Part 2 of the transcript of proceedings of the House investigation on Resorts World Manila incident (June 21, 2017)

0
88
The Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel, led by chief Ronald Dela Rosa (C), during the height of the Resorts World Hotel incident on June 2, 2017 following an assault. A gunman was on the loose at a casino complex in the Philippine capital on June 2, 2017 after firing an assault rifle in a gambling room, but nobody has been reported shot or taken hostage, the national police chief said. People ran screaming out of Resorts World Manila, which is across a road from one of the main terminals of the Philippines' international airport, after the man fired what police chief Ronald dela Rosa said was an M4 assault. AFP file photo

GUEST:… ng Bureau of Fire Protection personnel, then sinagot nga din po ng PEZA, nag-serve po sila ng opinion sa Department of Justice para malaman po talaga kung sino talaga ang may jurisdiction dito. The DOJ gave an opinion na ang PEZA Zones ay hindi under BFP.

Congressman: Well, anyway, in view of the new opinion rendered now by the new Secretary of Justice, will you sign this MOA? By the way, you are retiring next month you honor, right?

GUEST: In two week’s time.

Congressman: In two week’s time, you are retiring, so you’re not going to sign this MOA anymore or any of your successor to sign this MOA anymore, because of the ruling of the Secretary of the DOJ Aguirre.

GUEST: Yes sir.

Congressman: My final question is this: do you have now the final report on what transpired at the Resorts World.

GUEST: Sir, our investigators are still conducting the ….involving some investigation, because the fire incident is referred to the national headquarters for its final disposition.

Congressman: The fire took place or the incident took place way back June 2, and it is already June 21, and still you don’t have the final report? Ganoon ba talaga katagal ang imbestigasyon ng BFP sa ganitong klaseng insidente?

GUEST: Sir, kasi po we are conducting an exhaustive investigation. Sunog-na-sunog yung… and we have to come up with a, sabihin na po natin na acceptable, maayos na findings sa sunog na ito para masigurado po natin na wala pong magiging problema.

Congressman: Because I am going to ask you, what is the liability now of the Resorts World as far as the incident is concerned. Sabihin nyo na may liabilities ba sila ngayon? Nandyan ba yung smoke extractors, efficient ba yung excavator? Yung sprinkler ba talagang nag-deploy? So meron na kayong initial findings. Huwag nyo namang pag-alalahanin yung tao; nabibitin sila eh. Pati yung construction doon, tama ba yun dahil hindi nyo na-inspect yan? Eh kesa nag-inspect, tinanong ko dati iyan, sabi nyo, hindi nyo alam kasi sabi nyo hindi nyo na-inspect. Ngayon, na-conduct nyo na yung imbestigasyon, dapat makita nyo na nga iyon na lahat ng inamin sa akin ng Resorts World na mga equipment na present doon ay mako-confirm nyo na kung nandoon talaga. Smoke excavator, sprinkler na na-deploy at iba pa. That will be final, your honor, Mr. chairman.

Cong. Tambunting: The honorable Ana Cristina-Go is recognized.

Congressman: Mr Chair, will you please wait for the answer of General Baruelo.

GUEST: Ah Sir, iyon na nga po ang ginagawa natin, nasagot iyong mga tanong nyo upang maibigay natin sa publiko. Ano po ba talaga ang tunay na kalagayan ng mga nakalagay doon na fire safety and protection features ng building. So chine-check po natin kung talagang gumana itong mga gamit na ito. Kung ito ay naibigay yung talagang dapat na magawa at makapagbigay po tayo ng mga rekomendasyon kung may mga pagkukulang, kung ano po ang mga dapat na gawin sa mga susunod.

Cong. Tambunting: Cong. Eugene De Vera, so in short, wala pa ho syang kasagutan. The honorable Ana Cristina-Go.

Cong. Go: Good afternoon, thank you, Mr. chair, good afternoon to everyone. Mr. Chair, I would like to withdraw and I would like to give my time to Congresswoman Bagatsing, anyway, my question has been asked by Congresswoman Sandy Ocampo.

Cong. Tambunting: The honorable Bagatsing is recognized.

REP. BAGATSING – Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would like to address the question to our Chief PNP, kay Chief Albayalde–sorry, na-promote na–NCRPO. How can we assure our foreigners that coming to the Philippines is safe, and why should they still come here, especially to Metro Manila?

GEN. ALBAYALDE – Yes, your honor, I think the Philippines, particularly Metro Manila, is very, very safe, as of this time. With regards to the… all the information coming in, or the information coming out from the social media, these information are all unvalidated and all unconfirmed. So, wala pong confirmation itong mga nakukuha nating intelligence information na ito, or raw information actually. They are not even intelligence information. So, we want to assure this Committee that the Philippines, particularly Metro Manila po, is very very safe as of this time.

REP. BAGATSING – Okay, salamat po. I also would just like to express that as we go about this proceedings, these hearings, we noticed and we know that, yes, there is a remiss on Resorts World’s part. But it could have happened to any casino, mall, pasyalan or any tourists spot or establishment. And that it is very difficult and it is a very tragic event that it happened. But I hope that we learned from this, especially when it comes to coordination with the PNP and the Bureau of Fire and the security of the establishments. Kasi po, based on sa ating mga proceedings, nakita po natin na sabog-sabog ho ang coordination. The fear of my constituents, and probably also the people of the Philippines, is the fact the wala po tayong ‘oneness’,  when it comes to different government agencies. And I hope that we can take this into consideration and really do our due diligence in practicing all kinds of situations. Echoing what Tita Sandy said, madami hong gaya-gaya, uso na ho talaga ang gaya-gaya. So, sana mas maging prepared pa po tayo. Yun lang po, maraming salamat.

CHAIRMAN – Thank you very much. Again congratulations, because you even did it even before the one-minute timer sounded.

VOICE(CONGRESSMAN) – Mr. Chair, can I have the left-over?

CHAIRMAN – Yes, there is no carry-over here. The next interpellator is the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, the Honorable Dax Cua.

REP. CUA – Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I’ll go very quickly. To the BFP, General, are you confident and do you believe that you are properly equipped and prepared to handle the situation like this?

GEN. BARUELO – We really have the personnel to handle this. But as of now, what I can say is that we really lack the necessary equipment.

REP. CUA –  Haveyou requested that in the next year’s budget?

GEN. BARUELO – Yes sir, we have already requested everything that we need in the next budget, but hopefully, it would be approved.

REP. CUA – Is it within your Bureau’s ceiling or above?

GEN. BARUELO – Above sir.

REP. CUA – So why did you put it above if it’s a priority need?

GEN. BARUELO – Sir, we placed everything that we need in our request for budget for the next year .

REP. CUA – How much increase in your ceiling? Do you need for it to be accommodated within the ceiling?

GEN. BARUELO – I have no idea, sir.

REP. CUA – Please write to this Committee, Mr. Chairman, the needs for equipment so that we can probably support during the next budget hearing.

GEN. BARUELO – Thank you sir.

REP. CUA – Mr. Chair, to the PNP, to Gen. Apolinario, do you have the manual for crisis situations, is that correct?

