The chief of security of Resorts World Manila (RWM)–a hotel, casino and mall establishment attacked by a gunman that resulted in 37 deaths last week–on Wednesday was forced to admit that he has no college degree.
Armeen Gomez, RWM chief of security, made the admission during a congressional probe of the tragic incident wherein a lone gunman, Jessie Carlos, set casino tables on fire and shot LED screens, resulting in a fire that suffocated the 37 employees and guests.
During questioning by Rep. Romeo Acop of Antipolo City, Gomez retracted his prior claims, among them that he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management degree.
Lawmakers took turns in probing the RWM official’s competence, considering that videos on the incident showed that Carlos refused to pass by a metal detector and easily overpowered a female guard at an entrance by an elevator.
The elevator video also showed the attacker wearing a bonnet and a mask, gearing up for an assault with a gun and gasoline at hand.
When Carlos entered RWM, there were 250 security personnel on duty but the entrance where he entered only had the lone unarmed female guard.
“I am not a [holder of any bachelor’s degree],” Gomez told the lawmakers.
He initially said he entered the Philippine Military Academy in 1995, was discharged in 1998 because he was turned back (failed in one subject) and returned to the PMA in 2000.
Gomez told Acop that he left the PMA in 1997, or a year after entering it.
He then said he was barred from the PMA in 1998 and went to Ateneo de Naga and earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management degree there, an answer that he also gave House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte.
“To the Resorts World management, you are now seeing the character of your chief of security whom lives of Filipinos and visitors depend on. This is the kind of security officer that came from your vetting process. How can he be hired in such a position? You are making all of Filipinos nervous!” Fariñas said.
Gomez said he had a hard time finding a living for himself because he was an orphan.
Acop said government records show that Gomez became an employee of PhilHealth in May 2000.
Gomez then said, “I have my personal reasons, your honor. I will be wiling to be subjected to another investigation.”
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte said it was ridiculous that Gomez cannot even remember where he earned his supposed college degree.
“Where did you get your degree? In Ateneo de Recto?” Alvarez added, referring to a street in Manila notorious for manufacturing fake college diplomas.
Rep. Lucy Gomez of Leyte, chairman of the House Committee on Tourism, also questioned the judgment of the Gomez-led security team in containing a lone gunman.
“It seems that there has been lack of sense of urgency on the part of Resorts World. Parts of the building were already on fire. The gunman is wearing a mask in the elevator and is armed. There are CCTV cameras all over the place. Somebody should have seen what was happening before the gunman proceeded to attack,” she said.