Minister asked to resign for Manila airport security breach

MANILA, Nov. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Philippine Senate President Franklin Drilon on Sunday called for the resignation of a cabinet member for brief takeover of a Manila airport's control tower by two armed men a day earlier.

Drilon said Leandro Mendoza, secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), should be held responsible for failing to secure the control tower of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2.

Former Air Transportation Office chief Panfilo Villaruel and his aide took over the control tower by force around midnight Friday but were shot dead in a police assault to retake the tower early Saturday morning. Villaruel claimed he made the move to "fight rampant graft and corruption prevailing at NAIA."

"Secretary Mendoza is an embarrassment and he embarrassed our country in the eyes of the world. He and his subordinates in the DOTC have failed to secure the airport tower," Drilon said.

He said Mendoza, a former national police chief, was expected to implement effective security measures on the country's important transportation and communication facilities.

"If he cannot secure such a vital facility like the NAIA 2 tower, which controls incoming and outgoing flights to ensure the safety of airlines passengers, how can we expect Secretary Mendozato perform the other significant responsibilities of a DOTC secretary?" Drilon asked.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Saturday the airport incident was not an attempt to take over the government, but she ordered the security forces to be on maximum alert as a precautionary measure.

The incident came amid a mounting constitutional crisis and warnings of a possible coup attempt following moves by members of the House of Representatives to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, who was accused of misusing government funds. Enditem


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