Robredo’s legacy for agriculture | Inquirer Business

Robredo’s legacy for agriculture

Because of his exemplary performance, Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo’s legacy will live on in many areas. One aspect not known to many is Robredo’s commitment to agricultural development. What he left unfinished because of his untimely death, we must now continue and pursue with passion.

DA-DILG Partnership

I had written an Inquirer article on “DA and the Local Government” and I said that farmers and fisherfolk often see “how DA had disbursed funds in ways that the LGUs did not approve or even know about, or how the LGUs disbursed funds without the DA’s knowledge”. I had recommended that the DA and the LGU forge a clearly defined partnership at the local level so that scarce funds would not be wasted.


Fortuitously, I saw Robredo a few days after the article was published. He said he had read my article. He made important additions to my recommendation. Thus, the following week, I wrote: “DA and the Local Government- Part II.”


I recorded there Robredo’s idea for a more detailed arrangement between DA and the local government, possibly through a Memorandum of Agreement. He supported the idea of organizing three-day provincial LGU-DA-DILG Planning and Implementation Workshops. These were conducted in 2002, but had not been done since. For future workshops, Robredo wanted the missing private sector to be a key participant.

This is consistent with what Robredo had said regarding Naga City governance. Ceres Doyo quoted Robredo as saying: “The leadership must be empowering, it must be inclusive. It is precisely for this reason that very early on, we reached out to the city’s NGO-PO communities, instead of just simply confining deliberation within a group of elected officials.” Doyo further wrote that Robredo created the Naga City People’s Council, which would enable this to happen.

The problem

Many DA officials had said that agricultural development suffered because DA no longer had control over the agricultural extension workers because they had been devolved to the LGUs. On the other hand, many LGUs complained that though they now had the main responsibility for agricultural development, the government resources were still controlled by the DA. They claimed that since the DA did not know nor understand their unique situations, the DA did not allocate the scarce resources effectively.

The 2002 LGU-DA-DILG provincial three-day workshops addressed this problem. However, they did not include Robredo’s focus on inclusive governance. While the Naga City People’s Council had this focus, the legally mandated provincial and municipal government-private sector Agriculture and Fishery Councils (AFCs) were not included in these workshops.

Robredo wanted this missing private sector component included for future workshops. This way, the farmers and fisherfolk themselves would have joint ownership of the LGU-DA-DILG plans. Unfortunately, Robredo passed away too soon.


The future

Will Robredo’s idea die with him? The most fitting expression of gratitude for all that Robredo had done is to give life to his initiatives and further strengthen them. Robredo, along with other exemplary public officials, had followed P-Noy’s two main directives: “Tuwid na daan” and “Ikaw ang boss ko.”

One can view these directives as advocating honesty and participative governance. Robredo was a shining example of both. How can we make sure that Robredo’s initiative on agricultural development, characterized by honesty and participative governance, be implemented despite his death?

One mechanism to institutionalize his legacy is by convening the LGU-DA-DILG workshops, but this time including the provincial and municipal AFCs.

Honesty will be achieved because there will be transparency in how the agricultural development resources will be used. Participatory governance will likewise occur because the private sector, through the AFCs, will be equal partners with the government’s combined LGU-DA-DILG team.

We need a paradigm shift in agricultural development. Municipalities must have a new mindset that they are main movers of agricultural development in their area, that DA does not direct but instead supports them, and that the farmers and fisherfolk in their areas will have a key role in the use of government’s agricultural development resources.

This follows P-Noy’s directives of “Tuwid na daan” and “Ikaw ang boss ko”.

If we do this, Robredo’s legacy will live on in the agricultural development area, which he treasured.

With P-Noy and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala advocating honesty and participative governance on the national level, Robredo’s legacy will be institutionalized in actual implementation on the local level.

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(The author is chair of Agriwatch, former secretary for presidential flagship programs and projects, and former undersecretary for Agriculture, and Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, email [email protected] or telefax 8522112)

TAGS: agricultural development, Business, Department of Agriculture, featured column, Jesse Robredo

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