Manila: Senators and congressmen who were members of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) have been shamed for delaying for two years the confirmation of the appointment of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Robredo died in a plane crash in the central Philippines last Saturday, after which there was a deluge of praise for him as the country’s best example of an inspiring government leader.
“We were deprived the honour of confirming a great man, one of the best in the Cabinet. His place in the history of public service is secure,” Congressman Roilo Golez told the Inquirer.
The CA postponed Robredo’s confirmation from August 15 to August 29, because both houses of Congress were busy after Congressman Salvador Escudero died of cancer.
Robredo was told about this, said Congressman Rodanto Marcoleta, of Alagad, a sectoral party at the House of Representatives.
After Robredo’s death members of the CA tried to save the situation by announcing that he would be “posthumously confirmed” as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government.
However, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said that an appointed government official could not be “posthumously confirmed”.
“It was a form of face-saving,” said political analyst Prospero de Vera.
The continuous snub on Robredo spoke more about the people who were behind the confirmation of appointed officials, said Pastor Alfred Crespo, adding that the no-nonsense and pro-people Robredo was “anachronistic in dirty politics”.
Earlier, Robredo said that in an interview with GMA News Reporters’ Notebook, “All my life has been guided by making a difference in everything that you [I] choose to do.”
“The things that I believe makes sense, that’s the only thing that I will do,” he added.
When he was not confirmed for two years and remained as an acting DILG secretary, he said, “I told myself I can go anytime,.. I look at this assignment on a day-to-day basis.”
It was his deep abiding faith in the possibility of good governance that made him stick to his job without true confirmation from the CA.
“At that time, I asked if my work was not yet senseless, and if the president [Beningo Aquino] still believed I could make something sensible [in the office]. [But] I cannot allow myself to walk away just because people who do not like me to be here.”
Without giving details, he talked of dirty politics. When asked to assess politics on a national level, he said in the same interview, “I think it is dirty. The higher you go the dirtier it is I guess.”
As a mayor of Naga City for ten years, which began when he was 28 in 1998, Robredo empowered women and poor people, ran after illegal gambling lords, and demanded reform in the Philippine National Police (PNP).
As DILG chief starting 2010, he wanted all local government leaders to undertake the fight for reform and transparency in the procurement of services and materials, using people’s money.
“He was too good to be true. That way, he had enemies,” said Crespo, adding that if Robredo shamed old traditional politicians, he also inspired young people to believe in government and in making politics a clean way to help people.