Monday, August 27, 2012

‘A tough act to follow-’Excerpts from Abad’s eulogy for Robredo

By:  Sec. Florencio 'Butch' Abad
DBM Secretary
Source: abs-cbnnews.com

(Here are important excerpts or parts of Budget Sec. Florencio Abad eulogy for Robredo.)

Jesse is indeed a tough act to follow — not just in the way that the nation reacted to his death. He also set an extraordinary standard in the manner he lived his life as a public official, as a family man, and as a servant of God.

Although many of us would rather gloss over the political aspect of our duties or ignore it entirely, it is impossible to do so if we aim to set our priorities right and foster good and effective governance. This is because politics is inherent in our work as well as a key component in our reform agenda of “daang matuwid.”

And this, I believe, is where Jesse stood out. He bravely immersed himself in the competing confluences of governance, of politics, and development. Even more remarkably, he would emerge from these turbulent currents with his integrity intact, his optimism as boundless as when he began, and his actions a source of inspiration for everyone to follow in his footsteps.

More important, he was able to produce concrete results including, as Lou said, his work in setting higher standards of performance among local government units through his Seal of Good Housekeeping program. His efforts at introducing reforms in the bureaucracy such as the culture of transparency he injected in the procurement activities of his department especially in the PNP spoke loud and clear for him.

Many of our peers in development and politics were determined to do the same with utmost sincerity. Some of them began their terms with the most noble of intentions only to find themselves consumed by the same corrosive culture of patronage and partisanship they sought to change. Others who would later recover their bearings became embittered cynics, convinced that there is really nothing anyone can do to transform this country.

But, Jesse managed to remain largely unscathed in a bureaucracy notorious for its moral casualties. He defined his political acumen without losing sight of his goal of widespread reform, showing his constituents what true leadership and public service were made of.

He did all of these without engendering acrimonious relationships with his colleagues and stakeholders. In fact, he regularly dealt with people often deemed too dangerous: drug lords, crime syndicates, warlords, rogue policemen, among others. He calmly mediated between the government and urban informal settlers facing eviction even as tempers rose and violent clashes broke out. He brought his mediation efforts to bear on the difficult process of establishing peace and development in conflict-ridden communities in the ARMM.

Furthermore, he dealt with political opponents squarely with astounding skill and candor. In other words, Jesse could talk to just about anybody with frankness and sincerity. The doors to his heart were swung wide open to practically anyone—from state leaders to government staff, all the way to the lowliest of people in Naga whom he dutifully served.

How was Jesse able to do this? What made it possible for Jesse Robredo to accomplish so much without compromising his ethical and political responsibilities? I am sure Leni is in the best position to give us an explanation.

Still, we try to answer these questions without realizing that Jesse’s work is exactly what public office requires. The principles he remained faithful to, the unique way he empowered Filipinos all over, these are precisely what effective public service and what daang matuwid is all about. And this is even clearer when we see Jesse’s qualities that formed his work and his decisions: his humility and compassion, the way he pursued excellence, and the way he was passionately driven to make this country a better place for all of us.

In the end, however, the sum of his achievements is founded on a basic truth: mabuting tao si Jesse. Jesse was a good man. This may seem an oversimplification but oftentimes, we fail to recognize how hard it is to be good, to remain honorable in the face of unrelenting challenges. This is especially true when one has to work and survive as we must in a political environment that does not always embrace the values that we promote.

Although we continue to wrestle with Jesse’s untimely death, this nation’s grief is tempered by a renewed sense of hope that Jesse’s legacy of reform and integrity will grow timeless, sustained by a new culture of honest, compassionate, and competent governance that he championed in his lifetime; that Filipinos will honor the choice of right over wrong in the face of adversity; that there will be no shortage of good men and women in this country.

In ending this tribute to a dear friend and colleague, the words of the late President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic in his "Summer Meditations" come to mind—words which I believe eloquently and aptly describe Jesse and his liberating politics and I quote: “If your heart is in the right place and you have good taste, not only will you pass master in politics, you are destined for it. If you are modest and do not lust after power, not only are you suited in politics, you absolutely belong there.

The sine qua non of a politician is not the ability to lie. He only needs be sensitive and know when, what, to whom, and how to say what he has to say. It is not true that a person of principle does not belong in politics. It is enough for principles to be leavened with patience, deliberation, a sense of proportion, and an understanding of others. It is not true that only the unfeeling cynic, the vain, the brash, and the vulgar can succeed in politics; such people, it is true, are drawn to politics. But, in the end, decorum and good taste will always count for more.”

Even as we bid you farewell, Jesse, we know you will always be here to guide us. You in your signature polo jacket with your eyes disappearing in your smiling face. Maraming, maraming salamat, Jesse.- abs-cbnnews.com

For the complete text of the speech, click HERE.
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