GEN. APOLINARIO(?) – Yes, your Honor.

REP. CUA – In that manual, is it really stated that civilian assistance is part of the process?

GEN. APOLINARIO – Yes, your Honor. Based on the critical incident management, the task group organizational _______ crisis management committee.

REP. CUA – And how do we prepare civilians for such an event, to put them in harm’s way?

GEN. APOLINARIO – Actually, some of members of the committees are government officials and the NGOs. So, one way of preparing for an eventuality, we conduct civilian exercise.

REP. CUA – I understand. For this situation, you used civilian employees of the company to guide our police officers around the vicinity. Is that correct? Did you arm them or put bulletproof on them, or ano ang nangyari?

GEN. APOLINARIO – Attorney… your Honor, they are security employees of the Resorts World….

Q:  Were they armed?

A:  Yes, your honor, they were armed.

Q:  So, they were armed. Pero is it really, is that parang first priority, second priority, or kung pwede, walang civilian, is that…? Ano ba’ng protocol nyo ba dyan?

A:   Your honor, we have some procedures, like, if you utilize them, even in our operations, we use either maps or guides, and the latest is the CCTVs, it would be better and faster to address the situation by them acting as guides. But we made sure that we conducted briefing before they go, went with our SWAT teams. To ensure that they would be safe, like they should be at the back of the team. So we conducted briefing on what to do in case of any eventuality.

Q:  Sige, Sir, I will not be hard so much on that, but sana lang ma-minimize nyo yung involvement of any civilians as much as possible. And then yung protocol between the BFP and the PNP, are you already working on such a protocol in such situations?

A:  Yes, your honor, we have. All city police stations have direct coordinations with respective Bureau of Fire departments.

Q:  Thank you, Sir. Sir, to General Trampe, about the Crime Lab, where can we. . . is the. . . can we still validate the identity of the gunman, Mr. Jessie Carlos, at this day?

A:   Yes, (inaudible).

Q:  Pwede pang i-validate yang DNA na yan today? Or I mean, in the coming near future?

A:   Actually, it’s already validated by the comparison with parents’ DNA, along standards and sample.

Q:   Ano bang proseso nyo po? Do you gather fingerprints, if it’s intelligible? Were you able to do that aside from the DNA? Did you get dental records or any other means of identification?

A:  May I request our doctor from Southern Police District Crime Lab to answer the question.

Q:  In short po, how can you convince me that that was really him?

A:  I’m sorry lumabas po si Supt. Nulet. Pero we took DNA samples and dental, I think, and we compared it to the parents of Mr. Carlos.

Q:  Where is, saan na po yung bangkay ngayon?

A:  Sir, the body of. . .

Q:  Excuse me, Sir, please identify yourself.

A:  I am Police Supt. Voltaire Nulet, Sir. The body of the suspect, Sir, was cremated already, Sir, by the relatives, Sir.

Q:  Mr. Chairman, is that proper that the body of the assailant was cremated given the fact that the investigation is still not yet over? Are there cases pending against this person? Why was it allowed to be committed, Mr. Chairman?

C: Please reply. What is the procedure?

A:  Sir, the investigation is asking the investigator on case and upon completion of all the necessary laboratory examinations, Sir, it is allowed to be cremated, Sir. Especially the family was requesting for the disposal of the body, Sir. Kumpleto na po lahat nung. . .

Q:   A, so even if there’s a case, Sir, pwede po yun ma-cremate kahit hindi pa tapos ang imbestigasyon?

A:   The laboratory examination are all done na po.

Q:   Like I said kanina, was there fingerprinting done, dental records, dental validation done, aside from the DNA that you mentioned?

GUEST: … on the case of the suspect, Sir, since the hands are all charred na, the fingerprint was not examined. But the dental examination was done, including the DNA, Sir.

Congressman: So the dental matches his records. So siya talaga iyon?

GUEST: As of now, Sir, the different … of crime lab hasn’t received any standard of the dental records of the suspect.

Congressman: So when can you get that?

GUEST: Sir, parang nag-request na po ata ang investigator on case on the dental records of the suspect sa kanyang employer nya, Sir.

Congressman: Mr. Chairman, I just would like to explain in this line of questioning because looking at the scenario, it seems there was an attempt destroy the evidence in the sense that the body was burned and the fingerprints were not intelligible. So kung iisipin mo, babarilin mo ang sarili mo at susunugin mo ang katawan mo, seems like a very difficult thing to do, or susunugin mo yung sarili tapos biglang babarilin mo ang sarili mo. It really is a mystery that connotes there was an attempt to destroy the body and to point it to the gunman that he was the one. So my next question, Mr. Chairman, is to the Travellers’ Mr. Chua. If possible, how much money in terms of cash and chips are unaccounted for?

Mr. Chua: Your honor, may I give your question to Mr. Sian.

Mr. Sian: Your honor, we don’t have a final assessment yet, because yung second floor we have not gone in yet. So there are chips on the table.

Congressman: So how much are all out there.

Mr. Sian: We don’t have a final number yet.

Congressman: Mr. Chairman, I find it hard to believe that a large corporation doesn’t know how much money at large in their premises or at least.

Mr. Sian: Those that we can account for are in the ground floor, na-account na. Yung second floor, hindi namin ma-account.

Congressman: Why can’t you account if you can account two floors.

Mr. Sian: Because yung sa table, kung wala na ho sa table… we have not come back eh.

Congressman: The numbers you have now, how much you are looking at?

Mr. Sian: I do not know the number. But in the ground floor and third floor, na account na ho.

Congressman: Don’t you have a fixed maximum chips and the chips that are with you, and the chips that are not with you is the one that are unaccounted for?

Mr. Sian: Yes, yung hong nasa second floor, we don’t know kung nandoon pa iyon or wala na eh.

Congressman: That is not what I am asking. I am asking how much is unaccounted for. How much is the discrepancy in your accounting.

Mr. Sian: We don’t have that number at this point. But we… I’ll try to get it how, but I don’t have that number, your honor.

Congressman: Is it not the first thing when Mr. Chua would find out if he comes to the Philippines–how much is unaccounted for? And you cannot answer that, sir?

Mr. Sian: Yes, kasi ang focus po at the point of incident, ang focus po namin yung mga biktima ho. So we do not really assess kung magkano pa yung matitira doon sa second floor.

Congressman: Is that covered by insurance.

Mr. Sian: We believe so.

Congressman: So whatever you felt that if you’re … covered losses including the cash and the chips…

Mr. Sian: We believe so. But again, we need to have a final determination and at that point we need to work with the insurance companies.

Congressman: How long will that be?

Mr. Sian: I suppose it will take a while, because the second floor, some parts have been badly damaged. And again, when we go back and take over the floor, we would also want to go in a “respectful” manner in a sense that we would like to see if we can recover some personal items and be able to catalogue them, kasi baka may natira pa hong mga personal items before we finally account for the chips, and then we remove the debris.

Congressman: Mr. Chair, I think what Rep. Cua is asking because the basic assumption is that we have X-numbers of chips, we would have a full accounting of the X-numbers of chips we would have any given moment. And having said that, you have already accounted the one in the ground and on the third floor. I think Rep Cua is asking, would you have any just rough estimate of what you cannot account for that may still be on the second floor?

