MANILA — The Resorts Worlds Manila (RWM) management went under scrutiny for alleged lapses in security and emergency protocols as the House of Representatives started its probe on the June 2 carnage that resulted in the deaths of 38 people, including the lone gunman.
During the congressional hearing at the Dignitaries’ Lounge of NAIA Terminal 3 on Wednesday, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas led the grilling of the RWM management for its “lax security (and) laxer reaction” during the incident.
Around 38 people, including suspect Jessie Carlos, were killed, while another 78 were wounded in the ensuing stampede and suffocation.
Fariñas said there were surveillance rooms to monitor Carlos’ activity, but the perpetrator was left freely moving around the facility.
“The one in the monitor room could follow wherever he (Carlos) goes but no pursuit was done,” said Fariñas.
Armeen Gomez, chief of the RWM safety, security and surveillance office, said the assailant, armed with an M-4 rifle, barged into the casino hotel after overpowering the security guard at the entrance.
Gomez mentioned that there were 100 external and 150 internal security personnel deployed all over the hotel at any given time. However, he admitted that it was beyond their capacity to confront someone with superior power.
Fariñas said with incredulity that Gomez perceived the gunman as a “superior power” when there were more than 200 security personnel.
The majority leader also questioned the capacity of the RWM security chief by digging up his background.
Gomez said he was a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) but was discharged due to academic problems.
After much prodding from other lawmakers, Gomez admitted that he did not graduate from college, contrary to his manifestation earlier.
For her part, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chairperson Andrea Domingo said the RWM management failed to comply with the security advisory issued by the state regulator.
The May 24 advisory urged PAGCOR licensees, including Resorts World, to be more vigilant and to implement stricter security measures in the wake of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The initial violation is that they did not listen to our security advisory which they are supposed to follow according to their provisional license,” Domingo said.
Domingo also pointed out that there was a lack of adequate and properly equipped security personnel at the entrance and parking lots of the Resorts World.
The PAGCOR chief, however, reiterated that the Resorts World incident was not an act of terrorism, considering that the profile of the perpetrator does not fit that of a terrorist, and that his actuations do not conform to terroristic activities.
“Although it is not terroristic in nature, it shows the vulnerability of our big institutions,” Domingo said.
Meanwhile, Resorts World Manila president Kingson Sian dispelled allegations over lapses in their security or emergency protocols.
Sian said the sprinklers switched on when Carlos set the gaming tables afire.
Sian said there were also sufficient fire exits, noting that there are a total of 13 fire exits on the second floor covering the mall area and the gaming area. In fact, nine of the 13 fire exits are within the gaming area.
The RWM evacuated approximately 12,100 guests and employees as fast as two minutes to a maximum of 27 minutes. PNA-northboundasia.com