Jesse M. Robredo

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Jesse M. Robredo
Mayor of Naga City
Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service (2000)
Political Party: Partido Liberal
Born: 27 May 1958
Naga City,Bicol
Died: 18 August 2012 (aged 54)
Masbate City
Spouse: Maria Leonor Gerona

Jesse M. Robredo was the former secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government and former mayor of Naga City. He was the first Filipino mayor to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 2000.

Early Life

Jesse Manalastas Robredo was a second-generation Chinese Filipino, born in Naga City on 27 May 1958. He was the third of five children, two sons and three daughters, of Jose Chan Robredo, Sr. and Marcelina Manalastas.

His paternal grandfather was a full-blooded Chinese named Lim Pay Co who arrived in the Philippines at the turn of the twentieth century. Chinese immigrants who became Christians, it was the custom to adopt the name of their godparents at baptism and Lim Pay Co chose the name of the priest who baptized him; thus, Juan Lim Robredo. Jesse's father acquired the middle name Chan from his mother; it was her maiden surname.


He began his formal education at Naga Parochial School, a private Catholic school, where Jesse started to hone his talent and love for chess. Naga Parochial School was known and had established a record for winning Bicol's annual province-wide chess tournament and Jesse's brother had been among its champion competitors. However, when his turn came to represent his school, Jesse garnered only second place.

In 1970, Jesse entered high school at Ateneo de Naga, the only Catholic high school for boys in the city, it is run by the Society of Jesus and is therefore highly regarded for its emphasis on personal discipline and academic excellence. In September 1972, when Jesse was in the middle of high school, Marcos declared Martial Law. The institution and its administration immediately called for an assembly and warned its students against getting involved in anti-government activities and efforts that this may result to the school's exposure to the risk of closure.

Jesse obtained his undergraduate degrees in Industrial Management Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at the De La Salle University. He was an Edward Mason Fellow and a graduate of Masters in Public Administration at John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1999. In 1985, he finished Masters in Business Administration at the University of the Philippines in Diliman as a scholar and was named the Graduate School and Faculty Organization awardee for scholarly excellence.


In 1980, prior to becoming a public servant, Jesse had his first assignment at San Miguel in the Physical Distribution Technical Services department of the General Services Division. Within six months he had hurdled two of the three levels in the division and was then sent to the finance division for another six months. When his immediate superior was moved to Magnolia, the ice cream division of San Miguel, he was invited to come along. He was assigned to logistics planning and concurrently functioned as staff assistant to the physical distribution director.

Coming home to Naga City in 1986, he was hailed Program Director of the Bicol River Basin Development Program, an agency tasked to undertake integrated area development planning in the region's three provinces.

In 1988, he was elected mayor of Naga City, making him the youngest City Mayor of the Philippines at age 29. He was able to transform the city from being dull and lethargic to being one of the "Most Improved Cities in Asia", as cited by Asiaweek Magazine in 1999.

Because of his effective leadership, he was elected President of the League of Cities of the Philippines (the national association of city mayors) in 1995. Since 1995, he also chairs the Metro Naga Development Council. He was also elected Chairman of the Regional Development Council (regional planning and coordinative body of Bicol's six provinces and seven cities) from 1992 to 1998. He is also a member of the Liberal Party of the Philippines.


On 18 August 2012, Robredo boarded a four-seater Piper Seneca plane on his way home to Naga City from a conference in Cebu. As the plane encountered engine problems, its pilots sought permission for an emergency landing at Masbate province. However, it crashed into the sea, a kilometer away from the runway. His aide, Jun Abrasado, survived the crash and was brought to the hospital by local fishermen; Robredo and the two pilots, Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese Kshitiz Chand, were considered missing.

On 21 August 2012, Robredo's body was retrieved from the wreckage of the plane about 55m (180 ft) underwater; retrieval operations for the two pilots remain ongoing.

In honor of the late DILG secretary, several government offices flew the Philippine flag at half-mast. His remains, placed in a closed casket draped with the Philippine flag, lie at the Archbishop's Palace in Naga. They will be flown to Manila City on the 24th for a state funeral.

Awards and Recognitions

In recognition of his outstanding performance in public service, he received 14 major individual awards which includes, the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, 1998 Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence as Most Outstanding City Mayor of the Philippines, 1996 Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) Award, 1990 The Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM), and the first ever “Dangal ng Bayan ” Award of the Civil Service Commission. Recently, in March 2008, he was conferred an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree by the Far Eastern University in Manila.

He was a trustee of Synergeia Foundation Inc., a coalition of individuals, institutions, and organizations that works together to improve the quality of basic education in the Philippines. It collaborates with local governments, the Department of Education, socio-civic groups, schools, teachers, parents and students to implement systemic programs that will improve the processes, systems and structures of learning and teaching.

Jesse Robredo, together with Isabela Governor Grace Padaca, Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio spearheaded the Kaya Natin! movement. It started through a meeting facilitated by the Ateneo de Manila University - School of Government on June 2008 and has been regarded as a national movement that seeks to bring genuine change and ethical leadership in the Philippines.


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