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Friday, May 26, 2017

Deception: The Shocking Truth behind Leni and Jesse Robredo Part 2

May 26, 2017 | Collective

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
- Arthur Conan Doyle


It was Mar Roxas, Jesse’s close friend and the Liberal Party’s self-proclaimed successor to President Aquino, who lobbied hard for his appointment to the DILG. Upon his death, it would be revealed that Jesse never really enjoyed PNoy’s (President Noynoy Aquino) complete trust as he was earlier given the post in an “acting” capacity. In fact, the President himself temporarily held the Interior and Local Government portfolio before finally acquiescing to Roxas’ request in July 2010. News reports would later reveal that while PNoy and Jesse were allies, they had differences that surfaced during the election campaign. 

Aquino later admitted this, telling Palace reporters that he first wanted to make sure that he can get along with Robredo, who was in an "evaluation period [ABS]." 

“There are various reasons kung bakit (why) acting. In the case of Jesse, we had some differences during the campaign as to style. We want to make sure we can really work with each other well. It does no good to get him through the whole process of the CA only at the end of the day to find out that there might be difficulties in our working style, among others, our core philosophy, so we did agree na acting na muna (for the meantime that it's going to be in an acting capacity),” Aquino said.

“May (there's an) evaluation period, siguro check ang working style (Perhaps let's check the working style), after two months sigurado na tayo (if we're sure), we still have certain things discussed,” he added. “Dadalawang buwan pa lang kami nagkakasubukan kung talaga nga bang kaya naming mag-mesh (we have worked together for only two months to see if we're gonna mesh).”

Their personal differences notwithstanding, there seems to be a deeper reason behind the President's refusal to appoint Jesse in a more permanent capacity. This peculiar arrangement, however baffling, can be explained by two words: Balay and Samar.

It is public knowledge that President Aquino’s inner circle was divided into two factions: The Balay and Samar groups. Both camps, named after the location of their headquarters during the 2010 presidential elections, were engaged in an internal power struggle to control key cabinet positions in the new government. The Balay faction was the one led by Mar Roxas, who bitterly lost the Vice-Presidency in a surprise upset to Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, with whom the Samarfaction was purportedly aligned. After his devastating loss, Mar instead set his eyes on controlling important positions in Aquino’s cabinet, apparently in preparation for a Presidential bid come 2016. Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa, a close friend of the President, became the Samar faction's de facto head. His appointment reportedly raised questions from Mar’s group who expected a Liberal Party stalwart to get the position. With the highly coveted Executive Secretary position gone, Mar’s group jockeyed for the remaining cabinet posts, especially the ones they deemed ‘vital’ for 2016. Among these was the DILG portfolio.  

LEFT:  Roxas, Balay     RIGHT:  Ochoa, Samar

It cannot be denied that Jesse Robredo and Mar Roxas were like brothers. During the election, Mar was responsible for Jesse’s assignment as the Liberal Party’s national sortie manager. In her interviews after Jesse’s death, Leni would jokingly refer to Mar as her husband’s “second wife [Politics].” 

In a Facebook status message, Aika recalled how Roxas, then the Transportation Secretary, was a regular fixture at their household — whether he was there or not.

“He (Roxas) was a regular breakfast date, whose name would often come up during dinner conversations along with the many stories of what it was like to be a part of PNoy’s cabinet,” she said in the post made public on Friday, when President Benigno Aquino III endorsed the Interior Secretary’s presidential bid.

Aika, the eldest daughter of Jesse and Leni, said her father and Roxas had gone a long way - having known each other way back when the Robredo patriarch was mayor and the Interior Secretary held the trade portfolio in the Estrada administration.

“Papa had given me the impression that Mar was someone he could and would go to battle with… He was a Mar Roxas believer through and through,” she said.

Aika said Jesse was “all set to help Mar” as he was gearing for a presidential run in 2009, but eventually helped out then-Senator Aquino because of Roxas’ request.

“When he (Roxas) gave way to PNoy for the presidency, he asked Papa to focus on PNoy instead because he seemed to need it more at that time,” she said.

Though Roxas’ presidential ambition didn’t materialize then, the bond between him and Jesse remained strong until the latter died in 2012 in a plane crash.

“Mar returned the favor by sticking to Papa until the very end. He was the very first cabinet secretary who gave Mama a call when Papa’s plane was missing, who kept updating us on a regular basis during the search, and was also the first to let us know when it was found,” Aika said.

More than any other member of President Aquino’s inner circle, Mar Roxas had a personal stake in the highly strategic DILG post. The DILG not only assisted the President in the general supervision of local governments, it likewise controlled the country’s then 140,000 strong police force [DILG]. With his eyes set firmly on a 2016 presidential bid, losing control of the DILG was something that Mar simply could not afford.

Due to the one year COMELEC ban on the appointment of losing candidates, Roxas himself could not take advantage of this position so he had to make sure the DILG goes to someone he completely trusts. Who else but his reliable wing man and close confidante Jesse Robredo? Given his extensive background as a multi-awarded local government leader, Jesse appeared to be the perfect man for the job.

But the President did not seem to share Roxas’ enthusiasm. Not only did he dislike Jesse Robredo, he distrusted him as well. This inherent distrust was not altogether misplaced. Despite being allies, Jesse and Noynoy were never really close. Jesse was Mar's guy and PNoy would have preferred his own trusted man to head the DILG, yet he cannot refuse Mar after giving the Executive Secretary Post to his friend Ochoa. Doing so would have incurred the wrath of the Balay faction.

Excerpts from: https://www.collective.com.ph/single-post/2017/05/26/Deception-The-Shocking-Truth-behind-Leni-and-Jesse-Robredo-Part-2

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