Two things happened on the way to the forum. Jesse Robredo died in a plane crash and Malou Sereno was appointed Chief Justice. One was a tragedy, the other, it is said, a triumph.
While the death of Robredo was a loss to the nation, it is a victory if we use the moment to renew ourselves as a people. But for that we must keep Jesse’s vision alive.
Jesse’s life will be incorporated into the school curriculum. A book might be written, a documentary made, a statue erected, a plaza named. Are these enough to hold his memory and the principles he embodied? I think we need more than that.
For a start, as a community we should repay Jesse for what he gave us in his work, his values and his life; by ensuring his family is provided for. I for one would be happy to contribute to a credible blind trust established for this purpose. We must show the world we take care of our own.
Second, we need to institutionally nurture and position young leaders in politics and government, promising men and women who can compete against the scions of the entrenched interests for the public vote. We already have some -Rissa Hontiveros, Neric Acosta, Grace Padaca- but they are not enough. We need a new generation to populate not only the legislature but the civil service. The Liberal Party working with the NGOs should make this happen, preferably in time for 2016.
Thirdly, we need to convince Leni Robredo to assume the mantle left by her husband and run for the Senate in 2013. She could re-energize the political base to effectively compete against the money, smarts and influence of the other side. A lawyer, she already is doing advocacy work so it would not be totally new ground.
Lastly, we need a new DILG Secretary who is worthy of Jesse’s legacy. Mar Roxas has reportedly just been appointed to the post. He will require the wiles, toughness and leadership to run this most political of Cabinet positions.
The appointment of Mrs. Sereno as Chief Justice has been widely hailed as a triumph for reform and transparency with a small siding of independence. She has the passion and the integrity the nation is looking for in a Chief Magistrate.