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Robredo now full-fledged DILG secretary

Supervision of PNP also turned over to him
Jesse M. Robredo now full-fledged Secretary of Interior and Local Government
Jesse M. Robredo now full-fledged Secretary of Interior and Local Government

Taking almost a year to decide that they can work along after all, President Benigno Aquino III finally keeps Jesse M. Robredo in the cabinet as full-fledged Secretary of the Interior and Local Government and turns over to him the supervision of the Philippine National Police (PNP) as well.

“We confirm that last June 13, President Aquino issued an ad interim appointment to Mr. Jesse Robredo as Secretary of Interior and Local Government," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.

Moreover, the PNP will now be under Robredo’s supervision, Lacierda also confirmed.

Ad interim appointments are issued when Congress is in recess and allows an official to legally perform his duties until the Commission on Appointments (CA) confirms or bypasses the appointment. Either scenario can happen when Congress resumes its second regular session on July 25.

With the appointment, Robredo becomes a full-fledged secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) from a mere officer-in-charge (OIC) and Malacañang shall finally submit his name to the CA for confirmation.

Last year, Robredo along with Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje were appointed by President Aquino in acting capacity. They were not given “ad interim appointment” and their names were not submitted to the Commission on Appointments (CA) for confirmation.

Baldoz and Paje have been since been upgraded to full-fledged status, ahead of Robredo.

When Robredo was appointed acting DILG secretary last year, the PNP was not under his supervision - an odd arrrangement because the police is a major component of the department. This was not publicly known until Aug. 23, 2010 when the police bungled a hostage-taking incident that resulted in the death of eight Hong Kong tourists.

In midst of the public furor that followed, many went after Robredo's head for command responsibility over the fiasco. And just when almost everybody was urging the acting secretary to resign his post, more so after he admitted that he was 'out of the loop' regarding the hostage crisis, the president came to his rescue by explaining that the police was not really under the control of Robredo at the time.

As would later be revealed, even before he appointed an acting DILG secretary, President Aquino had already appointed his friend and shooting buddy, Rico Puno, as undersecretary in charge of peace and order with direct control of the PNP.

In his testimony before the Incident Investigation Review Committee probing the hostage fiasco, Puno said he had “verbal instructions from the President to oversee the PNP" in addition to his duties to supervise Patrol 117, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Philippine Public Safety College and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime.

Aquino, who is known to put premium on 'comfort level' in choosing people he works with, justified his appointment of Robredo in acting capacity by explaining that he was "evaluating" to see if their working styles would jibe.

He said, “It does no good to get him (Robredo) through the whole process of the CA only at the end of the day to find out that there might be difficulties in our working style, among others, our core philosophy, so we did agree na acting na muna (acting capacity first)."

Aquino has also said he told Robredo from the beginning he would retain direct supervision of the PNP.

Without giving details, Aquino revealed that he had differences with Robredo during the campaign. What these differences are became a matter of guessworks. But according to sources, Robredo, known workaholic always trying to squeeze so much in so little time, was in charge of organizing political sorties and Robredo's practice of cramping up to 20 sorties in a day  was not to the liking of then presidential candidate Aquino.

A multi-term mayor of Naga City in Bicol, Robredo was a Ramon Magsaysay awardee for government service and was strongly endorsed to the position by civil society organizations.

Jesse Robredo spent all his younger years in Naga City, finishing grades school at the Naga Parochial School (batch 1970) and high school at the Ateneo de Naga (batch 1974).

Robredo later finished his Industrial Management Engineering and Mechanical Engineering courses at the De La Salle University. His post-graduate trainings included courses in management at the University of the Philippines.

After the 1986 People Power Revolution, Robredo returned to Naga to head the Bicol River Basin Development Program, giving up a lucrative job at San Miguel Corporation.

In the 1988 elections, Robredo became the city mayor of Naga at 29. After serving for three straight terms as Mayor and already prohibited by Philippine law to seek re-election, Robredo used the 3-year break in his mayorship to finish his Masters Degree in Public Administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University.

He returned to Naga to become mayor again and served for another straight three terms that ended just when a new Philippine president was sworn into office.

During the years when Robredo was at the helm, Naga City, by all accounts a disadvantaged provincial city, lacking in critical infrastructure like robust airport and seaport, experienced progress and development never before seen in the Bicol Region. In 1999, Naga City was Asiaweek's "most improved city in Asia." Robredo was Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Public Service in 2000. Under Mayor Jesse Robredo, Naga City was forever transformed. The city became a showcase of what good governance can do.

In 1996, Jesse Robredo was among Jaycees' Ten Outstanding Young People of the Philippines and Ten Outstanding Young People of the World.

Robredo's other recognitions in the area of governance are the Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence as Most Outstanding City Mayor of the Philippines in 1998 and the Civil Service Commission's “Dangal ng Bayan ” award. He is also an Edward Mason Fellow.