Congressman:  Just to clarify, Mr. Chairman, hindi ibig sabihin na nasa second floor yung tinatanong ko. Ako, tinatanongko how much is unaccounted for. Whether is with players in their homes or in the floor, in the vicinity. I don’t believe the casino does not have an idea on how much they cannot account for. Because that’s also government’s money, because portion always goes to PAGCOR. We need to know how much is unaccounted for?

Mr. Sian:  Your Honor, we come back to you when the figure once we…..

Congressman: Before we terminate the proceedings today, you can call your accountants and double check.

Congressman: Does that mean that Mr. Siang and Mr. Chua both do not know, and that’s their official answer today under oath?

Congressman: Yes. Under oath.

Mr. Chua: I don’t have that figure your Honor.

Congressman: Yes, Mr. Chua?

Mr. Chua: Your Honor I don’t have that number.

Congressman: But we will have that before the day ends.

REP. CUA: Mr. Chairman, to close my interpellation. The casino does not know how much money is unaccounted for, and the assailant his body has been cremated despite the fact that our investigations are still on going. And the dental records have not been validated as of today. And we relay on the statement of the PNP on DNA records that were tested against the assailant parents and not against the assailant itself. So Mr. Chairman, there are a lot of questions unanswered and I’d like hopefully for them to be validated very soon, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much.

Congressman: Thank you very much, Rep. Cua. That is my first question on the first day. How sure are we that the guy that entered is the same guy that was found in room 510. Because it’s really hard to believe that the guy burns himself and shoots himself simultaneously. So, I think with the questions raised by the Honorable Dax Cua that something that should be ascertained, because the humors that the guy that really committed the crime is not this guy, but he’s )*&%*&^) to the bank. So I hope that’s wrong, and to ensure that he is really the guy. I think that we have to be confident enough and those dental records should be confirmed immediately and submit it to the committee. Anyway, thank you very much the Hon. Cua.

We now proceed to the Hon. Baby Arenas.

Rep. Arenas: Can I give my time, Mr. Chair, to Cong. Manalo. We go straight to the point. We are wasting time and putting the blame on one another, so I think we should really go to the point. I think he has lots of questions.

Congressman: The Hon. Manalo is recognized.

Rep. Manalo: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to bring to the attention, Mr. Chairman, particularly to PAGCOR, because there is, I think, they issued an Order dated June 9, 2017 about the suspension of the RWM. I want to address the question, Mr. Chairman, to the head of Pagcor that despite the fact that there is a committee investigation which is legislative in nature in aid of legislation, I believe that Pagcor should not be prevented or from continuing to do its administrative investigation so that their preventive suspension can be either terminated or there will be finding. To my mind, there are three things that Pagcor should realize: that the congressional inquiry in aid of legislation, the criminal investigation is to determine who’s really guilty of this robbery or arson which is proof beyond reasonable doubt; and the investigation to be conducted by Pagcor is factual in nature that is relevant to your regulatory function. So maybe, enlighten this committee because this is our legislative inquiry of whether you have sufficient power to regulate the industry that has been entrusted to you. So we want to bring to the mind of the Pagcor, normalcy. Although there were people actually affected, we actually symphatize with them. We condole with these people, but the point of bringing back normalcy to the prestige of the country, that we could remain normal in our daily lives, particularly in gaming,is now in your hands. So please enlighten the committee what you have been doing in addition in attending our meetings because you are supposed to do your own investigation and come up with something final which is factual in nature?

Voice 2: You’re very correct, your honor, and we are doing and have done our own investigations. And we not only required all of the IR’s and the entertainment city to present to us their security and safety programs measures, facilities and equipment, we’ve also done our investigaion into what actually happened and have made our report to the President. We also reviewed our manuals regarding these matter on responsible gaming, on the banning of… more effective way of informing all concerned… of people banned from gambling. And also, we’re also taking into consideration the different protocols that have to be established. And we have a deadline on Friday with our senior personnel to come up with the protocols, to come up with the requirement of a template for a real and safe environment for the casinos, and the third one is that we have addressed certain questions that have been raised, which is how do you deal with financiers, with the “jugings” and all of that, and we have issued an advisory to all of the casinos, not only the ones in an entertainment city, to get rid all of these poeple once and for all. So we’re doing our comprehensive study… We will have a comprehensive strategy and plan to be finalised on Friday.

Hon. Manalo: So we expect a report also that this committee can have beause your that is a public investigation that your conducting and submitted to our committee?

Voice 2: Yes sir. We will submit as early as next week.

Hon. Manalo: Now, a one final note in your investigation. Will this also assure the other entities other than the Resorts World, that if a similar incident happens, that it will not result into a lockout, that forever or indefinitely you will stop their operations. So the ball is in your court now. We have to prove that you’re capable of enforcing the franchise that Congress has entrusted to you.

Voice 2: Yes sir. What we have done is that that’s the reason why we are coming up with a definite protocol on what to do during this kind of situations, and a template for safe and secure environment in the casinos. After that, they will be required to put that in, and under oath, they will say that we have actually done all of this and our security people will inspect and verify if so, then maybe the suspension can be lifted.

Hon. Manalo: Okay, thank you very much for that very enlightening response from our PAGCOR CEO.Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman: Thank you very much.

Hon. Albano: Mr. Chair, just anent to…

Hon. Albano: Mr. Chair…

Mr. Chairman: The Honorable Rudy Albano.

Hon. Albano: Just anent that responsible gaming thing of a Congressman Jess Manalo, may I just ask, Mr. Chair, what is the take of… May I just ask, Mr. Chair, what is the take of PAGCOR on this P3,000-entrance fee to Filipino residents entering mall casinos?

PAGCOR: It will have a negative effect, Your Honor. But I trust that Congress will be listening to all of those who will be affected. The 3,000 for Filipinos… we actually were asked on this, and you said, we have no… we really have no objection if it could be used… and a part of it can be used for playing. But the 3,000, it will wipe out the whole mass market.

Congressman:  Your Honor, maybe we can ask that on your time…

Congressman:  Yes, yes.

Congressman: Yes, you will have to give way to the others…

Congressman:  Yes, yes, I’ll do that. I was just asking the opinion of the Chairperson. Later, I’ll ask that.

Congressman: Thank you very much, Hon. Albano.

Congressman:  We now proceed to the next interpellator, the Honorable Bataoil.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, I can actually give my time to Congressman Rodito, if he’s next in line after me. But I can make a short manifestation already, and the remainder of my piece will be for him. But my concern is on the matter of security, because this will not be the last time that this thing will happen. It can be on a small-scale, middle-scale or large-scale, considering the fact that there are so many information going around whether it’s positive or not. The PNP, the Army, or the AFP and the Bureau of Fire, should be prepared, ‘no, should be prepared if it happens. Now, we learn a lot. We have heard a lot of testimonies and lessons learned from this experience, including that one in Luneta hostage-taking situation, and here now the Resorts World Manila. So my concern if are we prepared for the next incident. So that has… You do not answer it now, but I hope and pray that when it comes, we are more prepared than now, no. And from here on, we should be guided by yung basic knowledge natin na napag-aralan, when I was in the service, yung so-called “SBAP”. S stands for “situation” no. And you know the situation. The situation is that one gunman entered the premises and the mission is to neutralize immediately and prevent the loss of lives and properties with the least minimum use of personnel and resources. And execution is how you operationalize your police standard procedures, and then the administration under logistics. There are so basic po yun. So anyway, it boils down to crisis management. So, Mr. Chair, that’s my manifestation. I hope and pray that the next incident we’ll be more prepared. Thank you.

