THE 18-month-old boy from Bacolod City, who was killed by a stray bullet during the assassination of a mayor from Zamboanga del Sur outside a Manila airport last December 20, was laid to rest at Santuario de Bacolod Saturday morning.

Phille Thomas Estoesta, fondly called Tom-Tom by his family, died when a bullet hit his head. He came to Manila with his mother Marie Ann Lirazan, grandmother Amalia Lirazan and cousin Dhianne Philippe Uy for a vacation, but fate had other plans.

Before their trip to Manila, his family noticed that he was not his usual self. He was so playful that day, they said.

Marie Ann, Amalia and Dhianne were also wounded. They went home to Bacolod last December 31 with the body of Phille Thomas.

Bacolod City Lone District Representative Evelio Leonardia, who attended the burial rites with Councilor Caesar Distrito, said the members of the bereaved families were very emotional during the interment.

Leonardia said the boy’s father saw his son for the first time at his funeral.

On December 20, the Lirazans were coming out of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 when they were hit by stray bullets from the guns fired by motorcycle-riding assassins who killed Labangan Mayor Ukol Talumpa, his wife, Lea, and their nephew Salipudin Talumpa.

Marie Ann, her mother and her niece received treatment in Manila. She will undergo operation on her fractured left hand later this month.

Amalia, 58, was wounded on the back while Dhianne, 3, was also hit on the head.

Leonardia said the problem is not yet over as there are more things to be done especially on the continued medication of the Lirazans.

He added that what is more compelling is the fact that passengers in public airports are at risk.

“Since targets of the assassins can be found in the airports, such situation has become a magnet for trouble since innocent bystanders can be victimized too,” the legislator said.

“We have to solve the root cause. What is more upsetting is the fact that airport security personnel scampered away during the incident,” Leonardia added.

Marie Ann’s brother, Felipe Lirazan, who was supposed to fetch them, was the one who managed the traffic when he motored his injured family members to Villamor Air Base.

“It was just fortunate that there was a helicopter that airlifted the injured family to the hospital. The mother could have died for loss of blood because the traffic flow then was so heavy due to the Yuletide season," Leonardia said.

He said reforms are needed at the NAIA and other public airports to prevent incidents like this from happening again.