The Man Behind the Legacy

by Kaya Natin Movement
Before Jesse Robredo became its mayor, Naga City was an impoverished third-class city. All that changed when, in 1988, Mayor Jesse left his corporate job in Manila to run for mayor in Naga. He won, becoming the youngest person in the Philippines to be elected city mayor. Two years prior to becoming mayor, he served as Program Director of the Bicol River Basin Development Program, an agency tasked to undertake integrated area development planning of the region's three provinces.

Under his leadership, Naga City thrived and progressed. To make the local government more participatory, Robredo established the People’s Council of Naga, which ensures that NGO’s and other sectors are represented well in meetings and that they have a say in what happens in their province. Transparency and accountability are practiced, as are efficiency and ethical leadership.

Both the mayor and the city have become multi-awarded, winning over 140 local and international awards. Among Robredo’s personal accolades are the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the 1996 Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) Award, the Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM), 1998 Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence as Most Outstanding City Mayor of the Philippines and the first ever “Dangal ng Bayan” Award of the Civil Service Commission. He was also cited by Asiaweek Magazine in 1999 for transforming Naga City from a lethargic Philippine city into one of the Most Improved Cities in Asia. His program “Kaantabay sa Kauswagan” (Partners in Development) gave priority to the impoverished people in Naga, cited by the United Nations as one of the Top 40 Best Practices in 1996.

Robredo earned his Masters in Public Administration at the prestigious John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999 and completed his Masters in Business Administration at the University of the Philippines where he ranked number one as a university and college scholar. He is also an Edward Mason Fellow and holds undergraduate degrees in Industrial Management Engineering and Mechanical Engineering from De La Salle University.

After his sixth and final term, Robredo was appointed Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government by President Benigno Aquino III. He was two years into his work in the department when, on August 18, 2012, he was killed in a plane crash off the shores of Masbate. His legacy of good governance is kept alive by his family and the people he has empowered and inspired.