MANILA – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez still believes what happened on June 2 at Resorts World Manila, where a lone gunman, brandishing a high-powered weapon, torched gaming tables and took P113 million worth of chips, was “an act of terrorism,” the official police conclusion notwithstanding.
In a statement issued hours after NCRPO chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde held a press conference where he presented witnesses and family members of gunman Jessie Javier Carlos, the House Speaker said that Carlos’s act falls within the strict definition of terrorism.
“The ultimate consequence of the attack on Resorts World is an act of terrorism. Let us stick to the definition of terrorism. Anybody with premeditation harms and kills people indiscriminately is a terrorist. Whether or not the perpetrator is a member of a known terrorist organization or a lone wolf acting independently, he is a terrorist. This is happening all over the world.”
He insisted on the terror angle even though police could not find any link between Carlos and any political or extremist group; and Carlos’ family said he had never indicated any interest in those things but was simply addicted to gambling.
Groups and individuals that had quickly pounced on the reported bragging by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that it carried out the attack that killed 38 people, including Carlos, had been criticized for insisting on the terror angle despite the police probers’ initial direction that it was a robbery staged by a mentally unbalanced man.
Albayalde said Sunday Carlos was a former employee of the Department of Finance who was dismissed by the Ombudsman in 2014 for misdeclarations in his State of Assets Liabilities and Networth (SALN).
He was mired in gambling debts and in April was barred from a casino (not Resorts World), on request of his family, after he racked up at least P4 million in debt.
Albayalde made a grim declaration Sunday morning, after revealing Carlos’ identity, that authorities will not allow any group, “local or foreign,” from using the RWM tragedy to further their propaganda, apparently referring to ISIS.
Alvarez, however, insisted late Sunday on his “terrorism” angle. “Our authorities should not lull our people into complacency by dismissing the incident as a common criminal act. Neither should they relax just because they refuse to label the incident as such.
“The harrowing Resorts World incident has shown the unsettling inadequacy of our security measures in dealing with possible terrorist attacks,” said the Speaker’s statement sent to media outlets.
“This should serve as a wake-up call for our police and military authorities to cooperate closely to ensure the safety of the seat of government, business centers and areas of public convergence.
“Likewise, our authorities should ensure that safety measures are in place and security personnel are equipped and adept to deal with emergencies in private establishments.
“Terrorism is global. Thus, we must respond with critical intensity in ensuring the security and safety of the public,” Alvarez concluded.