CHICAGO (jGLi) – In a span of less than a week, my fellow Bikolanos lost their two favorite sons – Congressman Salvador H. Escudero III of Casiguran, Sorsogon and Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo of Naga City.
While Congressman Escudero lost his battle with colon cancer at the age of 69 and Robredo lost his life to a plane crash at the age of 54, both certainly died ahead of their time.
Of the two, I had a close-up look at senior Congressman Escudero, a classmate of my elder sister, Dona L. Hernandez, in the college of veterinary medicine at the University of the Philippines in the 60’s.
When Dr. Escudero became Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, my sister worked for a few months as a Sorsogon provincial veterinarian, where she met her future husband, the late Jose E. Hernandez from what used to be Bacon and now part of Sorsogon City as a district.
My sister, Dr. Hernandez, parted ways with Dr. Escudero when she immigrated to the United States in the late sixties.
Dr. Escudero’s work ethic and being workaholic served him well him and had not gone unnoticed by the martial law government of President Marcos, who later appointed him as Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry and later as Minister of Food and Agriculture, not Minister of Education as listed in the House of Representatives’ press release. He also became Agriculture Secretary from 1996-1998.
Because of his incorruptible image and as my role model, I sought him out as one of my wedding sponsors.
MADE IT TO THE FIRST DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IN PH
Despite his busy schedule, Dr. Escudero attended my wedding sometime in 1977 on the day that the Marcos government adopted the first daylight saving time. Making it to an early appointment was no stranger to Ninong Sonny Escudero, who as a teetotaler, usually reported to work at 7 a.m.
Less than two months before his death, I got word that he was very sick as his mobility was confined to a wheelchair. My nephew, Manuel Villamor, in Sorsogon City, told me in a Facebook message, “your Ninong wants to say hello to you. But he is now in a wheelchair.”
But I was surprised that he died so soon last Aug. 13. I wish I could have reached out to him sooner as I emailed his son, Sen. Chiz Escudero, to condole on his father’s death.
The email messages I sent a number of times to some members of the Philippines House of Representatives had never generated a response. I suggest the HR should investigate the inefficiency of its Webmaster, who should be replaced if HR wants to receive feedbacks from the public.
Ninong Escudero has sponsored and co-sponsored numerous bills. But one that left a lasting impression for him was HR 01135, which he authored in his capacity as chair of the Committee on Basic Education and Culture. HR 01135 is a resolution, urging the Administration of President Benigno C. Aquino III to allow the burial of the remains of former President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The bill never gained traction in the House. But one of these days, if my research will check out, this resolution might see its light of day. If I find out something compelling that will vindicate the House to pass the resolution, I will dedicate my effort to the memory of my Ninong Sonny. For now, goodbye, my Ninong. May you rest in peace!
In the case of Secretary Robredo, whose tragic death caught the sympathy and interest not only of the Filipinos but also overseas Filipinos and their friends, I still find it shocking three days after his remains was recovered from the bottom of the sea that he died.
Although, he was not known to have a good “pr” (public relations) or sociable with the media, Mr. Robredo made up for this lack of this knack by being accessible and straightforward with full public disclosure of available information at hand. And this demeanor should make him popular to media types.
Never known to take public issue with local politicians, who opposed his confirmation as full-fledged secretary of the department of interior and local government before the Commission on Appointments, Mr. Robredo was a silent worker, who was never distracted by petty politics. He just performed his job while he enjoyed the trust of President Aquino.
Unlike Dolphy, whose deteriorating health was detailed in the news on a daily basis and made the people, who are conferring him the National Artist award, appear to be dragging their feet, the members of the Commission on Appointments found themselves being hit by lightning when they procrastinated for two years to confirm Robredo as cabinet secretary with the plane crash on Aug. 18 (Philippine time).
But from all the comments after the death of Mr. Robredo that I find intriguing is that of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who appeared to have dishonored the memory of Mr. Robredo, who was made to appear to be harboring a criminal. Lacson said he tried to seek the help of Secretary Robredo to convince Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to respect a Court of Appeals decision that set aside the arrest warrant against him when he was running from the law.
If what Mr. Lacson was saying was true, I think, Mr. Robredo, being a non lawyer, might have also asked the opinion of his lawyer friends if what Mr. Lacson was asking him to do made sense. I’m sure Mr. Robredo’s lawyers advised Mr. Robredo that complying with Mr. Lacson’s request for help was premature – the Court of Appeals’ decision was not yet final and was still appealable to the Supreme Court!
I just hope President Aquino and the Commission on Appointment will honor the memory of Secretary Robredo by replacing him with and confirming someone, who has no criminal record. How can a once fugitive from the law have moral ascendancy over lawbreakers?
When Secretary Robredo was honored at the Philippine Consulate in Chicago, Illinois on Friday, Aug. 24, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. by his APO-USA fraternity brothers and by his fellow Bikolanos, particularly the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, I prayed not only for the soul of Secretary Robredo and my Ninong Sonny Escudero but also for President Aquino to appoint an independent-minded Supreme Court Chief Justice, a more sensible replacement for Secretary Robredo, who will be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments, who should not be distracted by petty