MANILA, Philippines — Although security officials have written off terrorism for Friday’s deadly rampage at the Resorts World Hotel, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Saturday dubbed the incident a “lone wolf” attack and called on authorities to “get their act together.”
The Speaker’s assessment of the Resort World incident, which claimed 38 people’s lives including that of the perpetrator who, armed with an assault rifle and pistol, barged into the hotel and casino complex firing shots and then setting fire to gaming tables before he took his life in the fifth floor, was in total opposition to that of police and military officials — and even of Malacanang.
READ RELATED ARTICLE: No ISIS or terrorist hand in Resorts World tragedy, NCR remains safe – AFP, Palace
Security officials noted that the gunman did not shoot at anyone except himself. All the other fatalities died of smoke inhalation.
But Alvarez, in a statement, said: “I disagree with the conclusion reached by law enforcement authorities that the Resorts World incident was not a terrorist act but rather a criminal case of armed robbery and arson.”
“This is a clear example of a ‘lone wolf’ terrorist attack targeting civilians to inflict maximum loss of life and damage to property, as what has happened in other countries,” Alvarez said. “Our authorities should get their act together and put in place the highest level of security measures to prevent this to happen again, here or elsewhere in the country.”
“We must draw up a clear and better plan to secure Metro Manila and other urban centers from IS-linked groups that we already know will attempt to kill and maim in pursuit of their jihadist ideology,” he added.
But Alvarez did not suggest that martial law, which President Rodrigo Duterte declared over Mindanao after clashes broke out in Marawi City between government forces and the Maute group, be extended over other parts of the country in the wake of the Resorts World carnage.
Duterte, has hinted he may expand martial law’s coverage to the whole country if he feels the threat of terrorism has spread to the Visayas and Luzon.
Nevertheless Alvarez said the Resorts World incident “should be a wake-up call for the police and the military to cooperate closely in making the seat of government and our financial and business center safe from any terrorist attack, whether by ‘lone wolves’ or heavily armed terrorist contingents, as what happened in Marawi City.”
He said “a clear and better plan to secure Metro Manila and other urban centers from IS-linked groups that we already know will attempt to kill and maim in pursuit of their jihadist ideology” must be drawn up, not just by governments, but also business establishments who “should … do their share and exhaust all means to ensure the safety of people in places of convergence.”
“We also urge the citizenry to actively help the government fight terrorism in all its forms by providing information to authorities on suspicious or unusual activities in their communities,” the Speaker said.
At the same time, while expressing “profound sorrow” over the loss of lives, including that of the wife of Pampanga Representative Aurelio Gonzales, Elizabeth, Alvarez said “we should not let this instill fear among the citizenry.”
Meanwhile, Makati Representative Luis Jose Angel Campos Jr., who is also deputy minority leader, called the death toll from the Resorts World mayhem “unacceptable” as he called on “all establishments to constantly review and upgrade their security plans and emergency preparedness, especially their procedures in safely evacuating patrons and staff to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.”
He said “high-security establishments such as integrated gaming resorts are supposed to have people who are adequately prepared to respond to emergencies, and who are expected to help lead and guide
guests out to safety.”
Campos also said establishments should heed Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa’s advice to seek help from security forces instead of trying to contain emergencies by themselves.