Metro Manila Police Director Oscar Albayalde on Monday said police are now ready to file criminal charges against Resorts World management and its security agency for the death of 13 employees and 24 guests during a rampage of an armed man who ran amuck on June 2 at the casino and entertainment complex.
“The Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies will finalize and submit today or tomorrow their findings, which means they are ready to file charges of negligence resulting in multiple homicides,” Albayalde told a forum in Manila.
He added that only three of the relatives of the victims have signified their willingness to file the criminal charges but he clarified that the police can file the case as a nominal complainant.
Albayalde described the case as strong because Resorts World security forces had admitted to investigators that they abandoned a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera of the casino and entertainment complex the whole time that Jessie Carlos was wreaking havoc on the property before shooting himself dead.
The 37 victims died from suffocation after Carlos torched the tables and carpet of the VIP room located on the second floor of the casino area.
“Security lapse could be blamed for everything probably. [A] security person admitted that he left the CCTV [camera room]immediately. He could have seen people on the second floor at the VIP room and they could have been saved [if he did not leave the room]. All the 37 died because of suffocation,” Albayalde said.
“When the police and firemen arrived, they said they were able to evacuate the 12,000 people present at the time in the casino without knowing that all the 37 people were trapped inside the VIP room,” he added.
Another major lapse, according to Albayalde, was that Resorts World security personnel could see the suspect through the CCTV camera but could not pinpoint where he was.
The security people informed the police only when Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald de la Rosa arrived at 3 a.m. that they had another CCTV camera room at Remington Hotel nearby.
Albayalde said respondents to the complaint are Travellers International Hotel Group Ins., operator of Resorts World Manila located across Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and N.C. Lanting Security Specialist.
Resorts World has given P1 million each to families of the 37 victims, including paying for the hospitalization or treatment of some 67 injured individuals.
Meanwhile, Public Attorney’s Office head Persida Acosta, in a radio interview also on Monday over dzMM, said a class suit is being prepared against the management of Resorts World.
“We have prepared the computation of damages, using the American life expectancy computation. But the offer was so small, not even one-half of our computation. According to ACCRA [Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices] lawyers, they are telling Resorts World to settle,” Acosta disclosed.
She said her lawyers are also waiting for reports of the PNP and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) that they will use in filing the civil case.
Albayalde, when sought for comment on the reopening of Resorts World as ordered by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) last week, said he could understand the reasons both from the government and the business side.
“Maybe they considered the 12,000 employees and the income of the government through tax,” he added.
Also on Monday, Resorts World was urged to secure a fire safety certificate from the BFP.
Rep. Rufino Biazon of Muntinlupa City made the call five days after Pagcor lifted the suspension of the casino and entertainment complex over the June 2 incident.
The BFP issues a fire safety certificate if “the building premises comply with the fire safety requirements and fire protective and/or warning systems such as fire sprinkler systems, automatic extinguishing systems and if fire alarms are properly installed.”
Pagcor restored Resorts World’s license to operate after it doubled the number of armed guards and metal detectors; reviewed safety and security protocols for various emergency scenarios; and obtained Fire and Safety Inspection Certificates (FSICs) for building and structural integrity from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which oversees Resorts World.
During an earlier congressional probe of the incident, Resorts World management admitted that the casino and entertainment complex was not inspected by the BFP because it is under PEZA jurisdiction.
PEZA also admitted during the congressional inquiry that casinos are not covered by its supposed authority to issue FSICs under the PEZA law.
As such, RWM did not have FSICs at the time of Carlos’ attack.
Biazon said there should be no confusion about the agencies’ respective authorities because the Fire Code mandates the BFP to issue FSICs.
“Why would Pagcor allow casinos under PEZA to operate when they don’t have FSICs to begin with? PEZA is overextending its authority by saying that they have the authority to issue the FSICs when such is not provided by law,” he pointed out.
“Really, we don’t need a new law here. We already have the Fire Code. PEZA is insisting that the Fire Code does not cover them and that argument is against the law,” Biazon said.
LLANESCA T. PANTI