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NBI to join probe of airport tower siege

- Marichu A. Villanueva -
President Arroyo is amenable to an independent probe by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) over allegations of the use of excessive force in the slaying of former Air Transportation Office (ATO) chief Panfilo Villaruel and an aide, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said yesterday.

"This inquiry will examine, among others, the issues on the excessive use of force or the perceived security lapses in the airport and the necessary measures to be taken as warranted," he said.

Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo is allowing the NBI to join the investigation "to make sure that the result will be acceptable to all parties concerned."

Mrs. Arroyo earlier directed Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Leandro Mendoza to lead a fact-finding investigation into last Saturday’s seizure of the control tower by Villaruel and his aide, Navy Lt. (sg) Ricardo Catchillar. Both were shot and killed by operatives of the Aviation Security Group (ASG) after they seized the control tower of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for three hours before dawn Saturday.

Villaruel’s death however triggered an outcry from various sectors with anti-government forces joining in.

Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, for his part, deplored what he called "unwarranted glorification" of the victims by some sectors.

"Why do we glorify wrongdoers who clearly posed a threat to our peace and order and at the same time to task law enforcers who are just doing their duty?" he said.

Following the Villaruel’s emotion-filled interment at the Manila Memorial Cemetery in Parañaque City yesterday, the family and relatives of the slain former ATO chief said they will start planning legal actions against the ASG officials.

Eldest son, Fredrick Villaruel said they are coordinating their legal plans with lawyer Ed Escueta. – With Edu Punay, Evelyn Macairan

AIR TRANSPORTATION OFFICE

AVIATION SECURITY GROUP

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS

ED ESCUETA

EVELYN MACAIRAN

FOLLOWING THE VILLARUEL

FREDRICK VILLARUEL

MANILA MAYOR LITO ATIENZA

MANILA MEMORIAL CEMETERY

MRS. ARROYO

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