Gone too soon-A A +A
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
T MIGHT not be mere coincidence that the body of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and those of pilot Jessup Bahinting and co-pilot Kshitiz Chand were found by divers on the 29th anniversary of the assassination of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Robredo, like Ninoy, had still to reach his full potentials as a politician when he died.
Robredo’s body was the first to be retrieved by technical divers from whatever remained of the fuselage of the Piper Seneca plane that crashed on Aug. 18 in the seas off Masbate.
A haggard looking Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas, who has been in Masbate since the start of the search and rescue operations to monitor its progress, announced the recovery of Robredo’s body yesterday. He had to fight off tears during the press briefing.
Robredo’s death made me recall the sudden end of another Cabinet member, a Cebuano, during the waning years of the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Cerge M. Remonde, who was press secretary when he died in January 2010, would have been of the same age as Robredo had he been alive today.
Cerge, relying on his popularity as a local media practitioner, once ran for congressman in Cebu City’s north district and lost. But it was when Arroyo recruited him to Malacañang that his abilities were unveiled to a national constituency.
Who knows how he must have fared in the ebb and flow of Philippine politics after Gloria’s fall. Still, it was obvious that greater things were still ahead of him when heart failure snuffed his life out.
I can say the same thing for Robredo. While I was watching the coverage of the search and rescue operation on TV and his photo was flashed on the screen, it just hit me that he could have been a good material for president in the coming years.
He excelled as a local government executive, with his creativity and leadership acknowledged by groups behind the prestigious The Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) and Magsaysay awards. He is definitely a better presidentiable than, say, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and the popular Rep. Manny Pacquiao.
That point, however, has already been reduced to “what if.” Like, what if the minions of the dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos not killed Ninoy at the airport on Aug. 21, 1983?
When Ninoy went back to the country, Marcos was already afflicted with lupus and had been forced to dismantle some of the machineries of his one-man rule. And while Ninoy told friends that he was broke and would retire from politics, it would still have been possible that he, and not his wife Cory, would have led the rebuilding effort post-Marcos.
Ninoy was the greatest president that this country never had. That, I say, is not debatable.
There’s reason why Cebuanos mourn the passing of Bahinting, 60, owner of AviaTour and a flying school in Mactan and who also owned and piloted the Piper Seneca plane that crashed in the seas off Masbate. His works of charity are known and, alive, he could have helped many people still. Chand, meanwhile, was still in his early twenties and starting to move up the ladder of the aviation profession.
“Like a sunset dying with the rising of the moon. Gone too soon…” sang the late Michael Jackson. Yes, gone too soon.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2012.