A town mayor in Zamboanga del Sur, his wife and two others were killed by gunmen inside Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA) Terminal 3 on Friday. Four other persons were wounded in the shooting at around 11:15 a.m. at the airport’s arrival area, police reported.
Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado identified those killed as Mayor Ukol Talumpa of Labangan, his wife, Lea, Salapudin Talumpa, 25, and six-year-old Philip Thomas Esquestas.
The reports said the mayor’s group had just arrived from Cebu and were on their way to a waiting vehicle when they were fired at by men on a motorcycle.
Airport security guards chased after the gunmen but they escaped in the heavy late-morning traffic outside the terminal.
The wounded were brought to the Villamor Air Base hospital, before being airlifted by helicopter to the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City.
Aviation Security Group Supt. Christopher Lacsa said the mayor’s lone bodyguard was inside the airport building claiming his service firearm at the airline’s counter when the ambush took place.
Honrado said the absence of security cameras at the arrival area makes it difficult to identify the gunmen.
“For the record, there is no CCTV [closed-circuit television] outside the terminal,” Honrado told reporters during a media briefing at the arrival lobby of terminal 3.
A video clip uploaded to the GMA-7’s website showed terrified men and women screaming and crying while a man, apparently fatally wounded, lay face down on the pavement outside the passenger terminal.
Ukol Talumpa, a member of the political opposition, won a hotly contested election for mayor of Labangan in last May’s elections, defeating the incumbent who is a political ally of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Honrado said he could not confirm television news reports quoting unnamed eyewitnesses as saying the two suspects were wearing police uniforms.
Airport security forces chased after the gunmen but they escaped on a motorcycle in the heavy late-morning traffic outside the terminal, he added.
Honrado, speaking alongside Manila police officials at a news conference, said the authorities did not know the identity of the gunmen nor the motive for the attack.
In the footage obtained by GMA, which it said was taken by a bystander, spilled luggage and trolleys lay scattered on the curb on both sides of the gunned down man.
Two other people were shown crouching on the curb, while the voices of screaming men and women could be heard.
A taxi cab and four vans, all their doors open, were stopped on the driveway, with the hazard lights of one van still blinking on and off.
Police are withholding the identities of the other victims pending notification of next of kin, Honrado said.
“This is a very unfortunate incident that did happen at Terminal 3,” Honrado said. “Government agencies are trying their best to determine the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
Talumpa was the former vice mayor who successfully challenged Aquino ally and incumbent Wilson Nandang for the mayoral post in the last election, according Leo Santillan, spokesman for the provincial government of Zamboanga del Sur, which includes Labangan.
Santillan told reporters in Pagadian City, the provincial capital, that Talumpa, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition Party, had flown to Manila earlier in the day with his wife, two nephews and six other people.
Benjie L. Vergara, Anthony Vargas and AFP