Sec. Robredo in Bukidnon: “He took the side of the marginalized”

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/21 August) In his first and last official visit to Bukidnon on March 12, 2010, Sec. Jesse M. Robredo took time to talk to people in need, showing his sincerity to serve as a public servant.

Yoyong Merida, chairperson of the Panaw Sumilao Multi-purpose Cooperative, said Robredo “was a leader who took the side of the marginalized sectors” and “a person our country needed for it to progress.”

“There are only a few good leaders in government, and now it gets fewer,” Merida said via SMS hours after reports came out that Robredo’s body was found 800 meters from the shore at a depth of 180 feet at 7:45 a.m .Tuesday.

Merida was one of the Sumilao farmers, who hogged the headlines in 2007 when they marched from Sumilao town in Bukidnon to Manila to press their claim on a 144-hectare estate in their place under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Eventually, the farmers received a total of 147 hectares.

He added that Robredo joined them in their walk back then. In his visit, he asked for their situation and also for updates about the case of slain farmer-leader Renato “Ka Rene” Peñas.

The bodies of the pilots–Captain Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese flight student Kshitiz Chand– were also reported to be inside the plane’s cockpit.

The discovery of the bodies ended a three-day search that started when their Piper Seneca plane crashed into the waters off Masbate Saturday afternoon.

Robredo met with Sumilao farmers on March 12 to listen to their concerns after he visited the wake of a police officer slain in a New People’s Army attack in Malaybalay last year.

Inside the barangay San Vicente multi-purpose cooperative hall in Sumilao, members of farmers belonging to the group spoke to Robredo about the conversion of their need to reclassify the land that they received as industrial to agricultural. They also told Robredo about the lack of farm implements and equipment and other needs.

Aside from Panaw Sumilao MPC, representatives from the San Vicente Landless Farmers’ Association and the Mapadayonong Panaghi-usa sa mga Lumad Alang sa Damlag were present in the meeting.

Robredo offered advises to the farmers including the need to follow up officials who pledged support to the farmers.

Earlier that day, Robredo visited the wake of PO3 Jomar Cahig, one of three police officers killed in an ambush on March 6 while they were on their way to investigate an  ambush-killing of a former barangay captain two hours earlier, Police Supt. Erwin Bayani Meneses, Malaybalay police chief, said then.

Meneses blamed the New People’s Army (NPA) for the ambush on the teams of  the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bukidnon and the Malaybalay City Police Station (MCPS) between the villages of Mapayag and Bendolan, near the city’s boundary with Lantapan, Bukidnon.

Robredo came to talk to the family and handed some financial assistance, DILG provincial director Ronelo Alvarez told this reporter. Alvarez described Robredo as “serious in his work.” (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)