MANILA, Philippines – The chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, Director Oscar Albayalde, stood his ground Wednesday against the insistence of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that last Friday’s carnage at the Resorts World Hotel be classified as an act of terrorism.
The rampage by Jessie Carlos, a former government employee described as gambling-addicted, killed 37 persons who authorities said suffocated in the fires he set to gaming tables and slot machines. Carlos later killed himself.
Although authorities – including Malacanang – had early on written off the incident as an act of terror, Alvarez has insisted that it be classified as a “lone wolf” attack and called for the “highest level of security measures” to prevent a recurrence.
At the House inquiry into the Resorts World incident, Alvarez asked NCRPO Director Oscar Albayalde to “educate this committee on the universal definition of terrorism.”
“Well basically, Sir, the definition is an act … of violence that would create massive casualties and massive fear in the population,”Albayalde replied.
When pressed by Alvarez if his definition qualified the Resorts World incident as terrorism, the NCRPO chief, while acknowledging that the Resorts World incident had created fear, stressed that “the deaths (that) were caused during the incident … (were) incidental” to Carlos’ torching of the gaming tables and slot machines.
“It was not intentional on the part of the suspect to really kill those people,” Albayalde added.
Investigators earlier said at no time did Carlos fire at guests or hotel staff, except for a brief shootout with security personnel in which he was wounded.
Meanwhile, Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas took to task Resorts World security officials, led by Armeen Gomez, for what he called their “lack of security and laxer reaction,” citing closed circuit television footage that showed the lone and, according to hotel management, unarmed female guard running away when Carlos entered the casino.
Farinas rued that “there was no attempt to engage” the gunman even if he was being monitored on security cameras.
“Mas magaling pa iyong napapanood ko na nag–e-airsoft (I’ve seen better from air-soft players),” Farinas said.
But Gomez defended his personnel, pointing out that it was a Resorts World security officer who engaged Carlos in a shootout and wounded him, which apparently drove him upstairs to the fifth floor where he eventually committed suicide.