Building Trust and Promoting Accountability: Jesse Robredo and Naga City, Philippines, 1988-1998

When Jesse Robredo became mayor of Naga City in 1988, he faced a population disenchanted with the corrupt and closeted manner in which previous city administrations functioned. The once-thriving Philippine city was broke. Despite Naga’s landlocked location in one of the most impoverished regions of the country, Robredo had a plan to revitalize the city. He first focused on closing the budget deficit and answered citizens’ demands to crack down on illegal activities that had benefited previous administrations. Next, to promote transparency and accountability in government, he took steps to increase citizen participation in government functions.  By the end of his nine years as mayor—term limits prevented him from running again—Robredo had closed the budget gap, and Naga had gained international recognition as a model of effective and transparent local government.  

Michael Scharff drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Naga City and Manila, Philippines, in March 2011.  Case published July 2011.

Associated Interview(s):  Jesse Robredo

citizen participation
deficit reduction
Focus Area(s)
City Management
Building a Reform Team and Staff
Containing Patronage Pressures
Countering Criminal Economies
Getting the News Out/Managing Expectations
Critical Tasks
Building citizen support
Municipal centers of government
Overcoming corruption
Revenue generation
Core Challenge
Credibility (trust)
Country of Reform
Case Studies
Michael Scharff