Vigil turns into mass for Robredo

Kim Arveen Patria

What started last Saturday as a vigil for the safe return of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo has turned into a vigil for the repose of his soul.

Government officials as well as friends and supporters of Robredo continue to flock De La Salle Greenhills (LSGH) Chapel in Mandaluyong City as news broke that the Cabinet member, whose plane crashed off the coast of Masbate, has been found dead early Tuesday.

An 11 a.m. mass was held in the chapel, with prominent figures from the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government attending.

Members of the administration's Liberal Party (LP), of which Robredo was executive vice president, were also present during the mass.

LP spokesperson and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo "Erin" Tañada III told reporters after the mass that Robredo was "a big loss to the party."

"Members of the party are still discussing plans of flying to Naga to condole with the Robredo family," he said.

LP Vice Chairman and Senator Franklin Drilon concurred, noting that Robredo's death is still "a shock" to his party.

"Ayaw naming marinig na yumao na siya. Gusto lang sana naming marinig na nahanap na siya (We didn't want to hear that he has passed, only news that he has been found)," Drilon told reporters.

Drilon said he is flying to Naga City at 3 p.m. to convey his sympathies to Leni Robredo and her three children with the late Cabinet official.

The vigil continued after the mass and is set to end after a 4 p.m. mass. The Palace is also expected to disclose other planned activities in tribute of Robredo.

Meanwhile, the LSGH Chapel continues to be filled with men and women in uniform, who wished to pay tribute to Robredo, who also headed the Philippine National Police (PNP).

In a statement posted on the agency's Website, PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome said: "The entire 147,000 men and women of the PNP mourn the demise of the father of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) family, Secretary Jesse M. Robredo."

He added that all PNP camps in the country are hoisting the flag at halfp-mast "as an expression of our great respect to a great man and a good leader who steered the DILG-PNP family through the straight and narrow path of proper public service."

"As the Chief of the PNP, I extend the deepest sympathy of all officers and men to the family of the late Secretary," Bartolome said.