The next, we will pray that this does not happen again. The Honorable Llanete.

The Honorable Chiqui Roa.

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Let me continue on the same line of question, unfortunately we already got started on this issue of responsible gaming, which is something that I started to inquire about in the previous hearing. I would like to direct my questions first to Chairwoman Domingo, because I know this is a topic that comes up with the often now. Just in general, ma’am, you feel this is a pertinent subject that really needs to be dealt with and something we need to shed light on for this particular hearing?

Yes, your Honor.

Ma’am, how would you in general define “responsible gaming/ gambling”?

Responsible gaming is not actually gambling. People go to the casinos, to the stations, to enjoy themselves and partly because there’s entertainment there, and they would like to see that. Most of the entertainment in all the casinos are for free, and that is what we are trying now to promote.

Ok, so let me just ask you in reverse, what is an irresponsible gamer?

An irresponsible gamer is that you allow people to get addicted to gambling.

You allow people to get addicted. So you’re talking about somebody else besides the gambler? Who should be held responsible?

FEMALE VOICE. Your Honor, a person’s predilection is his own, and it’s his family’s responsibility. However, if they go into a casino or a gaming station,  then they – the people, the dealers and the managers–actually are trained to identify if these people are already getting addicted to it, and if so then, they are approached and they are given advice. In fact, (inaudible) even if they’re winning a lot or their losing a lot, they are advised to rest first. But the thing is, we cannot really prevent them from engaging in gaming or in gambling in the case of addiction.

FEMALE VOICE. Yes. Maám, you are saying “we”, as in Pagcor? As in the licensers? (inaudible)

FEMALE VOICE. Everybody involved in gaming.

FEMALE VOICE. Okay. That would be Pagcor, that would be in this case Resorts World, that would be – are you talking about the family of the person, that we are talking about and the gambler, the gamer himself. These are all – everybody has to somehow answer to something if something goes wrong.

FEMALE VOICE.Your Honor, because this is just another kind of addiction. It’s like addiction to alcohol, addiction to drugs, then there is addiction to gambling.

FEMALE VOICE. Yes, I’m glad you brought that up because we have also identified that as one of the conditions as part of the mental health bill which the President is also supporting, which we should see being passed soon. But having said that, we mentioned that a whole lot of people that need to be aware – made aware of such – in a person. But do you consider an irresponsible gambler a victim or an offender – a criminal offender?

FEMALE VOICE. I think, Your Honor, I am not capable of answering that because there’s been a lot of debate regarding this, and there has been no definite conclusion. But the thing is, when we told the people and we intensified our campaign against irresponsible gaming, therefore, promoting responsible gaming through our advertisements, our list of (?)  and family bond request for exclusion has already gone up. In fact, it has gone up by more than 10 percent in the last few days.

FEMALE VOICE. Maám, how successful you think are you in keeping these people away from the gambling institutions?

FEMALE VOICE. We’re trying our very best to do that by… Right now, we have acquired a system where not only the gamblers who are banned from the casinos, but also those that are banned from our e-games and e-bingo stations, would be placed in one system, and then they can be – if they can be transferred to all of the stations and the casinos through the internet.

FEMALE VOICE. Are there sanctions in place for those – for the violators, whether it be the gambling institutions, the families, the gambler himself?

FEMALE VOICE.Yes, Maám.Especially those who allow minors to play in the casinos. We actually close them down.

FEMALE VOICE. Okay. Okay. And again, I go back to the gambler himself. Is it a criminal offense? Is it something that you call on the law? It’s not?

FEMALE VOICE. I don’t think so.

FEMALE VOICE. It’s not. Okay. We cannot, let’s say, blame a bar for an alcoholic,or a drug store for a drug addict. Still, we cannot say that they have nothing to do with such incidents. Would you say categorically that Jessie Carlos, the gunman, was an irresponsible gambler who made his way into a gambling institution? What we can say is that he has a lot of money problems, he has a lot of legal problems. Two days before he made the attack, he was actually in a hearing in a Regional Trial Court in Manila where all of his possessions were being forfeited. Does that make (inaudible) person who’s addicted to gambling?

FEMALE VOICE. Well, he started out as a sabongero, then he graduated to, I guess, casino gambling. The profile of the person (inaudible) studied, and I’m not a psychologist, but I think there are some emotional weaknesses because they do own a Montessori school – that for special children. So they would have a lot of psychologists teaching there. So, I guess that’s the reason why the wife requested us to ban him in March and we did ban him from entering all the casinos on March 27…

REP. ROA-PUNO – The question of Cong. Rod Albano, why was he able to enter? Why was he allowed to play?

CHAIRPERSON DOMINGO – No, he was not allowed to play. On March 30, he tried to play and spotted, and he was asked to get out of the casino.

REP. ROA-PUNO – Okay, let me ask the Resorts World officials then. Your experience also in the gaming industry, is Jessie Carlos in your mind a typical gaming-gambling addict?

RESORTS WORLD – Your Honor, if I may answer the question for you. Jessie Carlos did not stand out as unusual as a customer at Resorts World Manila. Of course, we took the instruction from PAGCOR, which was the ban throughout the Philippines of him entering gaming establishments. Right beside by the chair of PAGCOR, he was identified from the _______at Resorts World and asked to leave the premises. So that was on responsible gaming because the request was of next-of-kin.

REP. ROA-PUNO – Is it your practice sir to, on your own, ban certain personalities who you feel are not fit to continue gambling into your institution?

RESORTS WORLD – I mentioned this on prior congressional hearing, ma’am. We do have responsible gaming program at Resorts World Manila. When we first open as an integrated resorts, we never had that policy available to us here in the Philippines so we instituted it ourselves. And we actually put it on our website to give contact to those people who seek help for possible gambling addiction. But also when you take your membership at Resorts World Manila, on your application form, it will give you information with regards to responsible gaming and also gambling addiction.

REP. ROA-PUNO – So, just as a policy, sir, Mr. ____. Is it something that you stressed, that you emphasized among your employees, the importance of knowing the repercussions of allowing somebody who is not mentally stable or who is not mentally fit to be able to handle losses and the consequences that might ensue? I mean potentially something like this. If this is all aligned to the consequences of somebody who is affected, or who is not on his right mind because of addiction problem.

RESORTS WORLD – Your Honor, every single staff member who is related to the gaming industry at Resorts World is actually trained in responsible gaming and to monitor and observe any person who is seemed to have a problem –  gaming-related.

