To Account a Life For Others

Statement of Government Watch on the Life and Death of Sec. Jesse Robredo

How do we account for the life of one Jesse Robredo?

We recount stories of his humility despite the milestones that he had achieved in local governance. We revisit photographs of smiles he shared while wearing shorts and slippers in a meeting, share anecdotes of his life as a friend, as a family-man, and as a public servant, and retrace the steps he had taken to get to where he is now: forever in our hearts and in our history.

But that would not be enough.

Robredo's life was a life well lived. His was a life for others. 

As in the case of Naga City, it was never about him. It was about the people he served. As he said in one interview: “I have done well not because I am smart, not because I am good, but because I have good people who discovered that they are better because they are inspired.”

Working in the DILG, we have witnessed him toil. It was not easy. Yet we asked him to fight – to stay there and fight for us.

And indeed, he fought. He had been fighting the good fight for us who believe there is still hope for this country.

He had fought with us in ensuring participatory local governance. Under his leadership, he supported citizen engagement in monitoring of local government service delivery.

He had fought with us in promoting other local champions whom he knew needed the extra push. And many of these champions that we have met in the course of our work were inspired by him. They looked up to him and tried to serve as he had served.

He had fought with us in our work in addressing election-related violence. He had been with us in Abra (the only DILG secretary who has been there twice) risking his life for the mission we have decided to undertake together.

He had fought with us in making sure education service delivery by local government units are delivered well, and that local resources are not only used efficiently, but in support of those who need them most.

He had fought with us in making sure our work was not for nothing. 

And for all these, we thank him.

By accounting his great life, we begin to cope. But also, we fully realize how much we have lost. We have lost something great; we have lost someone who is worthy of an ache that we cannot bear alone. Hence, we grieve as a nation.

But more than losing, we have gained much through his life and through his death. A loss as big as Jesse Robredo involving a person that has touched so many lives means God is sending messages wholesale. There is a common message for all, for groups, for collectives, but there is also a unique message for every individual who would be blessed to find the message especially for them. This big a loss will be big a gain if we discern in our hearts and soul the meaning of this loss in our individual and collective lives and the message He wants to tell us. That's one way this loss will serve the good for each of us and all. That's the way Sec. Jesse will be with us forever.

Sec. Jesse, as we bid you goodbye, we promise you, your fight will not be for naught. We will always find meaning, we will always keep the good of all in mind, and we will continue fighting for our country.

Paalam, Secretary Jesse, paalam!