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Speeches & Transcripts

Philippines: A Tribute to DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo

August 24, 2012

Chiyo Kanda Celebrating the Legacy of Good Governance Manila, Philippines

As Prepared for Delivery


by Ms. Chiyo Kanda, Acting Country Director, World Bank Philippines
Co-Convenor, Philippines Development Forum
August 24, 2012, Kalayaan Hall, Malacañang Palace

Honorable Government Officials and Local Chief Executives, Partners from the Development Community and Civil Society, Distinguished Guests, Colleagues and Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen:

As co-chair of the Philippines Development Forum and co-convener of the Working Group on Decentralization and Local Government, we would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family, Atty. Leni and their three daughters, and other relatives and friends of Secretary Jesse Robredo. Also our sincere condolences to the Government of the Philippines and to the millions of Filipinos who have been inspired by the life of a great public servant, Secretary Jesse Robredo.

Reform Agenda

The World Bank, together with many partners in development, salute you, Secretary Robredo— or Jesse, as you would always want us to call you.

The development community has a long history of partnership in supporting decentralization and local governance reforms in the Philippines. Yet your appointment as head of the Department of Interior and Local Government marked an important shift in the focus and commitment of the government to reforms. At the beginning of your term, you chaired a meeting of the Working Group on Decentralization and Local Government, and how delighted we were to hear the principles of your reform agenda, which you then outlined as: “Empowered and Accountable Local Government Units, Transparent and Effective Local Governance, and Engaged Citizenry.”

You quickly put this agenda into action. The Full Disclosure Policy, the Seal of Good Housekeeping, and the Performance Challenge Fund were just a few of the innovations and reforms that you have successfully implemented in your two short years as the leader of DILG. But your greatest legacy, perhaps, even from the time you were Mayor of Naga City, was your unwavering belief in the genuine participation of the people. And you created the space and mechanisms for civil society to be meaningfully involved in local governments. Last week, just two days before the tragic accident, I had the honor to be with you during the launch of a knowledge partnership in monitoring local public services at the De La Salle University. In your keynote speech, you said:

" Good local governance can be the conclusion of our unfinished revolution. This revolution can also be anchored on people like you who serve rather than criticize, collaborate rather than divide, build up rather than tear down. People who engage to understand. "

Jesse Robredo

Secretary, Department of Interior & Local Government

These are indeed the words of wisdom which will guide us henceforth in completing the reforms that you started.

Sustaining Reforms

Your passing, Secretary Jesse, represents a tremendous personal loss for many of us in the development community who have known and worked with you even dating back to your Naga City days. We have been inspired by your commitment to excellence and refusal to accept mediocrity. You advocated not only for straight and open governance but smart governance as well. We were humbled by your personal integrity, simplicity, and kindness.

Many people are asking, how will all the reforms you initiated be sustained? Perhaps, we can get the answer from you when at one point you said that the people should be protecting and demanding for good governance. This may be the reason why you have always fought for an engaged citizenry because they would be the ones to sustain and demand for good governance. As co-chair of the Philippines Development Forum, the World Bank stands committed to continue our support for strengthening transparent and accountable local governments and genuine citizen participation in local governance. We trust that the new leadership of the Department will sustain and scale up the reforms for effective local governance that you initiated. But the real driving force to continue the reforms—as you always reminded us—can only come from the ordinary citizens who don’t succumb to the status quo.

Let me end my remarks by quoting from your speech which you gave during the 20th Anniversary of the Local Government Code last year: “What brings us together is far more powerful than what pulls us apart. What brings us together is the welfare of our people, the greatness of this nation, the best legacy that we can provide to our children’s children is the knowledge that we walked the ‘matuwid na daan’ and turned this nation into a great one.”

Your legacy will continue—so long as the people of the Philippines remember you. Your dream will live on—so long as we all embrace your spirit in our hearts.

Secretary Jesse, maraming salamat.

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