#International Affairs
President Benigno S. Aquino III & Commission on Appointments Led by Senate Pres. Juan Ponce Enrile

For several months now, there have been persistent reports in the media that President Aquino is preparing to remove Secretary Jesse Robredo from his post at the Department of Interior and local Government (DILG) and transfer him “to head a new agency that would supervise a resettlement program for informal settlers.” President Aquino was quoted in November by the Manila Bulletin as saying that “Robredo has done well at the DILG helm but may be more useful in programs addressing informal settlers in the country.”

As January 2011 dawns, the reports persist. The alarming situation moves us to respectfully urge President Aquino to retain Secretary Jesse Robredo in his post at the DILG and appoint him as full-pledged Secretary. There are many things going for Secretary Robredo's retention. These are as follows:

1) Robredo is an Asian Nobel Prize laureate having been named as Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service in 2000.

With all due respect, we believe that President Aquino needs to demonstrate an overridingly compelling reason to remove Secretary Robredo instead of simply citing "differences over 'style and philosophy' during the election campaign" for him to surmount or countervail the Award’s formidable prestige and reputation.

Aside from the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the website www.citymayors.com lists Robredo’s other international accolades as follows: the Most Cost-Effective City in Asia by the United Kingdom's Foreign Direct Investment Magazine (2005); Public Service Awardee for Local e-Governance from the United Nations Department of Public Administration and Finance (2004); Women-Friendly City Award from the UN-Habitat and the UN Development Fund for Women (2004); Model City for Government Procurement from the World Bank and Procurement Watch (2003); CyberCity Awardee for its i-Governance initiatives from the United Nations Development Program (2002); Dubai International Awardee for Improving the Living Environment from UN Habitat (1998). Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (1996) and the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (1990). He also received the Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence as Most Outstanding City Mayor of the Philippines (1998) and the first ever "Dangal ng Bayan" Award of the Civil Service Commission.

2) Robredo is the champion of transparency and accountability in governance, twin concepts of governance that underpins President Aquino’s avowed platform of government. The Aquino administration will pull the good governance rug from under its feet by shutting down its finest practitioner. Pursuing the program of good governance can be done best within the department in charge of local governments and Secretary Robredo is unquestionably the finest man for that job.

3) Among the members of President Aquino’s cabinet, it is Secretary Jesse Robredo who best symbolizes in the eyes of millions of Filipinos the ideals of good governance and ethical leadership. Striking him out of the Aquino cabinet would have the same effect as dropping Jupiter or Uranus out of the solar system.

4) The vital part played by our youth in nation building was reaffirmed by Secretary Robredo when he supported the retention of the Philippine youth councils officially known as the SK (Sangguniang Kabataan) with major reforms. We personally believe that with proper example and guidance from us adults, the youth of this country -- the fair hope of the motherland as Dr. Jose Rizal referred to them -- will prove their worth every single time.

5) Secretary Jesse Robredo is fast-tracking the resolution of the more than 2,000 pending cases against policemen before the National Police Commission (Napolcom) targeting a zero backlog on administrative cases against police officers and a 30-day time frame in resolving future cases. This is expected to enhance integrity of the police forces as well as increase police morale and efficiency.

6) Secretary Robredo went out of his way to address the issue of multiple term barangay officials (“multiple termer” refers to a barangay chairman or kagawad who has been elected and served 3 consecutive terms for the same position) when his department submitted to the COMELEC the list of multiple termers and uploaded it on the DILG website weeks before the October 25, 2010 barangay elections. As a result, the Filipino electorate became aware about the presence of these multiple termers causing many of them to be voted out of office by an informed electorate. We need somebody like Secretary Robredo in the DILG working with the COMELEC and civil society to finally deal with the handful of multiple termers who were still able to file their COCs, run, win and still get proclaimed.

We will not give up on Secretary Jesse Robredo. His removal from the DILG will send a powerful signal to our people and to civil society that the President is backtracking on his promise of change. It is but fair that President Aquino should appoint Secretary Robredo as full-pledged DILG Secretary with all the powers of the office, give him a year or two of time to run the department and then judge him on the basis of his performance. To remove him before giving him the opportunity to show the best that he can do at the DILG would be unfair to our people.

President Aquino’s stated desire to utilize Robredo’s expertise in the DILG by addressing the problem of informal settlers in the country is not incompatible with keeping him in the DILG. Whoever advised the President of this move ought to realize that the issue of informal settlers lies within the mandate of the DILG or the local government units. Secretary Robredo can very effectively address the informal settler issue by remaining in the DILG because there, he will have real, direct clout and power to address the complex problem relating to informal settlers.

Even as we support Secretary Robredo, we also call upon him to scale even higher his implementation of good governance. Together with COA, he should call on concerned local government units to discontinue their so-called “exclusive suppliers” system as well as the ghost employees in local governments featured recently by Mr. Mike Enriquez in GMA 7's Imbestigador. These schemes drain billions in taxpayers’ money that could have gone to programs to feed our people, build them houses and give them jobs. Properly formatted balance sheets, income statements and expense reports duly uploaded to government websites mean nothing if they represent transactions involving goods and equipment procured at twice or three times their actual prices in the market. The Aquino government need not impose new or higher taxes on our suffering people if billions of pesos in taxpayers' money can be saved by plugging this giant procurement loophole.

We call on Filipinos everywhere who seek meaningful change in our country – who are committed to seeing change within themselves, their communities, their towns, cities, provinces, regions and eventually the entire country itself to support the call to retain DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo in his post and keep him there permanently. It will be a resounding setback for good governance and ethical leadership in this country if Secretary Robredo loses the DILG post without the nation coming to his side.

God has given us a capable and committed leader in the person of Secretary Robredo and it appears we’re not even prepared to make a stand to back him up. Binigyan tayo ng Panginoon ng pagpapala ngunit mukhang hindi natin handang pahalagahan! Sayang! We need to make President Aquino realize that he made the right decision when he appointed Secretary Robredo to head the DILG in the first place. Ang sabi po ni Pangulong Aquino ay “Kayo, ang boss ko!” Sana po ay makinig ang ating Pangulo sa pakiusap na ito ng sambayanan.

Take a stand for good governance by supporting DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo. Please sign this petition for good governance!

Please tell your friends through text, Facebook, Twitter or whatever other means to do likewise. Please sign it to secure a better future for our country and our children!

God bless the Philippines! God bless Filipinos all over the world! Mabuhay ang Pinoy! Purihin ang Panginoon!

Rolando G. Ocampo
Representative for External Affairs
Movement for Change and Good Governance

Edwin B. Aligora
Head, Public Affairs Committee
Movement for Change and Good Governance

We, the undersigned citizens of the Philippines, respectfully call on His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III to appoint Jesse C. Robredo as permanent, full-pledged Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government.

We also support whatever plans President Aquino may have of appointing Secretary Jesse Robredo to any position having jurisdiction over the issue of informal settlers in the Philippines concurrent with his position as DILG Secretary. We ask President Aquino to give Secretary Jesse Robredo his full support during his tenure in office.

We likewise ask the members of the Commission on Appointments led by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to confirm Secretary Robredo's appointment at the DILG once the nomination is submitted by President Aquino.

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The Citizen Petition Asking President Noynoy Aquino to Retain and Appoint Jesse Robredo as Full-Pledged DILG Secretary petition to President Benigno S. Aquino III & Commission on Appointments Led by Senate Pres. Juan Ponce Enrile was written by Rolando G. Ocampo and is in the category International Affairs at GoPetition.