More security lapses uncovered as House probes Resorts World attack

MANILA, Philippines – More scenarios indicating a lack of coordination between law enforcement authorities and hotel security were unraveled as the House of Representatives held its 2nd hearing on the deadly Resorts World Manila attack on Wednesday, June 14.

The House committees on games and amusements, public order and safety, and tourism continued their joint investigation, in aid of legislation, into the shooting and arson attack of lone gunman Jessie Carlos, who caused the deaths of 38 people including himself. (READ: 3 questions answered at House probe into Resorts World attack)

Resorts World Manila security personnel admitted before lawmakers that they vacated the two CCTV surveillance rooms inside the hotel-casino by 12:20 am, just 13 minutes after the attack began.

The hotel security then transferred to their back-up CCTV room at the adjacent Remington Hotel. 

But the management only informed the police about this back-up surveillance room hours after the attack, which meant troops on the ground had no real-time information to help them locate Carlos' whereabouts. 

Had the surveillance team stayed in their posts, they could have served as the eyes and ears of police and hotel security going around the halls of Resorts World Manila.

A "misencounter" also occurred between a team of police officers and hotel security guard Bernard Cajigas, who was mistaken for a gunman because he was wearing civilian clothes as he helped in the search operations.

A quick gunfight between the police and Cajigas ensued, with the latter receiving a non-fatal shot on the right hip.

Resorts World Manila chief operating officer Stephen Reilly told lawmakers that the misencounter proves there was confusion among the security forces on the ground. He earlier admitted that the hotel-casino had "lapses in security," allowing Carlos to attack the premises.

"I think it does show there [was] a degree of confusion between the groups on the ground, the communication between the troops on the ground," said Reilly. 

During the hearing, Resorts World Manila president Kingson Sian had also presented new footage showing how Carlos left a bag of bullets on top of a burning casino table. (READ: '300 rounds' of gunfire during Resorts World attack

The heat caused the bullets to explode on their own, Sian said, likely making the trapped victims assume there was more than one gunman. Sian previously said the victims decided to stay in the rooms because they were afraid to be caught in the gunfire.

House games and amusements committee chairperson Gustavo Tambunting, meanwhile, hit Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa for initially telling reporters there was only one casualty – Carlos – at 8 am following the attack on June 2. 

This information turned out to be false because National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Oscar Albayalde later said they discovered 38 bodies inside Resorts World Manila, including the gunman.

The 3 House committees will continue the investigation on June 21, when businessman David Chua is expected to testify after being issued a subpoena to appear before the lawmakers. 

Chua is the chairman of Travellers International Hotel Group Incorporated, which owns and operates Resorts World Manila. The Hong Kong resident already left the Philippines on June 11 before receiving the House committees' invitation to appear before lawmakers on Wednesday. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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