REP. ROA-PUNO – And you even have on your record, actually, your guests being taken out of the casino?

RESORTS WORLD – Yes  your Honor. We have on our records where patrons have been isolated at the casino for numerous reasons.

REP. ROA-PUNO – How many?

RESORTS WORLD – That number I don’t know, not available to my hands at this time.

REP. ROA-PUNO – How did they react?

RESORTS WORLD – Customers can react in different manners, depending on their personality, your Honor.

REP. ROA-PUNO – Are they ever enraged? Do they threaten to do anything to your resort, like burn it up?

CHAIRMAN – Last…

RESORTS WORLD – If that was the case, your Honor, that would be escalated to authorities and to the PNP and blotter it.

REP. ROA-PUNO – Okay, that’s all the time I have. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN – Thank you very much, the Hon. Chiqui Roa-Puno. This is getting a lot shorter now. The Hon. Robes, is she here? She’s not here. The Hon. Bingbong Crisologo. My apologies, Cong. Crisologo, the Hon. Mark Sambar should go ahead. The Hon. Mark Sambar.

 

REP. SAMBAR – Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon to our resource persons today. I just want to reiterate what was mentioned, or what was asked earlier by Representative Sarmiento regarding coordination between PNP and not only the gaming facilities but other large facilities, where we have a lot of people that is going in and out. My hope is for this Committee, since we are conducting this hearing for in aid of legislation, that we have two major outputs: Number 1 is we have legislation that can help tackle these kinds of problems in the future; and Number 2, that the PNP and all the stakeholders can also develop a proper guidelines so that tragedies like these in the future can be prevented. So, my question is, for the stakeholders currently here today, particularly PAGCOR, Resorts World and the PNP and BFP, moving forward, what have we learned in this situation or in this tragedy and what are we doing right now, what kind of corrections are we doing right now so that we are preventing these kinds of situation from happening again in the future? So maybe we can start with PAGCOR, what have we been doing Chairwoman Domingo, and what have we learned so far that have given us insights on how to prevent similar situations like this from happening again?

C:   The Honorable Domingo.

Domingo:   As I have mentioned previously, your honor, we are now better informed of the situation. And we’ve learned a lot of lessons from what had happened. And therefore, we are improving all of our security and safety rules and regulations which we’ll be ready to submit to this honorable committee by early next week. We’re also strengthening our system of tracking players, so that all of those who are banned would automatically be inputted in the computers and in all of the casinos, including our stations of e-bingos and e-games. And we’re also looking into a system of referrals for those who tell us that they need help or for those who are diagnosed to need help. These are the three things that we are introducing right now. Plus, we are reviewing what should be done in case emergencies like this happened again, and I hope it doesn’t, what are the protocols from the casino management to the police, to the fire departments, and all other responsible or concerned authorities. That would be included in our report next week.

Q:   Thank you, Chairwoman, I’m happy to hear that PAGCOR has already developed plans and have looked into this situation very, very carefully. Now, may we hear from Resorts World Manila, regarding what they’ve learned from this tragedy and maybe they can also share what they’ve learned from here to the other casinos, to other resorts, or even the other malls that we have here in the Philippines, because we have so many people that go into these places, that we’re not sure if the staff inside or even the law enforcers are readily equipped to handle any emergency that might happen in those kinds of facilities. So, I’m not sure who from Resorts World can answer that question, Mr. Chair.

A:   After a few question, your honor. Of course, from any tragic incident there is always learnings. And from the instance that happened in morning of the second, we had learnings. We have taken very pro-active steps nearly immediately. First of all, in closed operations ceased, we actually suspended our license and of course PAGCOR write and so also came some instructions to do so. But we realized that of course, after assisting the families and those people who need our help, the injured, we have work to do. So we looked to engage professionals. We have engaged the company called Black Panda, which is internationally known to help in matters of security, and also known how to fortify a property. With the casino hotel retail component, we looked to all areas working with Black Panda and other consultants to see how we can improve the fortified the building we currently have. But doubled the security at Resorts World extremely at this time regardless of gaming operations or no-gaming operations. Our intention is to get people the confidence that Resorts World is safe, that Resorts World would be welcoming by extending the property as well. Resorts World is part of Newport Estate, as well by looking an entirely as an estate. What may not be currently apparent is we don’t have actually have roaming PNP patrols in Newport Estate. . .

GUEST: … it is a very large estate but we gonna look to work closely with the PNP, we gonna work closely with the BFP, we gonna have to work closely with Pagcor for our guide and do what we have to do to ensure public safety inside our operations.

Congressman: I am happy to hear also that Resorts World is doing that, but I hope they can also look further into especially the cause of the fire maybe with the rest and look for alternatives for materials used in the gaming will be less combustible or will produce less smoke. Also with the tweaking with the sprinkler system. I think these small things should be closely coordinated also with the PNP and the BFP so that they have an understanding of the standardization for all these materials as well as the future. But I am happy to hear that all of those steps  are being taken into place and I hope this will serve as a wake-up call not only for Resorts World but for the other resorts in the Greater Metro Manila. That it will wake up the security facilities and their preparedness in any eventualities in the future. I know my time is up, I just need to hear from the PNP and from BFP, I hope they are crafting protocol right now in how to handle future situations, and I hope that they become more proactive in reaching to facilities that cater to large amount of people, so that they can closely coordinate even simple matters as just identifying where the CCTV rooms are or who their chief of security is at any given time and how to enter the property properly, so that protocols can be one of the major outputs of this committee hearings. So may we hear briefly from PNP and BFP regarding what they are doing right now so that there is something learned from this tragedy.

GUEST:  Your honor, on the part of BFP, with due respect to our chief BFP, your honor, I admit this is a very unique and complex situation and the complexity of the situation put our firefighters in danger. The reason why there are some situations that the phases of our operations was not immediately conducted. Now, your honor, we are on the process, right after the incident, we are on the process of revising in including the situation in our operation procedure manual that will be part of our protocol in any complex situations. Other than that, your honor, there are a lot of possibilities that posed challenges to BFP, especially in the high-rise fire just like what happened in London wherein the resources of the BFP is very limited to address a high-rise fire. So that is another situation that we should address in the management. Other than that, your honor, is the confined space fire, where you have limited resources to address space fire, as well as complex situation where fire coming from a bombing or a gunfire, like what happened in RWM and fire emanating from a … or a weapon of mass destruction. So our actions now, your honor, are not limited to what happened to RWM but rather possibly enhanced our protocols in addressing similar situations. There are similar situations happened in different parts of the country, like the fire with a gunfire but in a different type of occupancy. So this is very unique, your honor, because this is in a building with so much people. Ito po yung tinitingnan namin ngayon, and in fact, the instructions of our chief BFP is really to study the protocol in order to address situations. One of our recommendations, your honor, in my report is really the conduct of a joint tactical training to our counterparts that will address all rescue air firefighting, as well as the weapons of mass destructions in conflict situations, with the PNP, the Armed Forces and other partners, your honor.

Cong. Tambunting: Thank you very much. We now proceed to the next interpellator.

