MANILA – Resorts World Manila casino supervisor Leah Grace Mozo was already working for a luxury cruise ship overseas when she decided to come home to the Philippines to work for the casino resort complex.
At Resorts World, Leah worked alongside her husband, Edner, who also happens to be a casino supervisor handling VIP guests. Although she probably enjoyed a bigger pay in her job at the luxury liner, the prospect of being close to her family may have weighed heavily in Leah’s decision to work for RWM.
Last Friday, a crazed gunman later identified as former Department of Finance personnel Jessie Carlos entered the casino complex and then fired shots and set gaming tables and slot machines on fire. The badly burnt body of Carlos was later found in a room at the Maxims hotel. He apparently committed suicide.
He was not the only casualty of the tragic incident. Leah, 12 other RWM employees and 22 guests were also found dead when the smoke literally cleared.
In an interview with InterAksyon, Leah’s father, retired Philippine National Police senior superintendent Leo Uyvico recalled how he found out about his daughter’s unfortunate fate.
“I usually sleep around 7:30 in the evening. At around 1AM, I usually wake up to go to the toilet then have coffee then tune in the to the radio for the news. When I turned on the radio, the broadcaster was already reporting about the Resorts World incident. The first thing that came to my mind was that my daughter is there,” he shared, speaking in mostly Filipino.
“Her husband then called me to say that Leah has not come out yet. By morning, we heard that there were no casualties but I was beginning to get worried since it was almost 8 o’ clock but my daughter has not come home yet. It was already around 10 when it was confirmed that she was gone.”
When Leah’s body was transferred to St. Therese’s Chapel from Veronica Funeral Homes in Pasay City where it was initially brought, Edner cried hysterically as he still could not make sense of what happened.
Like her fellow employees and the other fallen guests, Leah is said to have died from suffocation as a result of the accumulated smoke from the blaze set by Carlos. Her heavily bruised body, however, suggested that she may also been trampled upon during the ensuing stampede caused by those trying desperately to get out of the building.
Uyvico, a seasoned police officer who was also an officer of the now defunct Philippine Constabulary, believed that a sprinkler malfunction ultimately led to his daughter’s death.
“That building is supposed to have a sprinkler system that will set off an alarm when smoke sets in. That should be automatic but there was no sprinkler. Everyone was also in panic mode, power was turned off so they were trapped,” Uyvico theorized.
In an interview with media immediately following the incident, Resorts World Manila’s chief operating officer Stephen Reilly insisted that the sprinklers did work.
“For the fire safety, our fire safety equipment worked as it should do. Our sprinkler system activated, the issue we actually had was with smoke, not with fire. Unfortunately, those victims suffered from smoke inhalation…There is proper ventilation within the property. Unfortunately, a lot of it, I think, was a degree of panic which I truly understand,” Reilly pointed out.
In any case, Uyvico, his wife Mariquita and the rest of their family are devastated by Leah’s untimely demise. A native of Tacloban City where Leah was born and raised, the elder Uyvico recalled that in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, Leah and her youngest sister Glaiza was worried sick about them.
“They were looking for us in Tacloban. Since we lived in Sagkaan District, they thought we were dead. Leah was a very kind person. We are very sad that this happened,” he lamented.
Leah and Edner had two children, both boys. One is only six years old while the other is just 9 months old. Numerous photos of their family are posted on the couple’s Facebook pages.
Even as investigation into the incident remains ongoing, Resorts World Manila released a statement last Saturday, June 3, where it promised to extend “financial assistance to the victims and their families to address their immediate needs.”
“On top of the funeral and burial assistance that Resorts World Manila will shoulder, we are extending PHP 1 million to the families of the deceased. Nothing can ever replace the lives of our loved ones…we all lost so many lives because of a senseless act. With this financial assistance, we hope that we will be able to somehow help each family hurdle through their needs during this most difficult time,” went the company’s statement.
In his latest Facebook post, Edner said his wife’s remains may be viewed at the St. Peter Chapel of St. Therese Church Shrine in Pasay City until Wednesday, June 7. By Thursday, June 8, the family will travel to Leah’s native Tacloban where she will be buried this Sunday, June 11 at Superior Memorial Garden there.