x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Mayor among four shot dead at Manila airport

Mayor Ukol Talumpa’s and his wife were declared dead on arrival at a nearby hospital along with the 18-month-old boy and a 25-year-old man.

A police investigator works at the crime scene after a local town mayor was ambushed in a shooting attack at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport . Che Cillo / Reuters
A police investigator works at the crime scene after a local town mayor was ambushed in a shooting attack at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport . Che Cillo / Reuters

MANILA // A gunmen killed a Filipino mayor, his wife, an adult bystander and an 18-month-old child on Friday at Manila’s international airport.

Terrified men and women screamed and cried while a man, seemingly fatally wounded, lay face down on the pavement outside the passenger terminal in a video clip uploaded to the local GMA television network’s website.

An airport policeman said was on duty about 10 metres away when the mayor and his party were attacked.

“I heard gunshots so I whipped out my pistol and ran to the area. But the gunman had fled. He had an accomplice on a motorcycle,” said the officer. “People were shocked and just stood there so I could not shoot.”

Mayor Ukol Talumpa and his wife were declared dead on arrival at a nearby hospital along with the 18-month-old boy and a 25-year-old man, said the airport’s general manager, Jose Angel Honrado.

Local radio reports said that the man was a nephew of the mayor, but that the boy was a bystander with no relation to Talumpa.

The justice secretary, Leila de Lima, said that the man killed in the attack had also served on Talumpa’s staff and that the child was the mayor’s grandchild.

At least five other people were wounded, including a niece of the mayor and a girl, 3, who sustained a head wound, hospital officials said.

Talumpa, the mayor of the southern town of Labangan, had been targeted by assassins before, Ms de Lima said.

“I understand that was the third attempt on the life of the mayor and this time the culprits succeeded.”

Talumpa, an opposition leader who was the town’s former vice mayor, had defeated in the May 2013 elections the incumbent mayor who is a political ally of President Benigno Aquino.

He had earlier survived a grenade attack that injured a police bodyguard on the troubled southern region of Mindanao in September last year, and also escaped an assassination attempt in Manila in 2010.

The Philippines is infamous for a brutal brand of democracy where politicians — particularly at local and provincial levels — are willing to bribe, intimidate or kill to ensure they win.

More than 60 people were killed in last May’s elections, when 18,000 posts from provincial governor to town and city mayors as well as city and town executive councils were contested.

Talumpa and his party were attacked as they stepped out of Terminal 3 at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport shortly after getting off a flight from the southern Philippines, Manila airport general Angel Honrado told reporters.

The terminal is named after the current president’s father, who was assassinated there 30 years ago. The terminal handles international and domestic flights, and is supposed to be a secure facility.

Agence France-Presse and Associated Press