Congressman: Mr chair, may we hear briefly from the PNP.  think they are also major stakeholder in this kind of situation. It would be nice to hear from them that they will be updating their protocols and standard operating procedures in this kind of situation. Just a short reply to BFP, maybe in the future something that we can legislate or something that can be an outcome of this committee hearing is that we can legislate future resort or future gaming faciliies must have budget that can augment firefighting capabilities in terms of equipment, but the BFP can use if there is ever need for it. So baka makakatulong din yan in the future.

Your Honor, in terms of budget, the BFP don’t have any problem on that considering that we have these source of fund coming from our Fire Code and under the SAGF (Special Account in a General Fund) .In fact, around 3 billion pesos. Unfortunately, your Honor, the procurement law prohibits the BFP to just simply buy equipment and we have to be (inaudible). And in fact, there are lot of pending procurements way back 2013, 14 and 15 na hanggang ngayon, your Honor, hindi pa natin nabibili. Maybe with the help of the Honorable member of the Congress,  to include fire-fighting or fire incidence as part of national security so that we can avail of the *(&^*^&*  in a transparent manner buy equipment because this is necessary to address the situation, your Honor.

PNP: I think this incident could probably serve as an eye-opener for everybody to really modernize and invest on the modernization of our police forces. Because really in incidents like this, we have several constraints, like on the individual equipment and also on the unit equipment. In the advent of the crisis that we have now, particularly on the increasing threat on terrorism which is already global, I think we really need to invest in the modernization of our security forces, your Honor. Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity.

Mr. Siam: Your Honor, there was a question by Cong. Cua regarding the… on how much chips we have on the second floor? Unaccounted for? The rough estimate is around 300 million but in addition to that the… of course, I just want to reiterate that the PNP has found two bags, one bag containing a P113,100,000 in chips, and the second bag which is around 52 million peso in chips.

Chair: And that was returned to you?

Mr. Siam: We took the serial number and I understand, but still with the PNP. But we have accounted for it.

Chair: So is the 300 million unaccounted for that does not include the two bags in the possession of the PNP?

Mr. Siam: No!

Chair: So that’s has been accounted for?

Mr. Siam: Yes. Just in the second floor, we estimate has around 300 million in chips.

Chair: What was the basis for that?

Mr. Siam: I guess we started out with the during the day openingj the day how much we have and took out the ground floor and the 3rd floor so what is left is the 2nd floor.

Chair: Ok. So, 300 million in chips. There’s no cash here? It was asked the other day, you said there was no cash missing.It’s basically chips?

Mr. Siam: Yes. Primarily, chips, yes. But of course, as I said once we took over the crime scene at the 2nd floor…

Chair: When do you take over the 2nd floor?

Mr. Siam: Upon release ho of the PNP.

Chair: Who’s in the PNP releases the 2nd floor to the management of the RWM?

Mr. Siam: Sir, Police Chief Inspector Joey Gofort, head secretariat. Sir, probably next week upon review yun backtracking po ng CCTV natin. Because just last Saturday, we were able to recover at around 52 million of chips, sir, on 3rd floor, sir.

Chair: Sa 3rd floor?

Mr. Siam: Yes Sir, and of course, we will confer it with the BFP, kung tapos na rin po sila dun sa crime scene, then that is the time na ire-release po namin yung scene.

Mr. Chair: On the second round, we will ask more about the chips that estimated P300 million worth of chips that’s still missing and unaccounted for. Ok, thank you.

Mr. Chairman, may I have a point of order?

Q:   Do you mean to tell me the BFP pumasok 5 o’clock in the morning na?  I think that is not the correct data that you are giving me. You are now passing the buck to Resorts World. Ibig mong sabihin, sila ang unang nakapasok kesa sa inyo? You know this is very important. The image of PNP and the BFP relies on this. Maraming looting talagang nangyari. Now, Mr. Chair, can you please give me another minute. I’d also like to ask the Resorts World, have you done your accounting already? Did you lose some valuables, cash, of Resorts World? Kasi alam natin dun sa gaming table, merong mga clients na nagpapalit ng cash at chips. Nilalagay dun sa gilid, hindi po ba? When the shooting began, i’m very sure that all of the employees, lumabas na. So yung mga cash, naiwan doon. May nawalan ba na cash?

A:   Your honor, we have not gotten back into the second floor, kasi crime scene pa ho siya, hindi pa ho natu-turn over sa amin.

Q:   Last manifestation, Mr. Chair. . .

C:   Yes, please. . .

Q:   I think this matter should be properly investigated. We should ask also the other relatives of the victims whether what happened to the wife of Cong. Gonzales also happened to them.

C:   Thank you very much. Thank you very much, the Honorable Pimentel. We will do that. Hon. De Ocampo is recognized.

De Ocampo:  Mr. Chairman, good morning. You know, Mr. Chairman, on the last two hearings, before we started listening to all the details, we were probably thinking that Resorts World was really the main people to blame for the lack of preparation, the lapses in security. But as the details unfolded, we saw that it’s not only the business, or in this case, Resorts World, that needs to spruce up their readiness to respond to situations like this. I think, Mr. Chairman, I’ve watched too many movies and I say this seriously, and from watching too many movies, like Bruce Willis’, my expectation is much higher. I fear, Mr. Chairman, that copycats will execute crimes such as what happened, with greater devastating effects. So Mr. Chairman, I wish that the PNP will report at the soonest possible time their plan of action for more training, how they will respond to getting business and government authorities, such as fire marshalls and the police. How do we respond to earthquakes, or another similar incident, such as what happened to Resorts World? And definitely, Mr. Chairman, we have to promote the Philippines as a safe place to invest. P40B has been remitted to the government from gaming income, from PAGCOR, employing 6,000 people, and the continuing investments show that this is one company that believes in the Philippines. And regrettably, those people that died could have been much more, and therefore, Mr. Chairman, the public hearings that we’ve conducted dramatize the urgent need for government and its functionaries to look into our readiness to respond to this kind of situations. And therefore, Mr. Chairman, we don’t need to wait for the budget of 2018.

(inaudible)

CHAIRMAN1: Pwede? We will suspend the hearing first.

CHAIRMAN 1: Okay, siya… siya… yung si Chairman Acop.

VOICE 1: The three Chairman, you honor, if privately or if you’ll suspend, your Honor.

CHAIRMAN 2: Okay, so we will ask Chairman Acop to… approach Chairman Acop at pag-usapan niyo na po, so we will just continue again with this hearing, okay? Sige, so please, please… para naman makapagsabi na pinagbigyan namin kayo, okay, na gusto nyo kaming makausap  at hindi namin kayo napagbigyan. At least dito, makikita po natin lahat na talagang pinagbigyan naman po kayo at kasama po ang inyong abogado.

VOICE 1: Thank you, your Honor.

CHAIRMAN 2: Okay, you may now proceed. The Honorable Rodito Albano is recognized.

CHAIRMAN ALBANO: Thank you, thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ahh, may we go back to responsible gaming? May I just ask what was the answer a while ago, Chairperson Domingo, about the casinos will be wiped out?

CHAIRPERSON DOMINGO: No, Sir.

