Finally after dangers untold and hardships unnumbered We Are Collective have published part 2 of their exposé of Leni Robredo and her rise to power.
At 61 pages when printed it is massive.
A novella. Who's got time for that? So let's break it down chapter by chapter and see what secrets they have revealed this time around.
CHAPTER 9: A ROUGH START
This chapter details the appointment of Jesse Robredo the position of DILG secretary.
Mar Roxas and Robredo were good friends and he sought Jesse's appointment to the post. Aquino however was not friends with Robredo, had heard rumours of his dealings in Naga, and was uneasy about appointing him to the post.
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
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.
As a precaution Aquino appointed his own trusted man, Rico E. Puno, to be the DILG undersecretary to keep an eye on Robredo.
Yet as shrewd and manipulative as Mar was, Noynoy had other ideas in mind. He would agree to appoint Mar’s choice to the DILG post, but he would also appoint his own trusted bagman as Undersecretary to act as a counterweight (You know, just in case).
The title of the chapter refers to the Luneta Hostage Crisis for which Jesse Robredo took all the blame being that he was the head of the DILG. But in reality it was Aquino's man who was in charge and not Robredo.
Truly, Jesse got off to a rough start. After surviving the Manila Hostage Incident, he would quickly learn the ropes. He may have been treated as a stooge, but not for long.
CHAPTER 10: THE STRAIGHT PATH
This chapter is about the rise of Adit Rentoy and his relationship to the Robredos.
Essentially Rentoy was a crooked cop who enriched himself through shady dealings.
Much like Jesse did, Adit would use dummy bank accounts under the names of his trustees, where he would deposit millions and millions of ill-gotten cash.
The title of this chapter refers to Aquino's winning of the presidency under the slogan "The Straight Path."
CHAPTER 11: ALL ABOUT 2016
This chapter is all about the power struggle within the two warren factions of Aquino's administration.
Despite denials from both camps, the growing animosity between Balay and Samar pretty much dictated the flow of the continuing power struggle within the DILG during Jesse's stint as Secretary. In fact, this power struggle would last the greater part of PNoy's presidency.
There were no clear lines that delineated these two factions. They were generally civil with each other and did not flaunt their animosity towards one another. Contrary to common perception, Noynoy was very much in control, and did not mince words with any of his cabinet members if they came to meetings unprepared. He showed no compunction berating anyone if he is not pleased.
"Everybody was cautious in front of the President," the source would say. "It was a silent war. Nobody flaunted it."
The chapter title refers to the reason there was such a war.
The cold war that went on between Balay and Samar was fueled by 2016. Six years before the next presidential election, it was already Mar vs. Binay.
Preparation for the 2016 presidential race consisted of lining the pockets of the Liberal Party.
Of course Jesse Robredo is alleged to have known about all this graft.
Jesse was an integral part of the Balay syndicate. And the reason why he was put there even if Noynoy hated his guts for making him come back to Bicol repeatedly in 2010 (apparently a self-serving move in Jesse's part), was to make sure Mar wins in 2016. There is even good reason to suppose that Mar was grooming Jesse to be his potential running mate in 2016.
CHAPTER 12: TURF WAR
Now we go back to the events of chapter 10 where Jesse Robredo was appointed Secretary of DILG with Puno in place to keep an eye on him.
The DILG was an extremely crucial agency and there was much at stake for Mar and company - exactly the reason why Mar vouched hard for Jesse's appointment. Yet Puno and Ochoa's camp beat them to the draw. Now the peculiar arrangement within the DILG (wherein Jesse had very little control over the police, and Puno was treating his turf as his own kingdom) irked Jesse more than anything else. Jesse definitely knew what Puno was up to. Puno was literally PNoy's own bagman, and he reported directly to Ochoa. Not only was Jesse bypassed by Puno, he was practically treated like shit.
Allegations of money made from illegal gambling, Jeuteng, abound.
Several bookies and other involved in illegal gambling were assassinated.
Killings were rife. All because of money.
CHAPTER 13: NARCO CITY, NARCO STATE
This chapter details allegations that Jesse Robredo protected drug lords and profited from the drug trade.
CHAPTER 14: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
This chapter tells us that Jesse Robredo probably had a list of politicians involved in the drug trade and was keeping it or using it for leverage.
In 2016, rumors also started circulating that Jesse's death may have been the result of foul play due to another "list" he allegedly submitted to President Aquino containing the names of drug personalities including that of Joel Pagdilao, one of the narco-generals identified by President Duterte during the onset of his anti-drug campaign.
Surely, what Jesse was doing was nothing short of blackmail. Of course Jesse wanted the big money, but in the interest of self-preservation, he also did what he had to in order to survive. Jesse was a consummate politician, and was schooled in the art of political survival - mentored mostly by his father Tio Peping, his uncle Luis Villafuerte, and his patron Fidel Ramos. Aquino was about to let him go. Time was of the essence, so Jesse had to act fast.
Of course Aquino may have been deeply involved in the drug trade as well and that just complicated things too much.
