MANILA, Philippines– A shooting outside of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 yesterday has left four dead and five others injured.
Identified fatalities include Labangan town, Zamboanga del Sur Mayor Ukol Talumpa, his wife Leah, 25-year-Sarifudin Talumpa and an eight-month old baby boy identified as Philip Thomas Estuesta.
Talumpa’s bodyguards retrieved the firearms they had deposited before boarding their flight when the shooting took place.
MIAA General Manager ret. Gen. Jose Angel Honrado said Mayor Talumpa was rushed to the Philippine Air Force General Hospital while his relatives were taken to the Villamor Air Base Hospital but were all declared dead on arrival.
Honrado also stated that at least four others were injured, but did not disclose other details. It was not confirmed whether or not they were with Talumpa.
However, a separate police report said that two of the injured were adult women, one of whom sustained a wound in the left hand while the other took a bullet in the left chest. The other casualty, said to be a three-year-old girl, reportedly had a bullet lodged in her head.
The police identified the wounded people as 26-year old Ronda Landagan, 28 year old Mary Ann Linasan, 58-year old Amalia dela Cruz Linasan, Dianne Philip Uy, Romaida Talumpa while the three-year old girl remained unidentified.
Police spokesman Senior Supt. Wilben Mayor said that based on witnesses, the gunmen were wearing a police uniform and a cap while the driver of the getaway motorcycle was wearing a black jacket and a helmet and fired successive shots at the victims and even changed magazines before he and the motorcycle fled the scene.
There was no word on a possible motive but violent attacks linked to political rivalries, family feuds and business disputes are common in the Philippines, which have left hundreds of people dead over the years.
Malacañang condemned the ambush and said imperiled the safety of citizens in the airport’ even as President Benigno Aquino III ordered the tightening of security measures in vital installations of the shooting incident.
“We condemn this blatant act of violence that has killed an innocent bystander and imperiled the safety of citizens in the airport,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma stressed.
“The government will adopt necessary measures to ensure the citizen’s safety especially during the holiday season,” Secretary Coloma added.
“President Benigno Aquino needs to step up security measures in metro Manila because violence, regardless of whether it’s politically motivated or not, is a drag on the country’s image,” Political science lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila University Richard Javad Heydaria said.
On the other hand, Honrado admitted that NAIA Terminal 3 is not fully compliant, noting that it either lacks or needs to update a total of 23 systems.
However, he assured that CCTV cameras will soon be installed in the area. He said by July 2014, the whole NAIA Terminal 3 will be 100 percent fully operational.
For the meantime, Honrado said investigators are relying on testimonies of witnesses who might have also captured photos and videos on the ambush incident.
Philippine National Police-Aviation Group official confirmed that they have in their custody at least three witnesses to the ambush.
Director of the PNP-Aviation Securtiy group Chief Supt. Christoper Laxa said that the three have been turned over to the Pasay City Police Station’s Criminal Investigation Division where investigators are gathering their statements.
Laxa also said that the ambush was well-planned as the assassin made sure that Talumpa will be finished off this time after the mayor survived at least two attempts on his life. Crime operatives recovered 17 bullet casings from a .45 caliber pistol at the crime scene.
Laxa added that the Southern Police District will now lead the investigation of the incident.
As pursuit operations developed, Justice Sec. Laila De Lima immediately issued order to the Lemos National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officer-in-charge Medardo De to conduct an investigation for the killing of Mayor Talumpa and three others.
“I understand that was the third attempt on the life of the mayor and this time, the culprits succeeded and it’s extremely deplorable that even the wife, grandson and a staff were also killed,” De Lima said in a text message.
The attack was the third reported on Talumpa in as many years and may raise concerns among tourists about safety in a country that is just starting to recover from the effects of Typhoon Haiyan, which in November killed more than 6,000 people and left an $8.2 billion bill for reconstruction.