Slain mayors prove peace and order ‘lacking’ under Duterte – Aquino

Mara Cepeda
Slain mayors prove peace and order ‘lacking’ under Duterte – Aquino
'Doon ho lantad na lantad, walang kaduda-dudang may kakulangan,' says former president Benigno Aquino III on the peace and order situation in the country under the Duterte administration

MANILA, Philippines – Former president Benigno Aquino III said the number of mayors killed in the past 3 years showed that peace and order under his successor Rodrigo Duterte is “lacking.”

In his speech calling for the release of detained Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday, November 20, Aquino cited the assassinations of  Mayor Mariano Blanco III of Ronda, Cebu; and Mayor Antonio Halili of  Tanuan City, Batangas.

“Alam po ‘nyo bakit ko nabanggit ‘yan? ‘Yung mayor ho kadalasan, ‘yan ang head ng peace and order council ng kanyang bayan. Ibig sabihin po, siya nandoon, siya itinatalaga, dine-deputize sa Napolcom (National Police Commission) para pangalagaan ang kaayusan ng kanyang komunidad,” Aquino began.  

(You know why I mentioned them? The mayor is usually the head of the peace and order council of his or her town. That means he or she is the one deputized by Napolcom to take care of the peace and order in his or her community.)

“So isipin po ano: mayor ka na, kung hindi ka man head ng peace and order council, nilulusob ka sa tanggapan mo. At gumaganda raw ang ating peace and order. Pero siguro ho, doon ho lantad na lantad, walang kaduda-dudang may kakulangan,” added the former chief executive. 

(So think about it: you’re already the mayor, and the head of the peace and order council yet,  but you are ambushed in your office. And yet they are saying our peace and order situation is improving. Perhaps it is very obvious here that there is something lacking in that regard.)

In September 2018, Blanco was sleeping inside his office at the town hall when 4 unidentified men shot him to death. Halili was shot dead during a weekly flag-raising ceremony in front of city hall  on July 2, 2018. Both mayors had been linked to illegal drugs but they denied the allegation.

A Rappler tally showed at least 8 vice mayors and 13 mayors, including Blanco and Halili, have been killed since July 2016. (READ: Mayors, vice mayors killed under Duterte gov’t)

In July 2018, then-presidential spokesperson Harry Roque dismissed as “speculation” fears that Duterte’s kill threats and campaign against illegal drugs have emboldened certain people to order the assassination of their enemies. 

On Wednesday, Aquino also questioned why Duterte appointed Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs when the President himself declared that he didn’t trust her. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.