Resorts World Manila incident a ‘lone wolf terrorist attack’—Speaker
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Saturday disputed the conclusion of authorities that the incident in Resorts World Manila on Friday had been a simple case of armed robbery and arson, saying it was a “clear example of a ‘lone wolf’ terrorist attack.”
In a statement, the leader of the House of Representatives said he disagreed with law enforcement officials who concluded that the early Friday attack, which left 38 people killed including the lone gunman, was not a terrorist act.
“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,” Alvarez said.
He, however, did not say how he arrived at his own conclusion.
Alvarez said this should serve as a wake-up call for the police and the military to cooperate closely in making the seat of government as well as the financial and business center safe from any terrorist attack, whether by “lone wolves” or heavily armed terrorist contingents, as what happened in Marawi City.
“We must draw up a clear and better plan to secure Metro Manila and other urban centers from IS (Islamic State)-linked groups that we already know will attempt to kill and maim in pursuit of their jihadist ideology,” he said.
The attack in Resorts World, an upscale entertainment hub in Pasay City near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, caught Philippine authorities off guard with security forces focused on ongoing violence in Marawi City amid a state of martial law prevailing over Mindanao.
The gunman, described to be foreign-looking, stormed into the hotel’s casino early Friday, fired shots and set gaming tables on fire, holed up inside a room on the fifth floor and set himself on fire. He was shot to death by the resort’s security guards.
At least 37 other people died from suffocation as thick smoke billowed through the gaming area.
The Speaker called on the authorities to get their act together and put in place the highest level of security measures to prevent this from happening again.
He urged business establishments to do their share and exhaust all means to ensure the safety of people in places of convergence, including by ensuring their closed-circuit TVs and similar security monitoring equipment were all in good working condition.
“We also urge 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,” he said.
One of the victims who died after inhaling smoke was Elizabeth Panlilio Gonzales, the wife of Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr.
“We commiserate with our colleague and offer prayers on the family’s bereavement. We express our profound sorrow that innocent people, including Mrs. Gonzales, lost their lives in this unspeakable tragedy,” Alvarez said.
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