JESSE Robredo has logged some 16 years as mayor of Naga City — enough time for most politicians to consolidate forces and become so entrenched in power that they turn into local bosses. Yet while there is no question that Robredo is a dominating figure in Naga City, the metropolitan pride of Bicolandia thrives largely because of the crucial role played by its residents in the way it is governed.

Naga Mayor Jesse RobredoRobredo was lucky that Naga already had a strong tradition of people participation by the time he began his first stint as mayor there in 1988. But he built on that tradition and institutionalized it through a council made up of groups from civil society. Now there is even an initiative that uses information technology to make the local government more responsive to the needs of the people. Not surprisingly, Naga City is one among the only nine areas in the country cited by the United Nations Development Fund as stellar performers in the implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The changes in Naga have not gone unnoticed; the city has received more than 150 awards and citations since Robredo became mayor, while the city chief executive himself has garnered some 21 awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 2000. And while Robredo has more than 70 cases filed against him at the Office of the Ombudsman, most of his constituents continue to have faith in him.

Now that Robredo says the coming elections will be the last in which he will run for mayor, however, some have been wondering whether the reforms he has put in place will last long after he is no longer in office.

We hope this latest article in i Report‘s series on Faces of Change and Changeless Places will inspire readers to vote for leaders of the people, as well as prompt them to see the value of their own participation in their communities.

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4 Responses to People power thrives in Naga City



April 29th, 2007 at 10:41 pm

Granting without argument that Mayor Robredo Of Naga city deserves all the accolades and rewards for good governance, but these too involve personality.. If the person is good and the intentions are good chances are he or she may may carry a good leadership during the mandate, but what about during the “changing of the guards”? Will the same personality or personalities may be able to carry on with all the checks and balance in place? Or the governance changes depending on the leaders? So, altogether it is the Institution that’s needed to be changed, that no individual or leader can just walk in and make it like his/her fiefdom or kingdom, and the subjects hoping that he or she will be guided accordingly. That is just too much a gamble to take, every time a leader is chosen.


Alecks P. Pabico

May 2nd, 2007 at 5:50 pm


In the case of Naga, the local government had at least the foresight of institutionalizing participatory governance by enacting the “People Empowerment” Ordinance in 1995.

Still, civil-society groups there are grappling with the same dilemma regarding the sustainability of reforms as the Robredo era comes to a close. You just cannot discount the insiduous machinations of traditional politics. Hopefully, the gains made with institutionalizing people’s participation in local governance will have made it harder for the trapos to undo.



May 5th, 2007 at 10:09 pm

matagal na palang Chinese ang alkalde ng Naga???

basahin dito



May 16th, 2007 at 7:38 am

We are very happy to know that there are still good leaders in our country.
Before, i have the perception that all politicians are dirty, corrupt,
self serving, etc…

If all our leaders are like Mayor Jesse Robredo I believed Philippines will be one of the best asian country in the world. I hope that his love for his country and people will be his lifetime destiny to bring back Philippines to be great again and we salute him for that.

Roly & Glory Tan
Cagayan de Oro City

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