MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 4) - The widow of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo on Thursday said her husband's fate was God's will.
"Alam namin na ito yung ginusto ng Diyos. Wala tayo magagawa kundi tanggapin. Si Jess all through his life always said kung ano ang nakatakda yun ang mangyayari. When the accident happened, maluwag sa loob kong tanggapin na yun ang nakatakda para sa kanya," Atty. Leni Robredo said in a press briefing.
The widow said they felt honored that Malacañang offered to give her husband a hero's burial at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.
She said she turned down the offer because her husband would have wanted to be buried in Naga City, where he served as mayor for 19 years before joining national politics.
"We are very sure that Jess would prefer to be buried here. Naga has always been his home. This is his happy place. Palagay ko we will do him a great disservice kung hindi siya dito nailibing," she said.
She also said that the family feels overwhelmed by the love and support that they are receiving.
She said that while they were assured of the love of the people of Naga, they were surprised by the outpouring of support for the late secretary from all over the country.
“Yung pinakita ng tao was beyond his imagination. He was always assured of the love of the people of Naga pero I think what he was not prepared was yung hindi lang pala taga-Naga yung nagmamahal sa kanya. Every time na nakikita naming sa news yung mga article sa dyaryo, mga tributes about him, parang ang saya namin,” she said.
'He lived a full life'
Mrs. Robredo said she has no regrets that her husband joined national politics after 19 years of service in Naga City.
She said her husband’s non-confirmation before the Commission on Appointments was not something she regretted.
“Alam ko na he lived a full life. He fulfilled all his dreams…Sinasabi niya ‘Quotang-quota na ako.’ Wala na daw siyang panaginip sa sarili niya, sa mga anak niya na lang daw. He was saying his cup was overflowing. Parati niyang sinasabi – yung mga nangyayari ngayon hindi ko naman pinanaginip. Sobra-sobra na ito and I think he was prepared to face the Lord,” she said.
She said that her husband was always going to confession, sometimes 2-3 times a month.
“He was ready. I did not even question why he was taken early,” she said.
Mrs. Robredo turned down suggestions that she might be asked to take her husband's place. She said, however, that whoever is appointed to the DILG would continue what her husband started.
The DILG secretary was killed after a Piper Seneca plane he was riding crashed in the sea off Masbate last Saturday. Both pilots, Captain Jessup Bahinting and Kshitiz Chand, were killed in the crash.
Robredo's aide, Jun Paolo Abrazado, was the lone survivor.
No ill will vs Abrasado
In the press briefing, Leni Robredo said she bears no ill will against Abrazado despite reports that he allegedly saved himself without bothering to help his boss.
She said she talked to Abrazado's dad after finding out that the aide survived the crash.
"Nagpapasalamat kami na nabuhay sya. Nagpapasalamat kami dahil alam namin na binantayan niya yung asawa ko. May mga nababasa ako against him but who is ever prepared for a plane crash? We do not expect him na isalba niya ang asawa ko at siya ang mamamatay. Kung ano man ang ang nangyari dun, instinct yun. At sinabi ko nga kanina yun ang nakatakda," she said.
"Si Jun po served my husband very well. Mabait siyang tao at mabait siya sa aming lahat," she added.
She also said that she has explained to her youngest daughter, Jillian, that the accident was not her fault. Earlier reports said the DILG Secretary chartered a private plane to Naga City because he wanted to surprise the family after their youngest daughter won a swimming competition.
She said that before her husband's plane crashed, she had already texted her husband that he would not make it for the awarding ceremony.
However, the DILG chief insisted on coming home because he wanted to surprise his family. She said that it was typical of Jesse who was always coming home on weekends.
"May nagtatanong sa kanya, bakit ba siya uwi ng uwi. Sabi niya, 'Pag hindi ako uuwi, masisira ulo ko.'"
Weekends at home
Mrs. Robredo said her husband was "never a mayor or secretary at home." She said Robredo took delight in being a regular dad and husband and would even attend to things in the house that needed fixing.
“He wanted to feel important sa amin. Kapag umuuwi siya every weekend, lahat ng aayusin sa bahay, hinihintay ko siya," she said.
“Busted lights, plumbing, mga sirang telepono, hinihintay siya nun,” she added.
She also said that her husband professed admiration for some of his fellow Cabinet members. She said her husband praised Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman for being so hardworking.
"'Yan namang si Dinky ang sipag sipag.' So I asked him, 'Mas masipag pa sa iyo?' Because I thought no one was as hardworking as he is. Tapos sabi niya, 'Oo kasi at least ako may weekends. Siya, wala,'" she recalled.