By Norman P. Aquino/businessweek.com – The mayor of a town in the province of Zamboanga del Sur in the restive southern Philippines was shot dead in an ambush at Manila’s main airport, police said.
Ukol Talumpa, mayor of Labangan, his wife and at least two others died in the shooting yesterday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City near Manila, police director Chief Superintendent Christopher Laxa said by phone. Five others were injured in the attack, he said.
Talumpa was ambushed at the airport’s arrival area by two men dressed in police uniforms on a motorcycle, police spokesman Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor said in a separate phone interview. Talumpa had arrived from Zamboanga city on a Cebu Pacific plane, Interaksyon news website reported.
The attack, which was the third reported on Talumpa in as many years, may raise concerns among tourists about safety in a country that is just starting to recover from the effects of Typhoon Haiyan, which in November killed more than 6,000 people and left an $8.2 billion bill for reconstruction. The government is also in the final stages of long negotiations with Muslim rebels in the south for a peace accord.
“President Benigno Aquino needs to step up security measures in metro Manila because violence, regardless of whether it’s politically motivated or not, is a drag on the country’s image,” Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila University, said by phone. “Everybody knows that we don’t have the best airport in the world. This egregious incident shows tourists that it’s also not a safe airport.”
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