THERE may have been many who do not agree with the police conclusion that the horrific Resorts World Hotel incident was not a terrorist act but a rather a criminal case of armed robbery and arson.
Count Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as one of those who disagree with that conclusion.
“At this point, I disagree with the conclusion reached by law enforcement authorities that the Resorts World incident was not a terrorist act but rather a criminal case of armed robbery and arson,” said Speaker Alvarez in a statement.
“This is a clear example of a “lone wolf” terrorist attack targeting civilians to inflict maximum loss of life and damage to property, as what has happened in other countries,” stressed Alvarez.
A total of 38, including the gunman himself, perished in the the Resorts World Manila near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport when the suspect broke in and set the casino room afire in what could go down as one of the most horrifying attacks in living memory.
While the attacker did not fire his gun on the victims, most of them died of suffocation caused by the toxic smoke that engulfed the whole casino room and nearby rooms in the second floor of the Resorts building.
The attack also left 67 injured.
The police theorized it was a simple case of robbery and arson, something which did not sit well on Speaker Alvarez.
“Our authorities should get their act together and put in place the highest level of security measures to prevent this to happen again, here or elsewhere in the country,” said Alvarez.
He added: ‘This incident should be a wake-up call for the police and the military to cooperate closely in making the seat of government and our financial and business center safe from any terrorist attack, whether by “lone wolves” or heavily armed terrorist contingents, as what happened in Marawi City.’
Manila, being the seat of the Philippine government as well as businesses, should be well secured, so much so that the city is also one of the thickly populated in the country.
“We must draw up a clear and better plan to secure Metro Manila and other urban centers from IS-linked groups that we already know will attempt to kill and maim in pursuit of their jihadist ideology,” said alvarez.
To attain maximum security, Alvarez said that business establishments should also do their share and exhaust all means to ensure the safety of people in places of convergence.
“They must ensure CCTVs and similar security monitoring equipment are adequate in number and all in working condition, and security personnel are properly trained to spot and deal with suspicious individuals with possible criminal intent,” he said, while urging the citizenry to actively help the government fight terrorism in all its forms by providing information to authorities on suspicious or unusual activities in their communities.
Meanwhile, the Speaker expressed his deep sympathy and condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who perished in the violence, including Mrs. Elizabeth Panlilio Gonzales, wife of Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales.
“On behalf of the House of Representatives, let me extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who perished in the violence and arson perpetrated by the lone gunman at Resorts World on Friday morning,” the Spaker said.
“We commiserate with our colleague and offer prayers on the family’s bereavement,” he said. “We express our profound sorrow that innocent people, including Mrs. Gonzales, lost their lives in this unspeakable tragedy. But we should not let this instill fear among the citizenry.”