Do Filipinos appreciate our Jesse Robredos?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-08-30
The outpouring of grief over the death of Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo was equally matched by the outpouring of paeans for his accomplishments and his person. It isn’t often that we see this kind of genuine affection from our people. Perhaps, it’s because for too often and too long they’ve been misled, exploited and betrayed by those whom they’ve elected to lead.

There was this sense of a great national loss when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated in August 21, 1983. There was, to a limited extent, this sense of a great national loss when Ka Jaime Ferrer was assassinated in August 2, 1987. There was this sense of a great national loss when Cory Aquino passed away in August 1, 2009. Now we have this sense of a great national loss with the unexpected sudden death of Jesse Robredo.

On Facebook, there was a heavy barrage of Jesse Robredo memories being shared. It’s not the kind of loss that is usually expressed when a person dies. It was much deeper than that. It was sense of great loss that we’re losing the few good men that we have. Like his fellow Bicolano, Raul Roco, Jesse Robredo is now being hailed as the best president we never had.

However, when we look back at the recent presidential election of 2010, we have to wonder that how come the float of a Jesse Robredo presidential candidacy never caught fire — quite unlike the spontaneous combustion that met the running of then Senator Noy Aquino, now president of our republic. Much of what are now being positively said of the late Secretary Jesse Robredo was already accomplished by 2009. His record as Naga Mayor made him a serious presidential contender. So how come the float of his presidential candidacy in the 2010 elections didn’t catch fire?

The reason is we have not prepared the majority of our people to appreciate the Jesse Robredos in our midst. Admit it, we’re still mesmerized by showbiztocracy instead of applying strict meritocracy when selecting our leaders. Pit Jesse Robredo against Bong Revilla in a presidential election and the odds will heavily favor Revilla. It’s a reality that we Filipinos have to live with. The question is why don’t we do something about it?

The first line of defense should have been the political party. A right thinking political party would have discouraged inane showbiz personalities from running for public office if it’s clearly established that they’re clueless or worse — not morally fit — to assume the public office. That doesn’t happen. Look at the developing alignments for the 2013 senatorial elections. The two highly stacked political coalitions, both the Liberal Party coalition and the UNA (United Democratic Alliance), enlisted showbiz personalities.

This early, the Pulse Asia poll shows that old well-known politicians and the showbiz personalities have the inside track. The candidates who display qualities that we admired in Jesse Robredo are not even in the top 12. The problem really isn’t the lack of good public servants because even from way back we’ve always had alternatives, except that our people were simply not ready to vote for them.

The problem of evolving good governance is best addressed therefore by uplifting the political consciousness and the awareness level of the Filipino voter’s mind. Unless that mind is upgraded to fully appreciate the qualities of good leadership — were not going anywhere even if we had a thousand Jesse Robredos to offer for national and local posts. Don’t you see how our damaged culture is operating to prevent our voters from selecting their real Messiahs? We must repair our damaged culture if we are to see the dawn of enlightened leadership in our country.

Charter change (Cha cha) is not the solution either. A new Constitution cannot prescribe the solutions to our damaged culture. New systems can only do so much — as when China and Russia abandoned the communist economic model and embraced capitalism. Cha cha cannot be the solution to our damaged culture simply because what Cha cha proponents are promoting are the easing of economic restrictions — allegedly to boost the economy and create jobs — and not to repair our damaged culture.
The rise of Cory Aquino and her son Noy to the presidency have to be considered as phenomenal political developments. Instead of choosing between Candidate A and Candidate B, Filipinos voted in 1986 along the lines of democracy versus dictatorship. The same thing happened in the 2010 presidential election. Until the death of Cory, many voters were expressing disappointment over the choices that were being offered for 2010 president. Cory’s death turned the national focus on her son Noy, the logical heir to fulfilling the promise of the People Power Revolution. Those who kept seeing the 2010 presidential election with the same old parameters missed the phenomenon of the Noy presidency.

We cannot realistically expect the Cory 1986 and the Noy 2010 phenomena to recur in every presidential election. As George Bernard Shaw wrote: “God is no man’s daily drudge.” The only solution is human development, the takeoff point of our economic development.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo