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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 November, 2003, 06:43 GMT
Two killed in Manila control tower
Soldiers at Manila airport
Passengers heard gunfire as the control tower was retaken
Philippine police shot dead a former top civil aviation administrator and navy reserve officer who seized the control tower at Manila's airport to protest against corruption.

Panfilo Villaruel, former head of the Air Transport Office and Richard Gatchalian took the control of the tower at gunpoint for several hours from Friday midnight.

After a brief but intense gun battle, security forces retook the tower.

"We are being killed here... We surrender," Mr Villaruel shouted on live radio before he was shot.

Midnight snack

The two men and their driver had walked into the tower using a security pass for the research Mr Villaruel was carrying out, an airport official said.

They reportedly delivered a midnight snack to the five air traffic controllers before asking them to leave and sending the driver home.

"We are not terrorists, " Mr Villaruel said on national radio.

"If I don't do this there will never be any change in the way the government is run."

Security and airport officials said law enforcers had to storm the tower because there was a flight from the United States due before dawn.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo - whose government wholeheartedly backs George W Bush's war on terror - has attempted to play down the incidence.

It had sparked fears of a repeat of a mutiny by several hundred soldiers in July.

Passengers at the airport were said to be frightened by the sound of gunfire.

"I assure the people and the world that our airport is safe an sound," she said.

The Philippines is consistently ranked by watchdogs, such as Transparency International, as one of the world's most corrupt nations.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Raffy Pima, local journalist
"Officials declared the situation under control"



SEE ALSO:
Profile: Gloria Arroyo
28 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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