Three people killed in Philippine university shooting

Suspected gunman Chao-Tiao Yumol (L) being escorted by police at Camp Karingal following his arrest, on July 24, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
Police investigators at the site of a shooting at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, in the Philippines, on July 24, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A body bag being carried from the scene after a shooting at Ateneo de Manila University, on July 24, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (REUTERS, AFP, XINHUA) - Three people died in a shooting at a university graduation ceremony in the Philippines’ capital region on Sunday (July 24), including a former mayor from the volatile south of the country, police said.

Local Quezon City police chief Remus Medina said the shooting appeared to have been an assassination of the former mayor of the southern Lamitan city, Ms Rose Furigay.

The suspect, wounded in a shoot-out with a campus security officer and arrested after a car chase, is now in custody and being interrogated, Mr Medina told reporters.

He fled the scene by forcing a driver out of their vehicle, before abandoning it and continuing his getaway in a jeepney, police said.

He was eventually detained near a church.

Police recovered two handguns and a silencer allegedly used by the suspect, who they identified as Chao-Tiao Yumol and said had a “long history” of legal disputes with Ms Furigay.

Yumol was on bail for a cyberlibel charge.

“He looks like he was a determined assassin,” Mr Medina told reporters, describing the incident as “isolated”.

Yumol, with abrasions on his face, was presented by police to reporters.

He accused Ms Furigay of being a “drug lord”.

The incident happened at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City at 2.55pm as law students and their families arrived for a graduation ceremony that was to be attended by the Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo was supposed to attend the law school's graduation ceremony on Sunday afternoon to give a speech. The event was cancelled after the shooting incident.

Supreme Court spokesman Brian Hosaka said Mr Gesmundo was "in transit when the shooting happened and was advised to turn back".

Quezon is part of the Manila capital region, an urban sprawl of 16 cities home to more than 13 million people.

Ms Furigay was shot as she was about to attend the graduation of her daughter from the law school of the university, one of the country’s most prestigious.

Ms Rose Furigay, a former city mayor in Basilan province, was killed, as was her executive assistant and a university security guard. PHOTO: ROSE FURIGAY/FACEBOOK

Ms Furigay's executive assistant and a university security guard were also killed. Her daughter was wounded and is in a stable condition in hospital, police said.

"We are quite distraught and bereaved by this occurrence," Ms Joy Belmonte, the mayor of a local government unit where the shooting happened, told AFP.

The suspect, who had no relatives at the graduation, is also a native of Lamitan city in Basilan province, a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, a pro-Islamic State extremist group known for its banditry and kidnapping.

In the Philippines, shooting incidents are sporadic, with owners required to have permits to carry guns in public. Private security officers in the country carry either handguns or shotguns, and firearms are a common sight in shopping malls, offices, banks, restaurants and even schools.

But targeted killings of politicians are fairly common, particularly during elections.

Police officers setting up police tape at Ateneo de Manila University following a shooting, in Quezon City, the Philippines, on July 24, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Ms Furigay, whose family dominates politics in Lamitan City, served three terms as mayor and was prevented by the constitution from seeking re-election in the May 9 polls.

She was succeeded by her husband, who had held the position before her – a common occurrence in the Philippines where powerful clans hand positions from one family member to another to maintain their influence.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo was the guest speaker for the event, but he was still travelling to the university when the shooting happened, a court spokesperson said.

The shooting happened on the eve of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s first State of the Nation address, in which he is expected to present his plan for reviving the economy and tackling inflation.

“We commit our law enforcement agencies to thoroughly and swiftly investigate these killings and bring all involved to justice,” said Mr Marcos Jr in a statement.

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