Leni recalls fond memories of Jesse at launch of his biography
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo went down memory lane during the launch of the biography of her late husband, former interior secretary Jesse Robredo, on Tuesday, August 28.
The book Jesse Robredo: His Story, written by award-winning author Criselda Yabes, was launched at the City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati City 10 days after the book was launched on August 18 in Naga City, where Jesse was a longtime mayor.
Jesse, who died in a plane crash in August 2012, was known for his "tsinelas leadership."
"This book is an attempt to tell Jesse's journey as a person and as a public servant: how his character was shaped by his family, by the people he met, and the many struggles he had to overcome. It is also a story of how seriously Jesse took his role as a civil servant," said Robredo in her speech.
She then recalled key moments of Jesse's life as a public servant – from being mayor of Naga City to being secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
According to the Vice President, her husband was "very strict with himself and [was] very disciplined." She said Jesse made sure he would show up at the city hall as early as 7 am every day because he wanted to be the earliest official there.
Robredo also recalled how Jesse worked to remove lewd performances from Naga City's establishments.
"[Ang] ginawa po ng asawa ko, siya po iyong nagbabantay gabi-gabi. Matira iyong matibay. Habang nandiyan siya, hindi sila makakapalabas, kaya nalulugi na iyong mga establishments kasi tinatambayan niya. Nagsara na lang lahat," said the Vice President.
(What my husband did was he would be the one on guard every night. It was survival of the fittest. While he was there, the establishments could not show the lewd performances, so they were losing business. They all closed down.)
She then mentioned the Naga City People's Council, which Jesse established to give residents the platform to take part in the city government's decision-making process.
Robredo said there was a time when Jesse had approved the proposed construction of a golf course. But the People's Council opposed it as its maintenance would demand a huge volume of water and therefore harm the environment.
"Hanggang ngayon, walang malaking (Until now, there is no big) golf course [in] Naga and it made all the difference, because Nagueños realized that they had a stake in the way things would be done from then on," said Robredo.
The Vice President also mentioned how frugal Jesse was as a public servant. He was strict with the city's finances and did not use his personal money just so he had something to give to residents whenever he visited them. (READ: The simple lifestyle of Jesse Robredo)
"Those who worked with Jesse in City Hall knew that if you wanted to propose a project, or ask for funding for the city to spend money on, you had to defend it like your life was on the line…. You had to ensure that nothing will be put to waste and that you could stretch the benefit from every peso for as long as you could," said Robredo.
For the Vice President, the short life of her husband serves as a reminder to all public servants that "our time to serve is fleeting and swift." (READ: For politicians, lessons from Jesse Robredo)
"So the challenge for us is: How do we maximize this short time that is given to us for us to be able to give our all and to really make a difference?" asked Robredo. – Rappler.com