SUPPORTERS of Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo are rallying behind him, saying it is “unjust” for him to be blamed for the Aug. 23 hostage debacle when he has no jurisdiction over the Philippine National Police.
This developed as Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda confirmed a VERA Files report that the appointments of Robredo, together with Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje , were in acting capacity and thus would not be submitted to the Commission on Appointments for confirmation.
In a statement, 28 former cabinet members and civic leaders that include former Planning Secretary Solita Monsod and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Ernesto Garilao, said:
“The process through which our society deals with anger and grief is by finding someone to blame. Others have been quick to lay the blame on the Office of the DILG Secretary. By tradition, he is in-charge of the police. But clearly, as has been written, observed, and discussed over the media, this was not the case with Secretary Robredo. He has not been given responsibility over the police. It is unjust to make him responsible for something which he was not given authority over.”
Robredo, Baldoz and Paje’s appointments are unlike those of 18 other Cabinet secretaries are that ad interim (Latin for temporary). Ad interim appointments are issued while Congress is not in session but would be changed to permanent once confirmed by the CA.
Lacierda said he does not know why the three were appointed only acting secretaries, but said, “For [all] intents and purposes, they have the same powers as an ad interim appointed secretary.”
Individuals close to the President and those who had helped in his presidential campaign told VERA Files that Robredo does not quite enjoy Aquino’s trust, owing to differences that erupted during the campaign.
The President, they said, was unhappy with the campaign schedules Robredo drew up, which were packed with appointments and events that he had difficulty following.
Robredo’s supporters said, “From his interviews, it is clear that the request of Secretary Robredo is quite simple: that he be given the opportunity to practice what he advocates, i.e. He should be held accountable for his authority and responsibilities.”
Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, apparently not aware not of Robredo’s “acting secretary” appointment, earlier warned that the RM Magsaysay awardee would have a hard time with the CA because of the bungling by the police of the hostage-taking incident which resulted in the death of eight Hongkong nationals. Opposition congressmen led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman have called for Robredo’s ouster for the Aug. 23 fiasco.
The statement of Robredo’s supporters further said:
“What else can we do to support a reformist like Secretary Jesse M. Robredo? Our words cannot even describe with depth and alacrity what he has done and what he can do to re-institute good governance especially in local governments. He has started giving the public full information on the DILG’s budget and its memoranda by posting them on the web. He followed this up with a directive to all Local Chief Executives for full public disclosure of their financial transactions. He initiated partnerships with civil society and the different Leagues to promote participatory governance and accountability of local officials to their communities.”
“From his interviews, it is clear that the request of Secretary Robredo is quite simple: that he be given the opportunity to practice what he advocates, i.e. He should be held accountable for his authority and responsibilities.”
They pledged to “stand one with our government in acknowledging our failures and in saying how deeply sorry we are for the painful loss of lives. We pledge our support to the President and to the Cabinet, especially Secretary Robredo as they strive to do their best to move our country forward.”
Other signatories include Carmencita Abella, president of the RM Magsaysay Awards Foundation, Yasmin Busran-Lao, founder of Al-Mujadillah Development Foundation, Grace Padaca, former Isabela governor.