MANILA, Philippines – US President Donald Trump on Thursday, June 1 (Friday, June 2, Manila), said they are “closely monitoring” the shooting inside a posh complex in the Philippines’ capital Manila.
Trump, who made the statement before announcing his country’s shock withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement, tagged the incident at the Resorts World Manila in Pasay City as a “terrorist attack,” though Philippine authorities said it was likely a robbery attempt.
“I would like to begin by addressing the terrorist attack in Manila. We’re closely monitoring the situation and I will continue to give updates [if] anything happens during this period of time, but it’s really very sad as to what’s going on throughout the world with terror,” Trump said.
“Our thoughts and our prayers are with all of those affected,” he added.
Gunshots were heard and a fire broke at Resorts World Manila in Pasay City past midnight Friday, June 2.
Within hours of the first gunshot, the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist organizations.
“An Islamic State (IS) Filipino operative who provides daily updates on the ongoing clashes in Marawi stated that the group is responsible for the attack at Resorts World Manila in Pasay, Philippines,” SITE said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), however, downplayed this claim, and revealed that they were looking at robbery as motive instead.
PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said the lone gunman was already dead after he burned himself inside a hotel room.
After the shooting, the US embassy in the Philippines released an emergency message to Americans urging them to “exercise caution.”
“Exercise caution and review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Heed any instructions given by local authorities,” the post read.
Friday’s attack happened as government troops continue to battle local terrorists in Marawi City, in the island of Mindanao.
The clashes, now on its 11th day, prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao. (READ: TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)
Duterte had mulled expanding martial rule to the Visayas and Luzon if the threat of ISIS persists.
Days later, Duterte modified his position, saying he would be “forced” to suspend the privilege of the writ – instead of declaring martial law – in the Visayas should terrorists move there.
The 1987 Constitution provides that martial law should not exceed 60 days. Any extension has to be approved by Congress. – Rappler.com