House starts probe on deadly NAIA shooting

By Danny Dangcalan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 28 2014 04:59 AM | Updated as of Jan 28 2014 12:59 PM

BACOLOD CITY , Philippines – The House committee on transportation has started its inquiry into the shooting at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) that killed four persons, including a Zamboanga del Sur mayor and an 18-month-old boy, last December.

“There is a need to integrate security operations at the NAIA to make it seamless,” Bacolod Rep. Evelio Leonardia, senior vice-chairman of the committee, said after the hearing last week. “We should also look at the rest of the country’s airports to see if they also need the same streamlining.”

Phille Thomas Estoesta of Bacolod City was killed last Dec. 20 when a stray bullet pierced his head. His family was waiting at the arrival area of NAIA Terminal 3 when two motorcycle-riding gunmen shot Labanga, Zamboanga del Sur Mayor Ukol Talumpa, his wife Lea and their nephew Salipudin Talumpa.

Estoesta’s mother, Marie Ann Lirazan; his grandmother, Amalia Lirazan; and cousin, Dhianne Philippe Uy, were also hit by stray bullets.

Leonardia said it was confirmed during the hearing that four security groups – the Philippine National Police, Airport Police, Office of Transportation Security and the Blue Guard – are operating at the airport.

“This is unwieldy, and their parameters sometimes get blurred,” he said.

Leonardia vowed to get to the bottom of the shooting as he had promised the people of Bacolod.

“I am taking an active role in this inquiry as my humble way of giving justice to baby Phille who lost his life at a very young age, and the other members of his family who were injured,” he said.

Among those who attended the hearing were NAIA general manager Angel Honrado, Superintendent Chris Laxa of the Aviation Security Group, OTS director Commodore Roland Recomon and police director Carmelo Espino Valmoria.

Leonardia also said they will invite the families of the victims who can shed light on the incident at the next hearing. Among them is Felipe Lirazan, a relative of the victims, who is also from Bacolod and had gone to the airport to pick up the Lirazans.