By Pastor Apollo Quiboloy
Manila Standard Today
This column is being written while a massive air and sea search is combing the seas off Masbate to find Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Our thoughts and prayers go to his family in this difficult time. The incurable optimist that I am, I hope that he will soon walk into his Naga home to the warm embrace of his family and to the cheers of his friends.
My wish is that I would never write about this driven public servant in the past tense. Only with him in government can one write about the days ahead in future perfect terms.
Hopefully, the secretary would emerge out of this adventure with the moniker “Robredo the Unsinkable.” How he earned it, he would endlessly recount to his grandchildren gathered around his feet many, many years from now.
By then, if with a little exaggeration he would claim that he was able to walk on water to safety, his listeners should believe him because that feat pales in comparison to the miracles he had pulled off on land.
Foremost of which is when he catapulted a provincial city to the top of the list of livable places. Short on resources but long on ideas, he worked on how to stretch the resources at his disposal, injecting his beloved Naga not only with more public services but with civic pride that change for the better can be done.
While other local politicians operated on the rule that doing bad can be overcome by telling well thin achievements, he was the plodder who toiled silently, achieved great results—but was averse to telling it loudly.
He was—and is—not the type who would broadcast intentions through the garish fonts of kitschy tarpaulins. Rather than telling people what he plans to do for them, he would rather let the people experience what he had done sans notice.
To him services speak loudly than publicity. And the world soon heard about the hard work of this soft-spoken man from a small city.
He was awarded the Asian version of the Nobel Prize, an honor harder to clinch than winning a national election.
It takes genes, great ads, and good luck to bag the presidency. But it takes unvarnished talent to win the Magsaysay Awards.
It is this work ethic, the kind that puts a premium on accomplishments than on advertising, that Robredo brought to the DILG.
Many of his predecessors were more concerned with chasing headlines than reforms, fixated with meeting the daily boundary of dishing out a quotable quote for the papers and a clever sound bite for the evening TV news.
But not Robredo. He is always there in the frontlines. He rushes to the scene of a crisis with the reckless abandon of the firemen he supervises.
His concept of damage control is not the prose of the spin but by being where and when it happens.
His approach of managing the vast network of local governments is not through memorandum and missives alone but by visiting them, not through lightning visits as blindingly fast as the flash of a camera used for photo ops, but in engaging his co-workers in dialogue.
It is probably this preference for field work over office drudgery that led him to Cebu the other day.
As I write this, I imagine Robredo lounging on an island, or clinging to a piece wood, safe and sound, plotting his next trips.
For slapping a traffic enforcer, a tobacco company executive soon found himself on the receiving end of a million cyberslaps from an enraged multitude.
Never did he imagine that the “resbak” would be so fast and furious that he would end up as the national punching bag for the week.
No doubt, the erring motorist deserves the collective censure of netizens, and the latter must be commended for taking up the cudgels for the victim, who, with his pittance of a pay and a hovel as a home, fits the poster boy image of an “api.”
In the electronic republic, its citizens did act fast, the punishment meted out in viral speed .
My only beef is that the reprimand assumed the character of cyberbullying that in many instances the humiliation heaped on “the slapper”, though not physical, was more demeaning than the violence inflicted on “the slapped.”
I know we can admonish uncivil behavior in civilized fashion. If we cannot, then we lose the high ground if we assume the ways of the aggressor. Cyberspace may be a free-fire zone, but the humanity in us should prompt us to moderate our anger and calibrate our response at all times.
Politicians should not play doctor.
This is a prescription to partisans on both sides of the political divide whose press releases on former President Arroyo’s condition masquerade as medical bulletins with recommended remedies.
Any recommendation should be based on science and not on the shrieks of her partisans or the simple stonewalling of her opponents.
This is not plea in behalf of the former president. It is an appeal for impartial judgment to triumph, unclouded by biases, uncolored by politics.
In the days to come, we will be witnessing a duel of opinions.
Fine—for as long as the debate remains in the realm of those in the medical profession. Let it be a battle of charts by the men in white. Without the “sawsaweros” and “sawsaweras” joining the fray.