Former Vice President and widow of the Former DILG Secretary Jesse M. Robredo handed the award to the winners of the Gawad JMR. (Photo from Jesse M. Robredo Foundation)

Brooke’s Point Vice Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano was awarded the first Gawad Jesse M. Robredo (JMR), a recognition given to local chief executives.

The former Mayor was awarded with this year’s winner, Former Vigan City Mayor Juan Carlo Medina, in a ceremony held Tuesday, September 5.

The Gawad Jesse M. Robredo is an award given by the Jesse Robredo Foundation, Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, Galing Pook, and the DLSU Jesse Robredo Institute of Governance for mayors who embody “matino, mahusay at may puso” brand of leadership.

According to the Municipal Information Office (MIO) of Brooke’s Point, Feliciano was chosen among 56 mayoral nominees from different towns in the country.

Launched in 2019, the Gawad JMR was supposed to be given in 2020 but was temporarily halted by the pandemic.

“Your outstanding leadership and remarkable efforts to champion transparency, accountability, and people’s participation have not only made an impact to your constituents but have also established a model of excellence in local governance,” the Jesse M. Robredo Foundation said in a statement.

Feliciano, in an interview with Rappler, said that she finds herself unworthy of the award aligned with the legacy of the former Department of Interior and Local Government secretary and Naga Mayor Jesse Robredo.

Known as a staunch anti-mining advocate, Feliciano was suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged grave abuse of authority after issuing a closure and cease-and-desist order to Ipilan Nickel Corporation in 2017 for clearing 20 hectares of forest and cutting 7,000 trees within the Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape.

She was later vindicated after the Ombudsman reversed its ruling and dismissed the charges against Feliciano.

“Tuloy lang kahit mahirap. Ganoon sa Pilipinas eh. Yung pag gawa ng mabuti, yun pa pala yung parurusahan. Yun pa pala yung ipepersecute. Yun pala yung ipoprosecute. Pero sabi ko, sa bandang huli naman laging mananalo pa rin yung mabuti,” she said

Feliciano received a trophy sculpted by artist Toym Imao and a grant for her chosen advocacy.

Earlier this year, she was also named as one of Asia Pacific’s top leaders on sustainability by Singapore-based social enterprise organization Eco-Business.

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