CHAIRMAN ALBANO: if we institute… what’s this, P3,000-fee? Entrance fee for casinos only, ahh, for those who will play ha.

CHAIRPERSON DOMINGO: Hindi po, Sir. Yung casino, yung mass market po, and it doesn’t mean that it would be _____.

CHAIRMAN ALBANO: Are you saying that our mass market is the poor people? Those people who can afford to pay 3,000, they can pay 3 thousand, noh? What we’re doing here is we’re making it prohibitive for these poor people to become addicts and to be addicted to the casinos, like for example, Chairman Domingo, that’s why we are imposing 300% taxes on cigarettes di ba? And alcohol. That is to avoid people from getting addicted to cigarettes and we’re using these funds taxes to, what’s this, to fund our Philhealth, everything for rehabilitation centers, everything like that. So on and so forth. So, what we’re doing now with this 3,000-entrance fee, we’re gonna put it into the DSWD and to fund also rehabilitation efforts of the government in all  forms of, what do you call… what we call, addiction.

FEMALE VOICE 1: Actually, Sir, I have no objections to that and we’ve been asked… and we were just looking at it from an economic point of view. But I agree with you. It would really be a very good deterrent for those who cannot afford actually to gamble… to not gamble. The only thing that will have to be done in consonance with that is that we’ll be… we should be more effective in carving illegal gambling, because then we find out that people who really like to play or bet, they find ways and means of betting. So, if they bet in the illegal gambling facilities, then they are not protected in fact of as fair and safe play. So, to prevent them from coming into the casinos po, there should be a more strict enforcement of anti-illegal gambling laws.

CHAIRMAN 2: Illegal gambling, that’s… iba yung kaso ng… Ma’am, ng illegal gambling sa legal gambling. Yung illegal gambling, bahala na po yung law enforcement natin na to go into that kaya nga sila nandyan para hulihin yung mga illegal gambling. Pero ito, we’re making it prohibitive to local residents, like in, what’s is this, Singapore. Bawal po pumasok yung mga local residents. They have to pay a fee except dito at saka namo-monitor ng Singapore kung sino-sino yung mga residents nilang pumapasok dito, especially yung mga civil servants natin, di ba? Kaya natanggal si LTO Torres before because nahuli siya. Na yung mga civil servants, bawal dapat yan pumasok ng casino at saka ma-monitor natin sa mga resibo yung issue ng casino. Dun sa 3,000 na yun malalaman natin kung ano yung mga pangalan ng mga yan, saka pwedeng kunin ng BIR yung mga resibong yan, at makita nila yung mga tao. Supposing yung tao, ang sweldo lang niya 60 thousand, and yet, araw-araw siya nagbabayad sa casino ng 3,000, malalaman na ngayon natin kung saan kumukuha ng pero ito.

We regret to inform you that PEZA cannot issue a permit therefor given the fact that it is not a registrable activity. Moreover, casino operation is not essential to hotel business that is accredited by PEZA. We will issue this letter, your Honor, in response to the inquiry of Traveler’s International Hotel Group as to PEZA’s coverage. Thank you, your Honor.

Sa narinig ko wala pa daw final na report galing sa… official na report sa pangyayari… sa police at sa fire, is that true?

On the BFP, our national headquarters’ investigation unit is still on the process of thoroughly investigating because there are a lot of point of origin… marami hong sinindihan at considering yung area, your Honor, na talagang totally burned po na talaga. Pag sunog po kasi, ang hirap hanapin kung ano ho ang mahahanap naming ebidensiya, that includes the automatic fire suppression systems, as well as other provisions of the building that is part of the requirements of the Fire Code. So, ongoing pa po yung investigation ng national headquarters, your Honor.

Chair: The PNP?

PNP: Police Senior Supt. Joel, the head of special investigation team created by the SPD. For the PNP, sir, in so far as the PNP had already submitted the initial report to our headquarters it was copy furnished to the committee. However, we have yet to complete our investigation pending the result of the investigation of PNP initial and progress report.

You know why I asked that? Because it’s been, I think, 20 days. Ang sa akin lang kasi, in the absence of a final report, how can they resume operation? Tingin ko, magpo-problema ang Pagcor magbigay sa kanila ng permit kung wala pang full report ng pangyayari, di ba? I think it would not be proper na wala pang klarong report sabay sa pagbibigay ng permit. So, kawawa naman yung establishment kung walang final report ang PNP at saka BFP. Sinasabi ko lang 20 days na kasi. Thank you.

Your Honor, if I may?

Chair: Proceed.

Ganito po kasi yung sa parte ng investigation ng fire. Inumpisahan po namin sa lahat… mula po sa papel … mula ho sa documentation, including the plans and everything, your Honor. Inumpisahan po namin kasi wala ho kaming hawak na dokumento na ganun. Parang nag-uumpisa na naman sa pagtayo ng building, para ganun. Kaya po tumatagal, your Honor, kasi po binabalik po namin sa umpisa hanggang papunta po sa sunog. Inumpisahan po namin para malaman po namin ano talaga ang meron sa establishment. So, ganun po tumatagal. Identify na po natin, your Honor, the cause of fire, the motive of fire–intentional–given na po yun, your Honor. Yung detail po yung pangyayari–kung bakit ganun kalakas, ganun kalaki, ganun ka-usok–kasama po siya sa investigation namin, your Honor.

Chair: Are you saying that it’s because the PEZA zone, that’s why you’re taking longer? Para malaman lang lahat dahil sa ganun nagkakaroon ng problema.

BFP: It’s really the part of the problem now of the BFP. If I may, your honor, I beg to disagree with the Honorable Director General Ching Plaza about what she just stated that it is in the provisions of the Fire Code that level-one and level-two fire is under PEZA, but on level-three it is not. I think there was none in the provisions of the Fire Code that states na the leveling of the fire incidents. Wala yan sa Fire Code, your Honor. The Fire Code states that, ”This Fire Code shall take effect to all person, building, establishment erected on or before the Fire Code took effect.” Yun ho yun sinasabi doon. Wala po sinasabi doon na pag level-one, level-two na ang sunog–PEZA, pag level-three– kami na (BFP). Your Honor, yun po yung isang gusto namin linawin. Sana na wala yan sa provisions ng Fire Code na ganun po yung takbo. Pagdating po sa lahat ng sunog, the Fire Code has four components, your Honor. First component is fire prevention, that is the active component. And the other one is preparation, dahil active component, plus the fire investigation, emergency rescue, and medical services. Fire Code has four components, not only two. So ibig sabihin, pagdating sa fire prevention, the BFP. Pagdating sa fire suppression, the BFP. All types of fire incidents should be under the BFP. Pagkatapos ng sunog, still the BFP will investigate and provide emergency and medical rescue services. That is part of the Fire Code, your Honor.

Voice 1: Required to conduct a drill, drills, two times a year–fire drill, earthquake drill–two times a year, and show them the certificate of the compliance of these drills to PEZA every year. So yung tinitingnan, ini-inspect lang po ng PEZA ay yung registered according to our mandate, and these are the hotels, the entertainment centers, and others provided their permit or their accreditation permit provided by PEZA. So kung mangyayari po ang sunog, like the latest fire incident, it will be both the LGU, the BFP, and the PEZA, who are, who should be answerable, if ever there is a mess according to our rules and function.

