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More 'JESSes' badly needed!


The name "Sec Jess" suddenly became a household name. No, it's not me. It's Sec Jess Robredo. His baptismal name is "Jesse", mine is "Jesus", being born December 24.

Now that Secretary Jesse Robredo is laid to rest, with all the public focus on his work and life, let's now move on. And before I forget, let's not overdo it, please. Even the widow, Atty. Leni Robredo was showing signs of discomfort at the seemingly excessive and sudden expression of admiration and accolade   by some on her late husband. There was even a suggestion to rename his hometown Naga City after the late DILG chief. If he could only come down from where he is now, he'll shoot it down immediately.

I am sure my tokayo, Sec.Jess must be looking down on all of us in great disbelief. And amusement. So suddenly, simple things he did or expected of him to do have suddenly  become larger than life -- but only after death. Good  public officials do what their jobs mandate them to do. And they expect no rewards or commendations in return. From all indications, Sec Jess went beyond the normal call of duty. Dying  while in office, especially in a plane crash while on the job,  gives it an extra aura of greatness. Just like former President Ramon Magsaysay, remember? Others who die in office from a heart attack or after a lingering illness are not so blessed. Except  the  late, fiery Manila Mayor "Arsenic" Lacson who  died with a heart attack.   His passing is still remembered because he reportedly died in bed with a lady love.Bless their souls.

NEED FOR HEROES -- No doubt, we Filipinos are in bad need of heroes nowadays. So far, we have all been bombarded by  negatives, the bad things . We all went through some trauma,  the latest notables  being the demonization and prosecution of a former president and the public sacking and humiliation  of the  former Chief Justice. Then the fatal  floods, the internationally humiliating  Scarborough affair, the embarrassing and tragic Luneta bus hostage incident, the calamities . It's a long list.  Indeed, we are going through  some  sort of a painful self-induced  catharsis. We have been wallowing in the  mire of the negatives.   Positives  come so rarely. And when a "Sec Jess " came around and took center stage, oh god, what a relief. What a refreshing change. And even his  very human and intimate acts and gestures that ought to be ordinary or expected  of  a husband or a father or a public official seemed to be so out of the ordinary already.   Of course human that he was, he must have some frailties that may surface later but never mind,  they don't matter anymore. Funny, but even his  wearing the ordinary    "tsinelas" is now big deal! The ordinary  seems   so rare nowadays! How strange. But how sad! It seems humble, hardworking, grounded and simple-living public officials are rare to find.  More tragic, they have to die first before they are discovered.   How  we all wish we have more  "Jesses" around!  Alive not dead!  (0ooops! I'm a Jess but please  count me out! I've been there before and  I'm happy where I am now. )

ROXAS AT DILG --  The President's choice for DILG, Sec. Mar Roxas came as a surprise to many.  But for me, it was the right choice. We've worked together in the Arroyo cabinet (he was at Trade and Industry) and I've watched him in action close range. He brings with him the natural flair of a well bred and competent gentleman, an upright do-gooder and a doggone hard worker. Let's all watch him in action.

TREES LIKE HUMAN  -- Our family has a modest farm in Padada, Davao del Sur planted  with mango trees that are now about 15 years old.
Mango trees by the way can only yield fruits once a year. Sometime ago, I experimented on a two-crop season in 12 months. The following year, the trees just sulked and did not bear fruits. One lesson learned: don't overdo. They'll protest. Trees are like humans. When they are stressed or feel abused,  they'll refuse to give fruits. But when they are well tended, they bloom and bear fruit  like anything .

HARVEST FESTIVAL -- This week, we harvested from about 450 trees in a 5-hectare farm land. The bountiful harvest brought some  mango farmers from as far as Carmen town, and  Kidapawan City  in North Cotabato  on the first day of the harvest. They came to listen to  learn how we did it with the farm technicians introducing the fertilizers used and the timing  and techniques. It's called "harvest festival". I shared a few thoughts myself.

BEST FERTILIZER --Although being just  a  "weekend farmer", my simple tips to farmers are:
1. It is said that the best fertilizer is the owner's footprints. Meaning,  one has to personally visit and tend the farm as often as possible. Absentee owners don't make good farmers.

2. Be generous with your inputs (fertilizers, preferably organic, etc) and the trees  will reciprocate your generosity. Limit your inputs and they  will also limit their fruits;

3. Don't  be a subsistence farmer. Go seek financing from outside (bank, financiers or friends) to finance your farm. Immediately  pay off those loans upon harvest.

4. The erratic weather nowadays can be a factor. If  there is crop failure, keep going. Don't stop. Trust that the next harvest will make up for it.
5. Get technical assistance or advice to get maximum yield and don't get tied down to traditional ways if there are new ways   to apply. The LGU agriculturist can be of help. Ask around or attend harvest festivals of other farms where we can learn new tricks.

6. Time your harvest during lean months so you get some premium prices from the market .

7. Thank God for the blessings. And be generous and share your blessings with others. The return  will keep coming in many folds.

NEW CJ --- I do not know much about the new CJ, Justice Ma.  Lourdes  Sereno, so I cannot comment about her competence and other qualities.

But this early,  there  are already initial claims  about alleged problems with her SALNs, her psychiatric test results and her alleged false entries in her bio-data. If this snowballs, another serious  problem will bedevil the almighty Supreme Court.

SNUBBED BY JUSTICES --  Only four  Supreme Court justices attended her oath taking. Nine senior justices of the thirteen did not show up. The new CJ was  first appointed  associate justice by President Aquino less than 2 years ago.  She is the youngest..Choosing  her as Chief Justice  to serve as chief for the next 18  years, bypassing everyone else more senior and decidedly more experienced was a shocker! She must know how to handle this.

I WUZ WRONG ---     I earlier predicted that the President would  choose someone who would  make the judiciary and the highest court truly independent after what it has gone through. I was even expecting he would make it  independent even  from him as President. Or at least publicly perceived as such.  For a while I thought that the appointment of  new CJ would restore independence to the judiciary and correct and restore  what my former boss, PGMA did in setting aside the seniority rule and unduly bypassing a more senior justice (Antonio Carpio) with the appointment of CJ Renato Corona. I was woefully wrong.

Knowing the temper of the times and the manner the new chief justice  may be publicly scrutinized,  I hope she will not be  seriously bruised and damaged  early -- rightly or wrongly. Unfortunately, it will not only be her as a person but the judiciary as a whole. So let's all be more circumspect this time. We need stability in the Supreme Court, after what it has just gone through.

EVACUEES -- I am sad to know that more evacuees are being displaced by the recent  continuing conflict in the Cotabato and Maguindanao areas. It is difficult to convince them  to  return home while intermittent attacks still happen.  Many may not know this, but there are still many evacuees displaced by conflict years ago that have not returned to their places of origin. It's tragic!

ACCUSATION   -- Atty. Randolph "Bong"  Parcasio, representing the MNLF had strong words against the MILF leadership for publishing in the latter's official website (  accusations    that  MNLF elements are in cahoots with Umbra Kato's BIFF that is now causing the conflict situation in south central Mindanao. This is a mistake. The MILF as the lead group now in the negotiations must take special effort  in getting everyone in the bangsamoro to close rank and cooperate.

I was told MILF Chief Kagi Murad, after so much negative reactions generated, ordered the removal of that offensive posting from their website claiming  the posting was a mistake being " unauthorized" . Good move. But the damage must be further repaired if you ask me.

By Jess G. Dureza

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