National Days of Mourning for Robredo

Paterno Esmaquel II
Government officials salute the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Naga's 'honored son'

HONORED OFFICIAL. President Benigno Aquino III looks on as the late Jesse Robredo's body is prepared to be brought to his family. Photo from Malacañang/PCOO

MANILA, Philippines – The funeral for the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo should be “commensurate with the people’s affection and admiration for him,” the Palace said Tuesday, August 21. 

President Benigno Aquino III has thus declared National Days of Mourning from August 21 until the burial of one of the Philippines’ most awarded local leaders. “The nation has lost one of its great leaders and public servants,” Aquino explained in Presidential Proclamation No. 460.

This means the national flag shall be flown at half-mast, for 6 days, in government buildings in the Philippines and overseas. 

Until he is buried, the flag shall also be lowered to half-mast in Malacañang, Naga City, and in all offices and installations of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Local Government Academy, National Police Commission, Philippine National Police, and Philippine Public Safety College.

In a statement explaining Aquino’s proclamation, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda added the nation should give the Robredo family “time ot grieve.” “(Let) us refrain from engaging in any effort to pressure them as to any details concerning the funeral and accompanying ceremonies. These will be announced at the proper time,” Lacierda said.

On Aquino’s behalf, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr earlier created an interagency committee to handle Robredo’s state funeral and burial. 

The Committee on Funeral Arrangements and Burial is composed of the Office of the Executive Secretary, the Presidential Management Staff, the DILG, the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, (PCDSPO), and other agencies. “Secretary Robredo was a dedicated public servant and a champion of good governance whose track record has been an inspiration,” Ochoa said in a separate statement.

In another statement, Lacierda explained: “Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa has assigned the PCDSPO to chair the meetings of the committee. Its task will be to make all the necessary arrangements for the official honors and state funeral for the late Jesse M Robredo, in keeping with protocol, our laws, and the wishes of the bereaved family. The committee will, from time to time, be updating the public of arrangements through the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson as they are finalized and determined.”

Robredo’s body was retrieved Tuesday morning, almost three days after his plane crashed in Masbate. He was 54. (Watch the announcement on the retrieval below.)

Vice President Jejomar Binay also extended his condolences to Robredo’s family. “I urge everyone to pray for them, that they trust God’s plan for all of us. They need our wholehearted prayers and support,” Binay said.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr called Robredo “a great source of pride.” He added: “Beyond his numerous accomplishments as a government official, it weighs more as it recognizes and respects his integrity, sincerity, and dedication as a public servant as well as a family man,” said Belmonte.

Robredo’s former agency, the DILG, urged Filipinos to back Robredo’s “crown jewel” in local governance: a policy that requires local government units to disclose key financial documents on how funds are spent.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), which Robredo also supverised as DILG chief, said it will fly all its flags at half mast for Robredo. PNP chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome described this 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.”

Robredo’s fellow Bicolano, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, said the late secretary embodied “everything a Filipino leader should be.” “He was an honored son of Bicol, a decent and loving husband and father, and a principled man whose honesty and integrity were beyond question.”

Their messages echo the sentiment, shared by people who knew him, that Robredo is a “good and decent man.” (Watch more in the video below.)

Tributes for Robredo from his colleagues in government continued throughout the day:

  •  Budget Secretary Butch Abad: “Under his leadership, the DILG was able to make significant breakthroughs in establishing good governance practices among local government units and key government institutions. As brief as Secretary Jesse’s term was, we fervently believe that the reforms he championed in the DILG will be sustained faithfully long after his passing.”
  • Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas: “We’ve now returned a valiant knight from whence he came. He journeyed to do good, he fought and made peace. He knocked down walls and built bridges; he helped people. He touched and allowed people to come in to him… And now after his service he is returned to the bosom of his family and people.”
  • Aurora Rep Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara: “The Daang Matuwid lost one of its champions today. The best tribute we can give a great man is to continue the fight. Secretary Robredo, as a modern-day hero and public servant, should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.”
  • Western Samar Rep Mel Senen Sarmiento: “It is such a great loss to the improvement of local governance in the country, a key factor in our nation’s growth… Secretary Jesse Robredo is truly an icon in local governance.”
  • Davao City Rep Karlo Alexei Nograles: “Secretary Robredo was loved by so many. More than his accomplishments, he will forever be remembered for the many lives he has touched and changed for the better. We will miss him dearly.”
  • Iloilo City Rep Jerry Treñas: “He was someone I always respected. He was one of the most decent secretaries of the President.”
  • Mindanao Development Authority chair Luwalhati Antonino: “Secretary Jesse was a true harbinger of transformational leadership and his passion for good governance has reverberated as inspiration to many of our young leaders in Mindanao.”

Earlier during the day, Aquino himself visited Robredo’s family in Naga to accompany Robredo’s coffin and extend his condolences. 

The pilots of the plane that crashed – Jessup Bahinting and Kshitiz Chand – have yet to be recovered, however. –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at