MANILA, Philippines – The suspect in the Resorts World Manila attack had been a "longtime guest" of the casino hotel and was already "familiar" with the security personnel there, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) told Rappler on Friday, June 2.
BFP public information chief Ian Manalo also said there was clearly a "security lapse" since the suspect was able to sneak in high-powered firearms, contradicting the claim of Resorts World Manila chief operating officer Stephen Reilly.
Firemen rushed to the scene after the suspect reportedly poured gasoline on casino tables and set them on fire. Most of the 37 confirmed dead were suffocated, according to authorities.
"Naka-check-in siya doon sa 5th floor, matagal siyang guest doon kaya naisisimple niya.... May kuwarto siya doon, inonti-onti niya siguro 'yung inano niya," Manalo said, citing the joint investigation the BFP did with Scene of the Crime Operatives of the Philippine National Police.
(He was checked-in at the 5th floor for a long time. He was a longtime guest, so he could sneak in [weapons].... He had a room there, so he probably brought [his weapons] in one by one.)
Manalo also said the closest motive that authorities see is that the gunman was retaliating for "losing a lot" from gambling.
He said investigators alleged that the suspect lost as much as "one hundred million [pesos]," an amount they have yet to confirm.
Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler
According to Manalo, the suspect went down from his room to the casino and "poured bullets on top of the gambling tables." He then poured gasoline, and set them on fire, immediately frightening people on the scene.
They suspected the reason people opted to hide was because the gunman was carrying a rifle. Manalo said, however, that they have not found bodies with gunshot wounds. He said their investigation supports the statements of the police and hotel management that the victims suffocated.
"Iniisa-isa ang katawan. In plain view, mukhang lahat ng namatay, by suffocation. In plain view, makikita mo hindi siya namatay sa sunog, hindi nasunog, hindi natosta," Manalo said.
(They are going through the bodies one by one. In plain view, they look like they were suffocated. In plain view, you can see that they did not die from burns.)
Manalo also said the gunman burned the "BMW car prize" on display, causing the smoke in the area to thicken further.
When the gunman was already being pursued, according to Manalo, the suspect went up to his room, set himself on fire, and shot himself.
In a press conference, Southern Police District chief Anton Apolinario disclosed that they already have a person of interest in their custody.
He also said they have the identity of the suspect, but declined to disclose it so as not to compromise the investigation. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.