There exists two possibilities. One is that Jesse may have underestimated PNoy's involvement and that he may have shown the President the list in order to impress his boss and "expose" Puno's illicit activities, hoping that PNoy will realize that giving Puno those powers over the PNP was a momentary lapse in judgment.Another possibility, and I submit that this is closer to the truth, is that Jesse may have known all along that the President was involved. So he used his "knowledge" of Puno's activities as leverage so he can keep his job and force the President's hand to get rid of Puno in order to get full control of the PNP, something he desperately needed to secure his party's interests as well as his own.
Both Robredo and Aquino were blackmailing the other with their dark, open secrets.
Yet Noynoy was also aware of Jesse's history and drug links. Surely, there is no trust among thieves. Aquino distrusted Jesse since day one and was completely aware of his duplicity and skullduggery - the reason why he wanted to get rid of Jesse from the get go. They were subliminally blackmailing each other in order to protect their own selfish interests.
It's rather boring and sickening reading through all this garbage. Philippine politics is truly filled with scum.
CHAPTER 15: PRELUDE TO A DEMISE
Now we are getting to some shady dealings just before Jesse Robredo died.
First we are told he was investigating Aquino's man Puno.
It would later be revealed some time after his death that Jesse was conducting an investigation on the procurement of high-powered rifles which again involved Puno, his favorite undersecretary.
Then the chapter dives into details about Jesse's greed in past business deals.
Not only was Jesse excessively greedy, he was also known to bamboozle and shortchange those who dealt with him. And it didn't matter if these were his friends. This happened to Julian "Jun" Lavadia, Jesse's close childhood friend who was a city councilor and a former barangay chairman in Tabuco, where Jesse grew up. Like many of Jesse's minions, Jun was struggling financially, and had to leave his rented house in Barangay Tabuco due to money problems.
The point is that Robredo wanted in on Puno's schemes.
There are countless other stories that one will hear in Naga about Jesse's mercenary tactics. What he was doing to Puno and his equally corrupt allies was nothing new, especially if you ask Nagueños - particularly those who did business with him. It was a classic shakedown. Jesse Robredo style. For all his greed and avarice, Jesse could have bit more than he can chew. He may have overreached his boundaries and might have gone a bit too far. He may even have messed with the wrong people.
In reality, he was just sending a message to Puno. He was the DILG Secretary and these fuckers are making a lot of money under his very nose. No fucking way he'll simply allow that to happen without demanding his share.
CHAPTER 16: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
So Jesse's plane crashes and he dies. But then....
Fisherman Joseph Belda was at sea with his young son when he saw the plane flying low overhead. He noticed that one of the propellers wasn't functioning and that the plane was wobbling and made a slight turn before it fell crashing into the sea. Upon hitting the water, the plane broke apart. He goes straight to the crash site.
Suddenly, somebody pops out of the water. He is holding on to a black bag. It was June Abrazado, Jesse Robredo's aide. Not having the slightest idea who he is, Belda fishes him out of the water and hauls him into his boat. The plane disappears from view a few moments later.
This detail of the black bag is never heard from again.
I was watching the news with some friends the day Jesse's plane crashed and I swear I saw a news footage from ABS-CBN where Belda describes in detail how he saw Abrazado floating at sea with his bag and that the bag seemed heavier than Abrazado when he pulled him out of the water.
This particularly curious detail would disappear from later news reports.
Leni was playing along all this time.
Over the years, no other entity in the country has perfected the art of necropolitics, otherwise known as the "politics of death," more than the yellows. Here in the Philippines, political capital can be built upon the death of a popular political figure. Noynoy Aquino's sudden rise to power was mostly due to the highly effective PR sympathy campaign generated by the death of his mother, the former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino in 2009. Cory's presidency was also a direct result of her husband's death in 1983.
There was a huge PR campaign to sanctify the memory of Jesse Robredo.
People loved Jesse. His sudden posthumous popularity was anchored on a symbol. A trademark that Jesse himself had perfected for so many years as mayor of Naga City. As the PR machinery's wheels started turning, everybody wanted to ride the Jesse Robredo bandwagon. Even those who knew very little of Jesse started talking about how exceptionally kind he was, and would contribute to the countless testimonials about someone who just died because of a plane crash. Add to this the numerous published articles recounting Jesse's immaculate life story and the guy could have easily qualified for sainthood. Tales of Jesse's "heroism" would fill the pages of broadsheets and tabloids alike, and the TV networks featured endless specials about Jesse's inspiring backstory. At this time, the only thing that seemed missing was Jesse's spirit performing a couple of verified miracles. The PR spin was so good that if Jesse's ashes were sent to the Vatican, the Pope would have been ready to canonize Blessed Jesse Robredo of La Isla Peñafrancia.
This chapter then details inconsistencies in the timeline regarding the recovery of Jesse's plane and body which is meant to allege that a cover-up of some kind occurred and only a full investigation will bring anything to light.
“There are two prime characteristics of the Filipinos” he said, “which today render them absolutely unfit for self-government. The average Filipino mind can form no conception of the duty of officials to the people, and it can form no conception of the dignity of labor. The very fact that the Filipino is so shiftless, so worthless, so untrustworthy, and so helpless is all the more reason this Nation should reach out the helping hand to him.”