On the Resorts World Manila incident: Questions, questions… no answer makes sense

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MAURO GIA SAMONTE

As of this writing, a one-gunman attack on Resorts World Manila in Pasay City is ongoing, and one can see on television what surely must be a disproportionate reaction from the police.

For one thing, if it were just a one-man attack, why should a tank respond? Tanks are certainly for heavy war. Philippine National Police Director General Ronald de la Rosa told a television anchorman that the tank was a standard part of police response to such a situation. Take Bato’s word for it, though it’s open to conjectures. It just might be that the report reaching police headquarters immediately created an impression of some massive attack so that such a heavy response was needed.

The size of the troopers itself indicates police has understood the situation as something really big. At first glance, it seemed that the responding police troops were up against militants, just like in Marawi City.

Then there is thick smoke rising from a floor of the hotel building. In normal circumstances, that should have prompted fire trucks, sirens blaring, to rush to the scene. But it must have been an hour since the smoke began and no fire truck is yet in sight.


Yes, hotel occupants were injured, and this should have prompted the police to crash into the hotel and come to the rescue of its occupants, but no, the police has seen fit to stay safe outside – and that’s for their awesome number compared to just one of the enemy.

That, no doubt, defies logic. What gives, Bato?

I see the television coverage of the incident as soon as I step into a carinderia for my usual breakfast. With national attention having been glued on the Marawi takeover by the Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group, my immediate impression is that the Resorts World is a scenario of that Marawi crisis.

One carinderia customer viewing the commotion on television remarks that the hotel assailant can be an ISIS operative – to which I tend to agree. I have this strong sense that the Marawi crisis is a deliberate design to spark chaos and unrest by which to extend to the Philippines the US-Soviet proxy war now obtaining as the Syrian Civil War.

Witness how readily the Marawi crisis gave President Rodrigo Duterte justification to declare martial law all over Mindanao. Certainly because of constitutional restraints, the presidential declaration will hold for only a period of 60 days after which it will be up to Congress whether to invalidate it or let it continue. The country’s legislators appear inclined to allow martial law to go beyond its constitutional limit.

At the moment, I won’t go as far as determine how the Marawi crisis relates to the Resorts World attack. I would rather just confine myself to getting eyewitness accounts of the event, then make conclusions later.

Here is one such account, which I liberally lifted from the Facebook page of Luchie Aclan Arguelles, a colleague journalist and personal friend, who witnessed the incident. Luchie recounts:

“This act of the still unidentified non-Filipino (Caucasian) gunner and arsonist was not an immolation. No indication that it was a terrorist’s sacrificial feat. He knew he’ll be targeted in no time, anyway, and had nowhere to go.

“I can claim I was right in presuming that this tall and burly man garbed in all black was “a desperate, losing player” when I personally witnessed how he doused with combustible fluid and burned a gaming table at the RW’s second floor. He must have been fuming mad to vent his ire on the gaming table.

“(A video allegedly posted showed there was another companion.) As I saw him, he was alone, so casual and not aggressive at all, not characteristic of a terrorist. Yes, he triggered bullets but not directly at people. He fired at TV monitors at the Prosperity Court area and stashed around P130-million worth of casino chips from the cage.

“Fast forward, he holed in and laid flat on a bed at Maxims Room 510. It must be deliberate burning himself beyond recognition.

“The chips were recovered intact.

“Those hurt were from stampede or in a scramble to get out or away of the vicinity as fast as they could.

“Sometime soon, RW will have to show the chronology of CCTV screen shots.

As a postscript, there were several times when my son-in-law, an AFP-PNP K-9 trainor, commented that there is a breach of security in the casino and adjunct hotels. ‘These handlers and dogs will fail my test, for sure.’

“On a personal note, I commend and thank RW security men and casino officials for looking after us at the basement employees’ haul.”

Luchie attests that the gunman was alone.

“My eyewitness account? I didn’t see any other with him as he entered the table gaming area & when he burned a table,” Luchie says.

Still from Facebook, Friend Jun Alcover makes this post:

Pwede ba to Bato??? Try mo daw….!

This information by journalist Arthur Tariman surely offers credible clues on the dead gunman allegedly burning himself. Arthur states:

“ As chief reporter of DYLA-BPTC News, I witnessed and covered live the first and only case of self-immolation on record in the Philippines when Maneja burned himself at Plaza Independencia in Cebu City sometime in 1984.

“Tanghaling tapat ng sinindihan niya ang sarili sa tulong ng kanyang brother-in-law dahil sa hamonan ng panampalataya kung saan siya at ang kanyang mga tagasunod ay naniwalang mabubuhay siya sa pangatlong araw.

“Tumagal halos isang oras na umaapoy ang katawan ni Maneja bago siya tuloyang namatay. Nagcoconvulse ang kanyang katawan habang kinakain ng apoy at hindi ganong peaceful na nakayakap ng baril.

“Remember dead man tells no tale.”

Also very interesting is this observation by another Facebook friend Elgin Castillo Lazaro III:

“The lone gunman used M4 RIFLE during his assault in Resorts World.

Military at Police lang ang puwedeng magkaroon at magdala ng ganitong uri ng armas.

Sa isang sibilyan na mayroon nito ay kinakailangang may internal connection siya sa military o authorized police personnel. Paano nagkaroon ang gunman (na sinasabing “high roller player” lang sa casino) ng ganitong uri ng armas kung walang koneksyon sa ating awtoridad? Paano siya makapag-acquire ng M4 Rifle gayung dayuhan lang siya dito sa Pilipinas?

Maraming tanong, espekulasyon na kailangang sagutin ng ating awtoridad tungkol sa bagay na ito.

“The government should trace the serial number of recovered assault M4 RIFLE use by a lone gunman who shot and burned himself inside the room of the Maxims Hotel.”

At any rate, one needs a period of detachment from the frenzy of social event to be able to place himself on a plane from which to view the event in the correct perspective. For the nonce, there are just questions on the Resorts World affair, no answers.

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