Voice 2: “Answerable”, pero hindi nyo pinapapasok yung… Minsan, sinasabi niyo hindi papasok yung Fire, yung mga fireman natin sa PEZA zone. Tapos…

Voice 1: Hindi po totoo yun, your honor.Hindi po totoo yun.

Voice 2: Yun yung sinasabi nung mga Fire.

Voice 1: In fact, we have a MOA between the PEZA and the local government unit that when it comes to non-registered PEZA facilities of Resorts World, it will be the BFP and the local government unit who should inspect and provide the certificate of compliance.

Voice 2: Pero, ma’am, what’s the wisdom kasi of you getting into that fire inspection?

Voice 1: Sir, we’re just following…

Voice 3: Last question…

Voice 1: It was just following the law. It is provided po in the law that a PEZA can have its internal security, can have its fire fighters, and to provide the ease of doing business and to exempt or to prevent the industries, especially foreign investors, from the bureaucratic red tape. So yun po, decentalization of doing business and from the red tape in the bureaucracy–yun po ang reasons that are provided in the PEZA law that we are just implementing.

Voice 2: Just a follow-up. Is that an overlapping, ano…

Voice 3: Last question…

Voice 1: It becomes overlapping as you look at it when the Fire Code was passed in 2008, and the Fire Code provided that it is the BFP that is the manager or the administrator of the law–the Fire Code law. But in section 5 (E) of the same Fire Code law, it also provided that BFP can enter into a MOA with different agencies, and even private institutions and local government units, to decentralize the functions and their rules, because they cannot cover and provide proper inspection if they will do all industries, the commercial and business establishments. And we are proven about capability, your honor, because out of 371 economic zones, 3986 locator industries–and we are now 22 years as PEZA implementing our mandate–there were only 5 fire incidents, with no casualties, that happened. That means PEZA is implementing strictly its functions and goals and providing safety to our invest relocators.

Voice 2: Mr. Chair, may I ask the…

Voice 3:  Last question.

Voice 2: No, no, its not a last question. May i just ask them to react.To react. I’m not asking a question and anent to my question, Mr. Chairman, can i ask them to react…

Voice 3: Okay, ito na po ang huling question ni Mr. Albano kasi mayroon pa po tayong round 2, at nakaabang na ho yung mga nasa round 2. Puwede ho tayo bumalik sa round 2. Congressman Albano. Paki sagot lang po yung katanungan ni Congresman Albano po.

Voice 2: Yes, your honor. In fact, there are several uptimes of PEZA to enter into MOA with the BFP, but the BFP cannot agree with the provisions of the MOA, considering that again it is the BFP that are mandated by Congress to enforce the Fire Code of the Philippines under (RA) 9514 that was year 2008. And as I said, authority that’s being delegated cannot anymore be delegated, except by act of Congress. And considering when we delegate authority, it is gross neglect of duty on our part, as well as dereliction of duty by not performing what is mandated by the law. So mahirap po, now na medyo masama lang po ang loob ng BFP–there are 22,000 strong men and women ng BFP– pag narinig po natin yun that kaya namin kinukuha because of bureaucratic red tape, ang dami pong mabubuti at masisipag na bumbero. Kaya it’s something na masakit pong pakinggan, noh, na-involved ang BFP in that bureaucratic red tape. And the reason why the ease of doing business, it’s clearly stipulated in the PEZA law, that PEZA can establish the one-stop shop, and that one-stop shop it will be part ng BFP, ng one-stop shop, in order for the BFP to implement the Fire Code. In fact, ito ay problema, like, example, the statement of the Hon. Director Gen, that they are not inspecting casinos, and casinos said that they are dependent on the inspection done by PEZA. Now the question is, who inspects the casinos in RWM? So yan po ang isang tanong, Your Honor, na sana po ay ma-settle after this congressional inquiry, Your Honor, that is really is the BFP to mandate itong batas na to, Your Honor, pinagtibay po ninyo at binigay niyo po sa BFP ang mandato. The PEZA may… the PEZA may establish their own firefighting force within the economic zone, but still the BFP are the mandated by law to really impose the Fire Code.

In fact, there are some locators as they said na napakahirap pong alamin kung saan-saan po ito, may mga 3, 4, 5-store-floors na mga locators na pagpasok po ng BFP ang pinapakita po ay sa buong building lang, ‘ay sir under po kami ng PEZA. May FSIC na po kami from PEZA. So na-consider na po yun na buo.’ In fact, kakausap ko lang po sa isang area sa Pasig at pinatignan ang isang locator doon sa isang bulding na nagbutas yung ano, nagbutas yung, they occupy three-storey, three floors of that building binutasan po nila para hindi na ho sila lalabas doon sa common entrance elevators, they have their own access from that floor to the next two floors in the establish, within the business of yung I.T. That is a violation of the Fire Code because that will help na yung sunog na direktang makapasok instead na ma-contain doon by floor, ay nagbutas sila, eh tatawid na, isa sa kabilang floor kaya nga dinesign yung exit na enclosed para ang sunog maco-confine natin sa isang floor lang. So that is a question of, ‘di kung kinukuwestyon nila yung kakayahan ng isang BFP as a whole–at isa din itong katanungan–bakit pinayagan ng PEZA ang ganun? With due respect to PEZA management, of course, to the director Jenny (Laude) parehong kaming taga-Mindanao, sir, ay yun lang po yung interpretation ng ano… And they keep on stating in that there are a series of communication way back 2012, and they kept on stating that when the PD 1185 in the Ministry of National Defense enter into agreement with the Ministry of Public Works and Highways are automatic na po yun, na carried na since. And PEZA binigyan ng authority to implement the bill in quote (tumatakikik?) carry ang Fire Code doon din po. Ganun, Your Honor, because Memorandum of Agreement cannot supersede that, that is an act by Congress with due respect, Your Honor.

Pretty much, that is already clearer. And earlier, wala pa po ang Dir. Gen. (Plaza), tinanong na po ng committee ng BFP kung sa opinyon namin may karapatan po silang pumasok sa isang gusali, maski na PEZA-accredited, at ang ruling po namin ay “Yes”. Pwede po silang pumasok dahil “PEZA”-“hindi PEZA” ay karapatan. But I would also clear this kasi lagi niyo po sinasabi, areas covered by PEZA… Question, Resorts World, hindi ba po ang pine-PEZA natin is the location and not the activity?

Sir…

Hindi ba, buong gusali ang ”pineza” (PEZA) natin at hindi lang yung hotel at ang mall? Kasi palagi niyo pong sinasabi na ine-exclude ang gaming dahil lang nasunog ang gaming area.

Can I answer now,Your Honor?

Yes.

Thank you for repeating this question, but…

Briefly lang po, is it yes or no?

First, we have…

Is it the area or is it the activity? Are you… do you certify as…?

It’s the activity.

Not the area.

It’s the activity so, because what is registrable in PEZA are hotels and tourism facilities only.

LEAVE A REPLY