Jesse M. Robredo

I  have a small story about Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, whose death was officially announced yesterday after his body was brought up from the depths off Masbate island.

I have a big story about his nemesis, Luis Villafuerte Sr., currently serving his third term as representative of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur province.

Camarines Sur province



I met and interviewed Robredo in 1998 when he was mayor of Naga City.  I was then commissioned by the Associates for Rural Development (ARD), in turn commissioned by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to do a ‘rapid field appraisal’ (RFA) of several local governments within the Philippines.  Specifically, I was tasked to find out if the local government units (LGUs) were able to avail of the Local Government Code’s provisions for innovative fund raising.




Robredo and his city administrator shared that while Naga City was affected by the decision of then President Joseph Estrada to withhold a percentage of internal revenue allocations (IRA) across the board, the city still did well.  They then told me of plans to build a new public market-cum-transport terminal for Naga City.


Luis R. Villafuerte Sr. (LRV)

Naga City public market



I met Villafuerte, fondly called LRV, earlier in 1976.  Through a friend, I got my first job at the Bancom Group, Inc., the holding company of the Bancom corporations.  Or so I thought.  I noted that something was not in order because I reported to work at the Villafuerte, Zamora, and Associates, at the Solid Mills Building in front of the Makati Medical Center instead of the Bancom Building along Pasay Road.

Our group was soon organized as the Media Systems, Inc., and its first project was to publish the “Investment Banking in the Philippines” book in time for the joint annual conference of the International Monetary Fund and the World to be held for the first time in the country.

LRV was a feisty and demanding boss with very little appetite for niceties.  Through the grapevine, we heard that the formation of Media Systems meant the final divorce between LRV and Sixto K. Roxas (SKR).  The two were considered to be key to the rise of Bancom Development Corporation (BDC), the first merchant bank of the Philippines.  SKR was considered the visionary while LRV was the operations man.  LRV will soon ridicule SKR as “strutting around as if he was God’s gift to finance” in his newspaper column.  After the publication of the investment banking book, I left Media Systems and rejoined Bancom as a member of its corporate research group.  There was not much space in the Bancom building so we had our offices in SKR’s personal library.

Ok, ok, ok.  I am writing this blog post also because the epal and papansin (calling attention to oneself) remarks of a member of the Commission on Appointments.  While the whole nation was in grief and praising Robredo, this person (who is better not named) quipped:  We have been deprived of the honor of confirming his appointment.  He then raised the possibility that Robredo’s confirmation be done posthumously.

The response of many: why wait until he dies before Robredo gets confirmed?  Why was he not confirmed in the first place?  After all, he has been in office for two years.

The short answer to these questions: LRV.  A member of the Commission on Appointments has veto power.  By himself, he can block the confirmation of a Cabinet member.

LRV is the uncle of Jesse.  According to Juan Escandor Jr. of the Philippine Daily Inquirer  Southern Luzon Bureau, LRV worked for the appointment of Jesse as chief of the Asian Development Bank-funded Bicol River Basin Development Project (BRBDP) and prepared him for Naga’s mayoral post.  In 1988, Jesse was elected the youngest ever Naga City mayor.

Escandor continues: Both parted ways in 1992 elections with Villafuerte fielding his sister Pura Luisa Villafuerte-Magtuto against Robredo.  Robredo made such a mark in Naga City politics making him the only political leader here whose handpicked local candidates all won in the elections without let-up since 1992, including the local elections in 2010, for seven consecutive elections.  The cause of the quarrel between uncle and nephew?  Robredo supported Fidel Ramos in his presidential bid against Ramon Mitra whom Villafuerte supported.







  1. jose mario diaz says:

    What you write maybe the “truth” albeit second hand. Nevertheless, its an eye-opener. It would be more helpful, if you could see the whole picture of Naga City, warts and all. Have you heard about the plight of uban poor-good for some, while some were cooked in their own lipids? how about the financier of the biggest real estate with golf course at the Mr. Isarog? How about the drainage system that should help minimize flooding but did otherwise? How about the hatian of businesses among foreginers and city hall? Did you know that Naga has been awarded as the cleanest city in the world? The power of the pen and PR. Pogi’s dad is a political wizard who used to work for gurang. Few would discuss these. If ever one did discuss nor even mentioned this, he will be dismissed as pro-LRV. Tsk.Tsk.Tsk. Truth is, Nagauneos dont need these leaders – they have their own shades of greed. Yes, even pogi has been a tuko. We have more good leaders in the city who are not in politics. silently helping the people.

  2. malorinovalee says:

    the main reason why Villafuerte was so angry with mayor Jess was bcoz our mayor refused to be used by LRV in all his monkey business……Naguenos and Cam Sur knew that “monkey business” but nobody would talk about it openly for fear of their lives

    • bongmendoza says:

      I suspected that ‘monkey business’ is the main reason behind the break. I have a notion of what that ‘monkey business’ is. However, I don’t have material evidence against LRV.

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