MANILA – Police are standing pat on their theory that robbery, not terrorism, was the main motive of the lone perpetrator of the June 2 midnight attack on Resorts World Manila that killed 38 people, based on testimonies and physical evidence.
“If he really is a terrorist with all his ammunition, he could have shot everybody. He is even changing magazines. He changed three times. He could have killed 100 people. He did not hurt anybody, he just burned the casino. It could be a diversionary [tactic] to escape. We really do not know,” NCRPO chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde, said Saturday.
President Rodrigo Duterte also backed the police line that the RWM incident was not an act of terror, much less the handiwork of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Speaking at Camp Pedro Evangelista in Davao Saturday, Duterte said: “That is not the work of the ISIS. The work of the ISIS is cruel and brutal.”
Duterte said the man seemed mentally unstable, because he targeted getting the casino plastic chips, which he could not use anyway. “Hindi yun ISIS. Bakit mo nakawin ang plastic na yun..alam mo naman hindi mo magamit. Loko, loko yun…”
Meanwhile, Southern Police District head, Chief Supt. Tomas Apolinario, was quoted on radio saying they already have the identity of the suspect but are not revealing it meantime.
When Albayalde was talking to reporters Saturday, the efforts to ascertain the perpetrator’s identity were still ongoing and the identity was not yet known. He said “that would be part of investigation — the DNA, dental, although we do not have the fingerprints anymore. We were not able to get IDs because [he was] totally burned. We got a sample of his blood. The bloodstains on the stairwell… we have also conducted an autopsy.”
Police, meanwhile, have interviewed the taxi driver who picked up the suspect in San Lazaro Manila.
Suspect was alone, spoke Tagalog – taxi driver
According to Albayalde, the taxi driver said the suspect was “alone at the time he boarded the taxi; until he exited he was alone. From footage all the while, nag-iisa po siya.”
The suspect addressed the taxi driver in Tagalog, said Albayalde.
Probers initially surmised the man might be a foreigner because witnesses at Resorts World had heard him speak in English. He was also tall and fair-skinned.
“Talagang maputi, malaking tao, parang mestiso,” said Albayalde.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) continued its ocular inspection of the place. It was learned earlier that the sprinklers has worked, but could not put out the fire that the suspect started on the second floor gaming and dining areas.
“Based on the footage ang daming sinindihan. Ang sprinkler system di naman matagal operation, magbibigay tubig from the firefighter para di lumaki apoy. Sa dami ng sinindihan niya, baka hindi nasama sa coverage ng sprinkler system kaya mausok [Footage showed the suspect set fire to many places. The sprinkler system worked, but because he started a fire in several spots, some of them might not have been covered by the sprinklers; that accounts for the thick smoke],” explained Senior Supt. Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan Tiu, BFP’s regional director for NCR.
Meanwhile, Resorts World management released the CCTV footage covering the period of the attack past midnight Friday.