Our loss, Sec. Jesse

  (double click image to enlarge)

The country deeply mourns and bleeds when the likes of Sec. Jesse Robredo had to die, untimely or otherwise. It is not so often that a fellow of his breed comes to us in the Cabinet or among the ranks of local chief executives. It is not very often that we will see a genuine reformist and greatly trusted and respected local government official that is at par with a Mayor Jesse Robredo. Certainly, it is very rare that a local government exemplar rise to the rank of a Cabinet secretary amidst a rotten politics featured in accommodation, compromises and trade-offs. In fact he was a collateral, when his confirmation in the Commission of Appointments was thwarted many times when he was still alive.

But no, Sec. Jesse was full of hope and political instincts. As a long time and multi-awarded mayor, he knew the grill and grind of politics. And he was our hopeful personification that the virtues of good governance, transparency and accountability are all possible in Philippine government bureaucracy.

It was simply tragic, baffling, unacceptable, and unnecessary that Sec. Jesse had to die, that it had to be a Cessna plane - reportedly not in good condition - that will ruin the virtues that are epitomized by Sec. Jesse.

The belated exhortations of the Commission on Appointments do not help. In fact, the members of the Commission on Appointments need to be held accountable for the non-confirmation of Sec. Jesse despite all his qualifications. In fact, the Commission has to be held to explain why it keeps on delaying the confirmation of other good and qualified high government officials. Needless to say, we all know that politics is the culprit. But this is the very politics that Sec. Jesse embraced, pinned his hopes on and held through. It was because of the likes of Sec. Jesse that we likewise spotted some glimmer of hope in our government, local and national alike.

In 2007, Mayor Jesse blurbed in Fixing Society and I had the opportunity of exchanging notes and emails with him and his staff about fixers and red tape in the Philippines. In 2011 when I presented Kakistocracy in a La Salle conference, Sec. Jesse was my paper reactor. Through his staff, Sec. Jess exhorted and challenged me to join government and help in the fight against kakistocrats in power.

Sec. Jesse's death is the country's loss for good governance, transparency and accountability.

In Conrad de Quiros' mold of putting it, let the country's collective grief move us to elect more Jess Robredo in government; let our mourning turn into the strongest exasperation and outrage against the opposite of Jesse Robredo.