Alvarez disputes police, insists Resorts World attack an act terror
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday insisted that the attack on Resorts World Manila was a terrorist act, even as the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Oscar Albayalde concluded that it was a robbery.
During the House probe into the attack last June 2 that left 38 people dead, Alvarez faced off with Albayalde about the definition of terrorism, which for Alvarez should generally include all criminal activities that sow terror.
When Alvarez asked Albayalde the definition of terrorism, Albayalde said terrorism is any “act of violence to create massive casualties and massive fear.”
Albayalde said the attack on the Resorts World Manila carried out by a lone gunman was robbery and could not be considered a terrorist attack, especially because the suspect Jessie Javier Carlos did not intend the deaths of 37 employees and guests to happen.
“The deaths were caused due to the incident in the Resorts World. The deaths were incidental dun sa pagsusunog nung suspect,” Albayalde said.
When Alvarez asked if the attack sowed fear, Albayalde said: “Of course, there was fear. But the deaths were all incidental… It was not intentional on the part of the suspect to really kill those people.”
When Alvarez was able to lead Albayalde into saying that the attack did instill fear and terror, the Speaker said that the attack therefore should be considered a terrorist attack.
“Kung nag-cause ng terror, eh anong tawag natin dun?” Alvarez said.
But Albayalde stood his ground, saying that if the police would follow Alvarez’ definition of terrorism, even the criminal act of shooting would be considered a terrorist attack.
“If we consider everything, then we might be considering all other crimes as acts of terrorism, even shooting incidents could create fear,” Albayalde said.
Alvarez maintained that he was correct in saying that all crimes that create terror and fear should be considered terrorism.
“You are right. Simply a person who harms and kills anybody indiscriminately is an act of terrorism. Whether or not he is a member of a terrorist group or a lone terrorist,” Alvarez said.
Albayalde said terrorism could only refer to the terroristic act itself.
“We call a spade a spade,” Alvarez maintained.
Department of the Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy agreed with Alvarez that the Resorts World Manila attack was an act of terrorism.
“The incident may be considered terrorism because it caused damage and injury to substantial people,” Cuy said, adding however that the casino attack was not linked to the terror group Maute’s rampage in Marawi City that prompted President Duterte to declare martial law.
Alvarez said he does not intend to connect the Resorts World attack to the Maute’s siege in Marawi city.
“We’re not connecting this incident to what’s happening in Marawi. We just want a proper labelling of what happened in Resorts World. Let’s not confuse between a crime and an act of terrorism,” Alvarez said.
The House committees on games and amusement, tourism, and public order and safety held the hearing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, just across the casino.
The hearing was chaired by games and amusements chairperson Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting, tourism chairperson Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres Gomez, and public order and safety chairperson Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop.
During the casino attack last Friday midnight, Carlos barged into the casino carrying a rifle and fired shots.
He went on to torch casino tables and steal P113.1-million worth of casino chips.
As security was in hot pursuit, Carlos holed himself up inside a hotel room in Resorts World, and then apparently shot and burned himself to death.
The police have deemed the attack as a robbery instead of a terrorist act even though the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
Carlos, a former tax specialist at the Department of Finance, was dismissed by the Ombudsman for alleged ill-gotten wealth and had a forfeiture case before the Manila Regional Trial Court.
The police have described him as a gambling addict who was banned from all casinos and was deep in debt before he carried out the attack.
His parents have apologized to the victims, saying their son was a kind man but was hooked on gambling.
The police have decried Resort World’s failure to implement its security plan, adding that there was only one security guard in the entrance for the graveyard shift at the time of the attack./ac
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