The chief of an office of the Philippine National Police (PNP) that oversees security agencies on Tuesday said there will not be a repeat of the Resorts World Manila incident that killed 37 people last Friday.
The assurance from Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino, head of the Supervisory Office for Security Investigation Agencies (Sosia), came after the PNP held a conference among different security agencies.
“Definitely, [we are confident because]we reminded the security managers of standard procedures on protocol security and we showed to them what they lack,” Espino told a news briefing after the meeting.
Espino earlier announced that an investigation of security lapses by Resorts World Manila will be conducted after the incident where a lone gunman fired away and burned down a part of the resort.
He announced that drills have been initiated by the security agencies to brace for attacks from criminal gangs that often prey on malls in Metro Manila.
Espino said they will check whether security agencies of establishments in the services sector like Resorts World Manila have security plans.
Before, he added, these security agencies were not required to submit any security plan.
Police Director Camilo Cascolan, chief of the PNP Directorate for Operations, said it is necessary for any security agency to have its own emergency response team.
“[Security guards] cannot immediately respond to any team so [the emergency response team]should be the first responders to any incident,” Cascolan told reporters.
An investigation by Sosia of supposed lapses committed by Resorts World Manila will determine “how much fines and penalties… will be meted [on]the private security agency and the security guards [of Resorts World Manila],” he said.
The House of Representatives is set to conduct its own inquiry into the incident.
The congressional probe will focus on the supposedly poor security at the hotel and casino establishment, a lawmaker said also on Tuesday.
Rep. Gus Tambunting of Parañaque City, chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusements, noted that there are many questions left hanging even if the PNP already declared the incident a closed case after they identified the gunman, Jessie Carlos.
Carlos, a former employee of the Finance department who had a gambling problem, razed casino tables and fired at LED screens, resulting in a fire that suffocated the victims, both employees and guests, eventually causing their death.
He eventually committed suicide by burning himself.
“We would like to focus on the security of Resorts World. This gruesome tragedy would not have happened if not for security breach. Was it an inside job? Did he get help from employees that is why he is so familiar with the premises?” Tambunting told reporters.
The investigation will be conducted at the Diplomatic Lounge of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
“Could it be a terrorist attack? Is it a case of lone wolf or an isolated incident of robbery? And why were the sprinklers not working? Resorts World had all the resources and this incident still happened. Can you imagine the case for those who are less equipped?” Tambunting said.
He said the probe will still be valuable and necessary even if authorities are also in the middle of investigating the incident.
“We are still working on a possible [inspection], and we can’t hold our hearings in nearby hotels because they are competitors of Resorts World Manila. We want to have an independent hearing,” Tambunting added.
He said he would not recommend banning Filipino players from casinos.
“It would be too difficult to ban Filipino players altogether because where would these players go? Resort to illegal gambling? Leave the country? We can’t just ban them because the government wants to do away with illegal gambling,” Tambunting added.
“We want to improve existing guidelines in banning certain people. This will form part of our investigation,” he said.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte will also be present at the congressional probe.
with LLANESCA T. PANTI