THE lone gunman behind the Resorts World Manila attack that killed 37 last Friday, June 2 was a “heavily indebted” gambler, according to the Philippine police.
In a press briefing on Sunday, June 4, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Oscar Albayalde identified the gunman as 42-year-old Jessie Carlos, who was a dismissed Department of Finance (DOF) official.
According to Albayalde, Carlos racked up about P4 million-worth of debt at a certain casino he frequented, which police declined to name.
The NCRPO chief later noted that the said casino was not Resorts World Manila.
“He is heavily indebted due to being hooked on casino gambling, according to his immediate family,” Albayalde said. “This became the cause of misunderstanding with his wife and parents. He has a bank account with an outstanding debt of P4 million and several other non-bank related debt.”
He said Carlos was forced to sell a property in Batangas province, including a vehicle, on account of his debts.
Carlos’ gambling problem prompted his family to ask state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to ban him from its casinos.
As per the request of his family, Pagcor had banned Carlos from all of its casinos since April 3.
“This could have probably triggered him, kaya galit na galit siya sa (that’s why he’s so angry at the) casino,” Albayalde added.
At midnight on Friday, Carlos stormed into Resorts World Manila in Pasay City with an M4 carbine and two 1.5-liter bottles of gasoline. He fired shots inside the casino, burned down gambling tables, and stole an about 113 million-worth of casino chips.
While reports claimed Carlos didn’t directly shoot any individual, officials said the incident led to the deaths of 13 employees and 24 guests who mostly died from suffocation. Sixty-seven others were reportedly injured.
Authorities said Carlos died after setting himself on fire and shooting himself in the head.
The NCRPO chief maintained that the incident was not an act of terrorism, brushing off speculations that the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group was behind the attack.
“We reiterate that this is not an act of terrorism but this incident is confined to the act of one man alone,” Albayalde said.
Earlier, United States terrorism monitor SITE Intelligence Group said an IS Filipino operative “stated that the group is responsible for the attack” at Resorts World Manila.
“We have and will continue to base our pronouncements on facts and evidence properly gathered,” Albayalde added. “We will not allow people or any threat group to use this situation to advance their propaganda or personal causes whether foreign or local. This is our duty to the Filipino people and to the international community.”
Abayalde declared the attack as ‘case closed’ as far as the suspect is concerned.
He, however, noted that investigations are still ongoing, particularly on the possible liabilities of Resorts World Manila management with regard to security.
Dismissed from service
In a separate statement, the DOF confirmed that Carlos was its former employee.
DOF said Carlos was a tax specialist at the One-Stop Shop Tax and Duty Drawback Center, but was dismissed by the Ombudsman in 2014 in connection with issues concerning his Statement of Assets, Liabilities Net Worth (SALN).
In 2011, the Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) filed a complaint against Carlos over his “failure to disclose truthfully all his assets in his SALN.”
“In a 17-page decision received on April 25, 2014, the Ombudsman dismissed Carlos for Grave Misconduct and Gross Neglect of Duty for not declaring his house and lot in Manila in his 2003 to 2006 SALNs, his Toyota Innova SUV in his 2007 SALN and his business interest in his 2010 SALN,” a May 2014 statement posted on the Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) website read.
It also cited Carlos’ “huge loans” and purchasing of proper properties higher than his total gross income.
“The failure to declare some of his assets at the time these assets were actually acquired and/or registered under his name and his scheme of claiming several indebtedness without giving particulars i.e. from whom he acquired these enormous loans can also reflect his evil desire to conceal his ill-gotten wealth” it further read, quoting the Ombudsman.
De Lima to be included in probe
According to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Senator Leila De Lima will be included in the separate National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) investigation into the Resorts World attack.
In a radio interview, Aguirre took note that De Lima, who was then the justice secretary, issued a legal opinion in 2014 that banned the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) from implementing fire safety laws and regulations in Resorts World Manila and other casinos.
Aguirre then said that De Lima instead gave the jurisdiction Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) despite its “lack of capability to impose fire regulations.”
“Because of the said opinion, it is PEZA, a government agency without competence and experience in fire protection, who was given the authority to implement the Fire Code and its implementing rules and regulations [including] PEZA registered companies like the casinos. Such authority could not even be found in the enabling law, RA 7916,” Aguirre told DZMM.
He, however, clarified that he is not blaming De Lima for the recent incident in Resorts World Manila.
“I did not say that she is liable. What I want is to investigate the effect of her legal opinion,” Aguirre said. “Is De Lima liable? No, unless, it will be shown by evidence that there was illegal consideration in the issuance of the legal opinion.”
Pagcor announced that it would also conduct a separate investigation regarding the possible lapses in the casino’s security measures.
“We’re looking into: One, their security systems. If there was leniency, laxity or negligence. And two, of managing the fire situation,” Pagcor chairperson Andrea Domingo said, adding that RWM might lose its franchise if found negligent.”
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