The Thrilla in Manilla - What is Going On


Malko In Charge
Staff member
2 killed after seizing Manila air control tower
Friday, November 7, 2003 Posted: 3:50 PM EST (2050 GMT)


MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Philippine armed forces early Saturday killed two armed men, including the former head of the nation's Air Transport Office, who had seized the control tower at the nation's main airport, a government official said.

A third person involved in the takeover also was believed to have been killed.

"The situation has been neutralized," said National Security Adviser Roilo Golez. "National police assaulted the position of these three ... since they were considered armed and dangerous."

The takeover had begun shortly after midnight when Panfilo Villaruel, a former pilot who once headed the Air Transport Office, seized the control tower with two others.

In a live interview on radio during the siege, Villaruel was complaining of corruption in the government when gunfire broke out. He said his men were being killed and that he was ready to surrender.

"In the middle of a live interview, we could hear the gunshots over the radio that were coming through his phone," said Reuters Bureau Chief John O'Callaghan. "It was just a staccato burst really."

Golez said Villaruel was among the two dead. He said he believed the third person was also killed, but he was awaiting confirmation of that.

He said the "situation was placed under control by Special Forces" around 3 a.m. Authorities are investigating the motive behind the takeover, but Golez said, "this appears to be a very isolated" event.

The Air Transport Office for which Villaruel once worked handles all of the facilities at the airports throughout the nation, including the air control towers.

The last flight of the day had already taken off when the incident began.


New Member
Here's a bit more on it. Typical Filipino cops. Shoot first ask questions later. Seem's like the Chief's son was flying a Philippine Airlines flight that got diverted.

NAIA tower siege: 2 killed

By Sandy Araneta
The Philippine Star 11/09/2003

Police special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams shot and killed former Air Transportation Office (ATO) chief Panfilo Villaruel and a former Navy commando after they seized the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)-Terminal II control tower and held it for three hours before dawn yesterday.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Edgardo Manda said the two SWAT teams were dispatched to the tower after Villaruel and Navy Lt. (sg) Richard Gatchillar seized the tower armed with guns and explosives and claimed they wanted to expose government corruption.

MIAA assistant general manager for security and emergency services Angel Atutubo said the seizure of the tower was not a "terrorist act" but security forces had to make a judgment call on the situation because it could have endangered more lives.

Atutubo said the two men and their driver walked into the NAIA control tower using a security pass for unspecified research Villaruel was doing at the airport.

The tower was built when Villaruel, 60, was ATO chief during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos and he was very familiar with the airport and its personnel, he said.

Officials said Villaruel knew many of the control tower staff and gained access to the control room because they said they had with them a midnight snack for the six air traffic controllers at the towers 11th floor.

But once they were inside the control room, they brandished their caliber .45 and 9-mm, guns, a grenade and several explosives, forced the six controllers to leave and sent their driver home.

The air traffic controllers were identified as Rolly Pelayo, Loida Pilapil, Mamerto Olpindo, Hermogenes Aguinaldo, Ma. Fe Malte and John Carreon.

The two then barricaded themselves inside the air traffic control room and cut off electricity to the rest of the tower.

Incoming Philippine Airlines flight PR107 from Vancouver, Canada was diverted to the Mactan International Airport. PR107's pilot was Villaruel's son, Paul Michael, reported radio station dzBB.

Senior Superintendent Andres Caro, chief of the police Aviation Security Group (ASG), said it was already 1 a.m. when he received the report that Villaruel and the Navy officer seized the control room.

Caro said negotiations and a visit by current ATO chief Nilo Jatico were rebuffed by Villaruel.

Caro said he dispatched the SWAT teams because flight operations were about to start soon and decided to assault the control room at around 2:30 a.m.

The SWAT teams blasted the air control room's locked steel door and Villaruel and Gatchillar were at the view deck when the policemen barged into the room.

Villaruel was then being interviewed by dzBB and he was heard shouting their surrender when the police opened fire, killing Villaruel and Gatchillar. Police forensic examiners said both men sustained multiple gunshot wounds in the head and body.

Hundreds of passengers waiting at the airport terminals were unaware of the incident but many were alarmed by the distant sound of gunfire.

Navy spokesman Cmdr. Geronimo Malabanan said Gatchillar, 38, dropped out of a Navy special forces training course and had been assigned to a group that provides security to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters.

AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero said Gatchillar was charged in August last year with conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman and was on "floating" status. He was still undergoing court martial.