The mayor of Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur and three others were shot dead at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 Friday morning.
Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Jose Angel Honrado said Mayor Ukol Talumpa and several others were shot at by an unidentified assailant at the loading bay area of NAIA 3 at 11:15 a.m., causing panic among the people at the terminal.
Talumpa, his wife Lea, and two others, 25-year-old Salipuddin Talumpa and 18-month-old Phil Thomas Lirasan, were declared dead on arrival at the Vilamor Air Base Hospital.
The mayor sustained a gunshot wound to his head and another one to his body, while his wife sustained 4 gunshot wounds to her body.
Salipuddin, the mayor's nephew, sustained three gunshot wounds to his body and one to his head. Phil Thomas, on the other hand, was shot in the head.
Those wounded were Mayor Talumpa's niece, Romaida Talumpa; Ronda Lantagan, 26; Phil Thomas' mother Mary Anne Lirasan, 28; Amalia Dela Cruz Lirasan, 58; and Dianne Philip Uy, 3.
The five wounded were initially brought to Villamor Air Base Hospital before being transferred to East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City.
Uy will need to undergo an operation after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head.
Honrado said Talumpa and his relatives arrived at the airport at around 10 a.m. The group came from Zamboanga City via Cebu Pacific flight 5J 852.
He said witnesses are now coordinating with investigators. He also appealed to others who witnessed the shooting to come forward, as he admitted that no closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera was installed to cover the site where the ambush incident occurred.
Aiza Talumpa, the mayor's sister, told dzMM that the local chief executive was supposed to spend Christmas in Manila.
Asked whether she knows someone who holds a grudge against her brother, Aiza said, "Hindi ko po alam. Wala po akong alam. Bago lang po siya nahalal na mayor. Nitong nakaraang eleksyon lang pero dati pa siya vice mayor."
Suspects wore police uniforms, says witness
One of the witnesses, a rent-a-car dispatcher who declined to be named, told radio dzMM that he saw the gunman in police uniform and riding a motorcycle driven by a cohort who was waiting in front of Loading Bay 9.
"Nung tumigil dito ang motor, sa tapat ko mismo, pagkatapos ng putukan lahat ng pasahero nagtakbuhan sa loob. Iyung gunman naka-uniporme ng pulis, nakajacket. Sumakay sa motor at bigla biglang humarurot. Sayang nga lang at hindi nahulog," the witness said.
"Akala namin siya iyung humahabol sa namaril, yun pala siya yung namaril."
In a separate ANC interview, the witness said the motorcycle that the suspects used had no registration plate. He added he also failed to recognize the faces of the suspects as the motorcycle driver wore a helmet while the gunman wore a cap.
The witness said several airport policemen tried to run after the suspects to no avail.
Honrado, meanwhile, said a cellphone video captured the ambush incident and investigators are set to examine it.
Chief Supt. Jose Erwin Villacorte, director of Southern Police District (SPD), said police checkpoints have been established within a 1.5-kilometer radius of the airport.
"Magko-coordinate kami ng Aviation Security as to how the investigation will go. [There is] information na may riding-in-tandem in police uniform. Iyun ang information na aming na receive. Iyun ang aming ibinigay sa aming mga stations," he said.
Honrado said there were no means to prevent firearms from reaching the loading bay as this is considered a public space and a non-restricted area.
Nonetheless, Honrado said the MIAA is now coordinating with the police in order to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
Today's shooting, apparently, was not the first attempt on Talumpa's life.
Last September 19, 2012, a police officer escorting Talumpa, then vice-mayor of Labangan, was injured after an unidentified suspect hurled a grenade at the official's vehicle.
Authorities said the grenade exploded near Talumpa's vehicle while it was parked outside a recruitment agency in San Pedro St., Pagadian City.
Talumpa was inside the vehicle with his wife and another relative when the explosion occurred.
PO1 Mohamad Mangumpara, who was still outside of the vehicle, was the only one hurt in the blast.
Talumpa also escaped a slay try in Ermita, Manila in 2010.
The remains of the mayor, his wife Lea and nephew Salipuddin are set to be brought to a relative's house in Las Piñas City before being flown to their hometown in Zamboanga del Sur.