[PHOTO - SALUTE TO JESSE: Firefighters of the Bureau of Fire Protection perform a ‘water salute’ as the hearse of DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo passes Roxas Boulevard yesterday. VAL RODRIGUEZ]

MANILA, AUGUST 25, 2012 (PHILSTAR) There is no urgent need to look for a replacement for the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Malacañang said yesterday.

“Right now, we’re in a period of mourning, I don’t know if it’s the right time to discuss that,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. “I think it is best to wait until the period of mourning is over.”

There is no administrative problem since Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. is serving as officer-in-charge and will continue the reforms implemented by Robredo, Lacierda said.

He said President Aquino must be given time to choose since Robredo was a personal friend and comrade from the Liberal Party.

[PHOTO -Jesse M. Robredo (May 27, 1958-Aug 16, 2012) Ateneo de Naga HS'74 Mayor of Naga City (1988-1997, 2000-2010) Interior and Local Government Secretary, Republic of the Philippines]

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Edgardo Angara also agreed that there is no urgent need to choose the next DILG chief.

“I don’t really think there is too much urgency in appointing a new SILG (Secretary of Interior and Local Government). The bureaucracy will move even with just one in an acting capacity. It’s best that President Aquino chooses well,” Sotto said.

Sotto, however, was unable to hide his preference this early.

“In my opinion, Vice President (Jejomar Binay) would be a good choice,” Sotto said.

Sotto is chairman of the Commission on Appointments subcommittee on local government that was unable to act on the confirmation of Robredo.

Robredo was supposed to face the CA last Aug. 15 but it was postponed to allow for the necrological services for the late Sorsogon Rep. Sonny Escudero.

The hearing was supposed to have been rescheduled on Aug. 22 but Robredo said he had a prior appointment.

His death on Aug. 18 preempted his CA confirmation supposedly set on Aug. 29 next week.

For his part, Angara said the new DILG secretary would likely come from the administration Liberal Party.

“It is an important portfolio since it has control over the local government as well as the national police, so it’s very pivotal. It’s like national defense. Naturally, he (President Aquino) will appoint one that he fully trusts, naturally it would come from Liberal Party,” Angara said.

Angara said the role of the next DILG chief would also be critical in the elections next year.

Asked if Sen. Panfilo Lacson would be qualified, Angara said he does not want to comment.

“I am just looking at it from his (Aquino’s) point of view and from the point of his party because he is the chairman of his party, and he has to support his constituency,” Angara said.

On the other hand, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim declared he is not interested in the DILG post.

Lim said he would rather continue serving Manila residents who had given him an overwhelming mandate in the past two elections and continue to shower him with their support.

He said it is highly unethical and in very bad taste to discuss matters such as Robredo’s possible replacement when the nation is still mourning his death.

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay urged Aquino to carefully select Robredo’s replacement as DILG chief.

Magsaysay said the May 2013 elections would test the new DILG secretary as he or she must remain impartial.

“There have been reports that several groups have already been lobbying for the position but I ask the President to appoint somebody who will not be swayed by politics so that the 2013 election can proceed smoothly,” she added. – Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez, Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz, Sandy Araneta, Rey Galupo

Jesse lived a full life, says Robredo widow By Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) Updated August 25, 2012 12:00 AMComments (0)

[PHOTO -AIKA Robredo, the eldest child of Jesse Robredo]

MANILA, Philippines - The widow of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said she didn’t question God on the sudden death of her husband.

Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo, a lawyer, said her husband had always been appreciative of all the blessings God gave him and his family.

“He lived a full life… he was prepared to face the Lord,” she said, adding that her husband always said that he had no more dreams for himself but only for their three daughters – Jessica Marie, 24, Janine Patricia, 18 and Jillian Therese, 12.

The Sunday before the plane crash, Leni said she and her husband had their usual and cheerful conversation in their car at the Naga airport waiting for his plane to arrive.

She said her husband would always express gratitude for the good things that have happened to him which he never even dreamed of.

[PHOTO -Mrs. Leni Robredo recounts her husband's last words]

However, she admitted that the death of the interior secretary was tragic and his loved ones were not prepared for it.

“I know he is well prepared to face the Lord, that’s why I didn’t even question God for taking him away,” she said, adding that her husband went to confession at least three or four times a month.

Leni said her husband admired President Aquino and his fellow Cabinet members for their sensibility and dedication to public service and was very hopeful that the Aquino administration would lead the country on the “tamang daan (rightful path)” and to a better future.

“He had a lot of frustrations... but he was very hopeful something good will happen (in the country). He said the important thing is we have a sensible president and since our President is sensible, he was very hopeful that things will fall into place,” said Leni.

She said she thought her husband was the most hardworking member of the Cabinet, knowing his work ethic, but the interior secretary only had good words for his co-workers.

“He was telling me that (Social Welfare Secretary) Dinky (Soliman) is very industrious. I asked him masipag pa sa iyo (even more than you)? He said yes, at least I have a weekend, she doesn’t have one,” Leni said.

She said her husband believed no one was indispensable and there are many other people with talents and love for country who have yet to be tapped.

[Photo -Leni Robredo (right), wife of the late Interior Minister Jesse Robredo, with their daughters at his wake at the Archbishop’s Palace in Naga City, Camarines Sur province.]

She hoped that whoever replaces her husband must share the same vision for the DILG and continue what he started.

Darling of the media

In Bicol, media practitioners grieving the passing of the interior secretary unanimously called him the “darling of the media.”

“He never says no to an interview, or even invitation to a personal occasion of a reporter, as long as his time permits. And mind you, if immediately he does not have, he will make one. And whenever you talk to him, you would feel he is taking you seriously,” Floreño Solmirano, who has covered Robredo for a long time, told The STAR.

Hermogenes Alegre, a former politician and now Albay chapter president of the Kapisasan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas, said Robredo’s attitude toward the media earned him the reputation.

Devotees of Our Lady of Peñafrancia prayed for Robredo’s safety after they learned of the plane crash, hoping that a miracle would save their well-loved former mayor.

Robredo was a devotee of the Lady of Peñafrancia, whom Nagueños fondly call “Ina,” since he was 16 year old.

“He joined the translacion and the fluvial procession and taught us the devotion, which has become a part of the family,” Leni said.

Robredo belonged to the Guardias de Maria, a select group of devotees who have their own distinct medallion.

Devotees called him “POGI,” an acronym for Pamilya, Obligation, God and Ina.

‘Great loss’

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and local executives nationwide also joined the nation in expressing grief over the death of Robredo.

DOLE officials and employees vowed to continue the legacy of the late DILG secretary by emulating his public service.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Robredo supported the DOLE’s anti-child labor campaign and started a lot of reforms in local government. – Mayen Jaymalin, Jerry Botial, Cet Dematera, Celso Amo, Charlie Lagasca

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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