a senator I have seen him doing a good job as a mayor. His commitment to the people and his quality public service are unequaled,” Estrada said.
Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymond “LRay” Villafuerte led the people of the province in mourning the demise of one of their most illustrious provincemates.
Camarines Sur’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan yesterday held a special session and approved a resolution enjoining all offices in the province to set the flag at half-mast in observance of Robredo’s death.
All flags in public offices in Region 3 are at half-mast with all local government officials joining the nation in honoring the late DILG secretary.
Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda urged her constituents to pray for Robredo, who she said “never neglected the province even in times of calamity.”
Tarlac Gov. Victor Yap, a close friend of Robredo, said the DILG secretary texted him twice during the height of typhoon “Gener” to check the condition of the province.
“We will never forget the goodness and greatness of Secretary Jess,” Yap said.
Negros Occidental officials, led by the league of municipal mayors, also grieved the passing of Robredo, calling him a “man of honor.”
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia credited Robredo for institutionalizing programs that led to the improvement of local government units.
In Manila, Mayor Alfredo Lim enjoined all city employees and officials to offer a minute of silent prayer.
Government agencies also extended their condolences to the bereaved family of the late DILG secretary.
Science Secretary Mario Montejo said their agency lost a “strong partner in its major programs, particularly in disaster risk reduction.”
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said Robredo had been a valuable partner in the enforcement and implementation of various environmental undertakings that included the anti-illegal logging campaign, solid waste management program, use of geo-hazard maps among local government units and cleanup of waterways and Manila Bay.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) national president Roan Libarios said the DILG secretary represented the good side of politics and worked within the system but was also its foil.
“He brought hope that progressive politicians can rise and make a difference in our national life,” Libarios said.
Even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is saddened by Robredo’s death.
MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said the secretary was “a strong supporter” of the peaceful settlement of the Moro question and the armed conflict in Mindanao.
“I know Robredo personally when we happened to be invited at a forum on peace process in Penang, Malaysia earlier this year and even at first impression, he is an amiable person,” Iqbal said in a statement.
The Philippine Air Force (PAF), whose personnel were involved in the search operations, also conveyed its condolences to the Robredo family.
PAF spokesman Col. Miguel Okol said Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Lauro de la Cruz had conveyed his sympathies to the family when Robredo’s remains were flown back to his hometown of Naga last Tuesday. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Helen Flores, Rhodina Villanueva, Michael Punongbayan, Ding Cervantes, Alexis Romero, Michael Punongbayan, Sandy Araneta, Cesar Ramirez, Eva Visperas, Danny Dangcalan, Ric Sapnu