DOT, Pagcor review hotels’ security measures after casino attack
The attack on Resorts World Manila which left 38 people dead has prompted the Department of Tourism (DOT) to review its accreditation of hotels, restaurants and similar establishments.
At the same time, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) said it would assess how integrated resorts respond to disasters, including fires and quakes, by looking at their security preparedness.
Tourism Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre said on Monday at a press forum that they were closely working with Pagcor and other government agencies to ensure that there would be no repeat of Friday’s tragedy at Resorts World Manila.
“We are working with other agencies to review our accreditation of all tourism-related facilities to make sure that they have a stricter adherence to security… The level of security is what the review might center on,” he told reporters.
On June 2, Jessie Javier Carlos, a heavy gambler who was deep in debt, walked armed into the hotel, fired several shots into the air and set fire to gambling tables in the casino. He later locked himself in a room where he killed himself but not before 37 guests and employees suffocated to death.
Alegre expressed confidence that the incident, as well as the siege of Marawi City and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, would have minimal effects on tourism.
“We are not saying it won’t affect us, but this is a temporary setback. There are some who expressed concern. We understand the initial reaction but we’re confident that we can be ‘business as usual’ and still reach our target,” he said.
The DOT aims to attract 7 million foreign tourists and 67 million local tourists for this year.
He stressed that the review of the DOT accreditation would involve not only Resorts World Manila but other multi-use establishments with integrated hotels, restaurants and casinos, as well as single-use facilities.
“The review may also include imposing additional security requirements these tourism-related facilities will be compelled to follow,” he said.
The DOT is awaiting the final investigation report of the Philippine National Police on the incident, particularly its recommendations.
“[Tourism Secretary Wanda] Teo said she wanted a review and to discuss with hotels, casinos, etc. their security protocol. That facility is multi-use so there are many entrances,” Alegre said.
He added that there were ways to improve security measures “without having to be discourteous or imposing.”
Establishments which fail to comply with requirements or commit violations stand to lose their DOT accreditation.
Pagcor, for its part, will also ask similar integrated resorts where there are government-operated casinos to provide templates on how they deal with security threats and disasters.
It said it would also require Resorts World Manila to submit all footage taken by its surveillance cameras to aid the agency in its investigation of the incident.
“We are looking into their security measures [to see] if there was any leniency or if it was lax, and how they managed the fire situation,” Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo said.
She added that they were reviewing the hotel complex’s contract to operate a casino to determine if there were violations or lapses.
Depending on the gravity of the violations, the disciplinary action may range from a reprimand and payment of damages, suspension of the license, to cancellation of the license to operate a casino.
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