Police investigate the car after the shooting in Olongapo City. Photos courtesy of Olongapo City police
Police investigate the car after the shooting in Olongapo City. Photos courtesy of Olongapo City police

Tot caught up in shooting murder was on mum’s lap

The wife of an Australian businessman in The Philippines who was shot by another occupant of the car she was in was carrying her 18-month-old daughter on her lap at the time, a family friend has revealed.

Forty-one-year-old Mila Bailey was in the car with her infant daughter, her husband Wayne (formerly from Queensland) and their friend Tony Wilson, of Hobart, when they were allegedly shot by another Australian man, Michael Justin McLaren, on Friday October 18.

Olongapo police arrested 52-year-old McLaren in a nearby hotel, three hours after the shocking incident, which took place in Olongapo City, northwest of Manila. Police suspect that a dispute over the sale of a property was behind the shooting.

Wayne and Mila Bailey with two of their children. Mila — also known as Ella — was killed in the shooting incident, while Wayne and the couple’s 18-month-old daughter survived.
Wayne and Mila Bailey with two of their children. Mila — also known as Ella — was killed in the shooting incident, while Wayne and the couple’s 18-month-old daughter survived.

Mr Wilson, 61, was fatally shot as he was sitting in the front passenger seat.

Mr Bailey, 71, who had been in the driver's seat, was shot in the chest but survived.

Matt Ross, a family friend of the Baileys, told News Corp he understood Mr McLaren had been in the back seat of the car, across from Mila and her daughter.

The young girl, who was not injured despite her immediate proximity to the shooting, is currently in the care of Mila's sister, along with the couple's three other young children, Mr Ross said.

The car in which the shooting took place was parked outside a hardware store at the time. CCTV footage reportedly showed both the suspected shooter exiting the vehicle, and Mr Bailey collapsing nearby after he lurched from the car.

 

The vehicle in which the shooting allegedly took place. Picture: Olongapo Public Information Office via AP
The vehicle in which the shooting allegedly took place. Picture: Olongapo Public Information Office via AP

 

Benjamin Sembrano from the Olongapo's police department told AP that Mr McLaren had been identified by a bag he had been carrying.

"The reason we're saying that we possibly identified the suspect is that he's the only one who ran away carrying a bag, a laptop bag in violet colour. We believe (it is him) because we have recovered that particular violet bag," Mr Sembrano was quoted as saying.

Other reports stated Mr McLaren had been charged with two counts of murder and one count of frustrated murder.

The shooting victims all had business interests in the area. Wayne and Mila (also known as Ella) Bailey owned the Gum Leaves Beach Resort, while Mr Wilson was the owner of the Crazy Horse Bar in neighbouring Subic.

An employee from the Gum Leaves Beach Resort confirmed to News Corp that Mr Bailey was still in recovery in hospital. The employee did not know how long he would be there for.

Mr Ross said he did not know if Mr Wilson had any business dealings with the Baileys, but he thought not. Two of Mr Wilson's five adult children told The Mercury this week that they believed their father had simply been "in the wrong place at the wrong time".

 

Retired abalone diver and publican Anthony George Wilson, 61 (right), pictured with his brother Greg. Picture: Supplied
Retired abalone diver and publican Anthony George Wilson, 61 (right), pictured with his brother Greg. Picture: Supplied

 

Although Mr Wilson travelled frequently overseas, he had only been in The Philippines for less than a week before the shooting.

Mr Wilson's son Shane posted a heartbreaking tribute to his father on Facebook on Wednesday.

"A fortnight ago I gave a hug and told the greatest bloke in the world and told him I loved him and I'll see him again soon. Unfortunately I won't but I'll always remember him. He's made me the person I am today," he wrote.

Another social media tribute came from Mr Wilson's friend Aaron Hues, who described him as "the most honest, transparent and caring person in Subic".

Staff from the Crazy Horse Bar also expressed their condolences, saying "[We] miss you daily Tony. You were loved and deeply appreciated. You became like family to us here. Your laugh and wisdom will live on."

For Australian travellers, the shooting has raised concern about rates of gun crime and personal safety in The Philippines.

 

 

According to the University of Sydney's GunPolicy.org website, there were 7309 gun deaths in The Philippines in 2011 (the last year for which there is data) compared to 190 in Australia that same year.

The site states that the total number of guns in the country (legal and illegal) could be just a bit under four million, but site researcher Lt Colonel Mark Picard, who is currently in the country, said he now believed that was "a very conservative estimate" and there could be as many as 10 million guns in total in the country, of which only about two million were licensed. The country has a population of 104 million.

"The Philippines has a big gun culture. A lot of people see (having a gun) as the best way to protect themselves," Lt Col Picard said.

He described The Philippines as having "the most thoroughly armed civilian population" in South East Asia, and it was not uncommon to see security guards in stores with shotguns on their laps.

 

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Lt Col Picard said "only passport holding citizens can legally get a gun" in The Philippines, but the country also had a thriving black market in firearms. A standard Glock pistol could be obtained for as little as 5000-6000 pesos ($A142-$A171), he said, while a homemade firearm could go for as little as 1000 pesos ($A28).

According to research from the peace organisation International Alert, 99 per cent of guns used in crimes in The Philippines are obtained illegally.

Guns have been used by both Filipino police and vigilantes against suspected drug dealers since the coming to power of strongman president Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. Last year it was reported that Duterte was considering a proposal to provide 42,000 community leaders, known as barangay captains, with free firearms to help fight crime.

Human rights groups believe as many as 12,000 people have been shot dead in the country's highly-criticised war on suspected drug dealers.

But Lt Col Picard said Duterte's campaign had also enjoyed considerable levels of support among Filipinos.

"The sentiment I keep on hearing, since he's come to power, it's had a positive effect on gun crime," he said. "Criminals are a lot more afraid to test the law. The streets are a lot safer than they were before."



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