This week, the whole nation will once again commemorate the 4th death anniversary of an icon of good governance, the late Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Robredo unexpectedly passed away in a plane crash last August 18, 2012.
It is timely that amidst all the debate about the looming planned burial of the corpse of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB), it is good to remember that ironically, we actually have the tyranny of the Marcos regime to thank for in inspiring Robredo to pursue a career in public service.
It was the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that moved Robredo to leave a flourishing corporate career at San Miguel Corporation and move back to Naga City to spearhead the Bicol River Basin Development Authority.
It was during this time that he met Leni Gerona Robredo, his future wife who, as fate would have it, would eventually defeat the son of the late dictator to become our current Vice President.
After his stint at the Bicol River Basin Development Authority, Robredo would eventually become a multi-awarded mayor of Naga City and would be forever remembered as someone who always placed the interest of the Filipino people above his own.
Up until today, his governance innovations and best practices continue to be shared by international institutions worldwide.
A GENERATION OF LEADERS LOST
Many Filipinos continue to wish that we would have more leaders like Robredo. Imagine a Philippines that would be led by national and local government leaders who exemplify Robredo’s brand of Tsinelas Leadership.
Yet, the reality is, we also have the late dictator to blame for this seeming lack of good leaders in our country. It was during Martial Law that the brightest and more promising leaders like Edgar Jopson and Leandro Alejandro were brutally killed.
Many of these leaders who fought the dictatorship were abducted and remain missing up until today, with their families continuing to cry for justice. Sadly, a whole generation of leaders was wiped out during this very dark part of our nation’s history.
MOVE ON? FORGIVE AND FORGET?
Now, as we count the days towards the planned burial of Marcos at the LNMB, it is incumbent upon us to do our own share to ensure that this does not happen.
It is as clear as day that a plunderer and someone who took away our liberty and freedom does not a hero make.
Many of Marcos’ supporters have said, it is time to move on, forgive and forget so we should already allow his burial at the LNMB.
There is a problem with this statement since how can we forgive if his family has not even admitted to their sins and sought forgiveness from our country?
How can we forgive if until now his family continues to benefit from the billions that they have stolen from our country’s coffers?
Yes, forgiveness can eventually be given but we should never forget the atrocities that were committed during Martial Law because once we forget, then we will let this cruel part of our history repeat itself.
By allowing the Marcos burial at the LNMB, we are in fact telling our children and the next generation of Filipinos that it is okay to steal billions and kill thousands because eventually, you can revise history and make yourself a hero.
Is this the kind of values and principles that we want our children to learn? Will the next generation of Filipino leaders be like Jesse Robredo or Ferdinand Marcos? The choice is now in our hands.
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Harvey S. Keh is currently the Executive Director the Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.