Zambo town Mayor, wife, kin waylaid upon arrival
THE mayor of Labangan town in Zamboanga del Sur who survived two previous attempts on his life was shot dead along with his wife, an eight-month old child and another companion in a broad daylight ambush Friday as they stepped outside the NAIA Terminal 3.
Five others, including a three-year old girl, were injured in the incident which occurred before noon.
Police spokesman Senior Supt. Wilben Mayor said that based on witnesses’ account, a man riding behind the driver of a motorcycle who was wearing a police uniform and jacket staged the ambush.
MIAA General Manager ret. Gen. Jose Angel Honrado, citing police reports, identified the fatalities as 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.
Honrado said Mayor Talumpa was rushed to the Philippine Air Force General Hospital while his relatives were taken to the Villamor Air Base Hospital. They were all declared dead on arrival.
Malacanang, meanwhile, condemned the ambush which it said ‘imperiled the safety of citizens in the airport’ even as President Benigno Aquino III ordered the tightening of security measures in vital installations following the shooting.
“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 said.
“The government will adopt necessary measures to ensure the citizen’s safety especially during the holiday season,” Coloma added.
The President also ordered the Philippine National Police to conduct pursuit operations against the still unknown assailants.
As this developed, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the ambush.
“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.
Talumpa and his companions flew from Zamboanga City via Cebu on board Cebu Pacific Flight 5J 852 and arrived at around 11:15 a.m.
Reports said that after claiming their luggage, the mayor’s party left the arrival area and went straight to a waiting vehicle near Arrival Bay 2, where the ambush took place.
Honrado confirmed that at least four others were injured, but did not disclose other details. It was not also sure whether or not they were with Talumpa.
A separate police report, however, 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 as 26-year old Ronda Landagan, 28 year old Mary Ann Linasan, 58-year old Amalia dela Cruz Linasan, Dianne Philip Uy and Romaida Talumpa. The three-year old girl remained unidentified.
Talumpa’s bodyguards were reportedly retrieving the firearms they had deposited before boarding their flight when the shooting took place.
The suspect reportedly fired successive shots at the victims and even changed magazines before he and the motorcycle fled the scene, according to witnesses.
Chief Supt. Christoper Laxa, director of the PNP-Aviation Securtiy gruuop, said scene of the crime operatives recovered 17 bullet casings from a .45 caliber pistol at the crime scene.
NAIA Terminal 3 Manager, Engr. Octavio Lina said the airport security personnel manning the area failed to fire against the suspects for fear of hitting innocent bystanders since the incident happened at the arrival curbside where many people converge.
While there was no CCTV in the area where the ambush took place, a porter was reportedly able to take a video of the incident, although some say he was only able to take photos.
Honrado said some eyewitnesses are already being questioned by the police to help in the investigation.
This was confirmed by the Philippine National Police-Aviation Group official, who said that they have in their custody at least thgree witnesses to the ambush.
Laxa said the three have been turned over to the Pasay City Police Station’s Criminal Investigation Division where investigators are gathering their statements.
He added that the Southern Police District will now lead the investigation of the incident.
Laxa said 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.
Laxa said a group of policemen based at NAIA Terminal 3 chased the gunman who was riding a motorcycle, but to no avail, because the policemen were caught in a traffic jam.
The mayor had survived two ambush attacks - one in November 2010 in Ermita and in September 2012 when a grenade was lobbed in his house in Pagadian City.
Talumpa was the town’s vice mayor when the previous attacks happened, and was elected mayor this year under the opposition Nationalist People’s Coalition.
Labangan is a town of nearly 40,000 people, located about 270 kilometers (168 miles) from Zamboanga city, the commercial center of the Zamboanga peninsula.With Francisco Tuyay, Joyce P. Pañares, Rio N. Araja, Rey Requejo, PNA, AFP
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