THE negligence of the police during the Resorts World Manila tragedy is inexcusable because they could have saved at least 37 lives by just accessing Facebook live videos of the lone gunman on June 2.
House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte said the police could have searched Facebook for live videos of the June 2 incident wherein a lone gunman stormed the casino complex and set baccarat tables, slot machines, television screens and others on fire, producing a thick smoke that suffocated 37 guests and employees to death.
The gunman was identified as Jessie Carlos, a former government employee in heavy debt because of gambling.
Resorts World officials have testified in the congressional probe that the people who died in the incident were trapped inside the burning parts of the casino because they holed up in a pantry and a comfort room over the mistaken fear of being shot by multiple gunmen from extremist group Islamic State.
“I have a video here, a guy on Facebook Live. He was [taking]a video of the whole incident from the time it started. In the video, the people were making their way out of Resorts World were already saying that there is a lone gunman. The police arrived at 12:30 a.m. or almost 30 minutes after the gunman came. The whole world is already watching the incident [on Facebook Live]at that point,” Fariñas said.
“You could have saved the 37 who died, and the police could have easily found out that there is only one gunman earlier if only you coordinated your actions [with Resorts World management],” Fariñas added.
The congressional inquiry earlier revealed that the police found out that there was only one assailant around 3:30 a.m. when Resorts World finally told the police there is a functioning and backup closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring room in the nearby Remington Hotel.
Carlos’ charred remains were found later in Room 510 of Maxims Hotel, where the attacker was said to have taken his own life by setting himself on fire and shooting his mouth.
Private meeting ‘unethical’
Fariñas also slammed Resorts World security chief Armeen Gomez for seeking a private meeting ahead of the second day of the congressional probe on the tragedy on Wednesday.
He said an 8:30 a.m. meeting was requested by former Land Transportation and Franchising and Regulation
Board chairman Winston Ginez, Gomez’s lawyer, through a text message from Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting, House Games and Amusements panel chairman.
Tambunting is one of the House leaders spearheading the probe. The others are House public order and safety chairman Romeo Acop of Antipolo and House tourism panel chief Lucy Torres-Gomez of Leyte.
“My reply to such text message was ‘no.’ Lawyers can instead approach us during hearings, just like how lawyers approach the bench of court justices during a case hearing,” Fariñas said.
“The purpose of this (lawyers approaching the bench in public) is for the people to know the truth. “It is unethical to meet in private outside the hearing,” he added.
Fariñas also read portions of Ginez’s letter, which stated: “In behalf of my client Armeen Gomez we humbly request an advance audience with your honors.”
“Do not do that because it is not allowed. This should serve as a warning,” Fariñas stressed.
Lawmakers made mincemeat of Gomez in last week’s hearing, peppering the employee with credibility questions and forcing him to admit that he was a Philippine Military Academy dropout who did not have a college degree.
Gomez also admitted that Resorts World did not have a crisis plan for simultaneous emergencies such as what happened on June 2.
In addition, Fariñas moved to subpoena David Chua Ming Huat, the Malaysian chairman of Traveller’s Hotel Group, Inc. that owns Resorts World.
Resorts World President Kingston Sian reported to lawmakers that Chua left the country before Congress sent its letter of invitation to the inquiry.
“Under the law, they are the ones liable for the acts of the corporation, not the stockholders. A corporation has a personality separate and distinct from its stockholders,” Fariñas said.
“If he will not appear, what comes after that is a warrant of arrest,” he added.
Chua, president of cruise firm Genting Hong Kong, is said to own 30 percent of Resorts World Manila.