Department of Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas announced at 8:15 in the morning on 21 August 2012 that the body of Jesse Robredo, and his two companions were found. Search and rescue operations was officially over. The plane’s fuselage was 150 feet under, and about 800 meters from the shore. ABS-CBN News reported that the plane’s fuselage was found at around 7:30 in the morning. The remains of the interior secretary was identified by American technical diver Matthew Caldwell, fifteen minutes later. Nearly an hour after, Jesse Robredo’s remains were brought to shore.
The President himself told Jesse Robredo’s widow, Atty. Maria Leonor Gerona-Robredo about the news.
Grief poured in Naga City where Robredo’s family resided, and were he served as the city’s longest serving mayor prior to being tapped as the nation’s interior secretary by President Aquino.
“I interviewed Jesse Robredo once for international television,” Felicity Tan, The ProPinoy Project’s Executive Director wrote on email. “A lot of people when they go on television, they try to give that unmistakeable ‘trying to be gracious television smile’. Not Jesse Robredo. He was in his seat, his eyes seemed to dart towards the door, as if trying to find an exit. He was not smiling. At All.”
“It was April 2010,” Felicity continued. “I was asking him about what the nation needed in a leader. It was an opportunity for the Liberal Party to sell their candidate to international observers. His responses never sounded measured or pre-meditated out of a spokesperson’s handy cookbook. Sometimes it took him an entire minute to hunk about what his response would be. His brows, furrowed. His eyes, deep in thought. I always remind people I interview not to look to the camera. Pretend, it’s just you, and me. Not Jesse Robredo. He looked me in the eye the entire time he spoke. My interview with Jesse Robredo was the most uncomfortable, and most sincere I’ve ever done. When I shook his nervous hand thank you and goodbye, I truly wished he would be put in a position with the power to change things in his humble, low key, no nonsense style. This little anecdote might sound insignificant, but when you’re behind the camera, you can tell a lot about the person in front of the camera. That’s how I know that with the passing of Jesse Robredo, we lost a true public servant.”
Today, the nation has lost one of its most dedicated, and most honest public servants. Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo committed his whole life to serving the country well. And he did serve Filipinos without fanfare. He chose to work quietly, yet effectively. He turned Naga City into an shining symbol of what transparent, and people-powered governance is all about.
Jesse Robredo helped restore people’s faith in government. In 2000, Mayor Robredo was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service.
With Jesse Robredo’s passing, we join the entire country in mourning the loss of a truly great, yet humble man. May future generations of public servants learn from Jesse Robredo’s life and work. May his early passing not be in vain.
Image credit: Some rights reserved by World Bank Philippines