Solons dig deeper into RW attack
LAWMAKERS on Monday vowed to pass a bill that will strengthen the internal security units of casinos by having those registered with the Philippine National Police Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies.
The committees on public order and safety, games and amusements and tourism led, respectively, by Reps. Romeo Acop of Antipolo City, Gus Tambunting of Parañaque City, and Lucy Torres-Gomez of Leyte will resume Wednesday their probe into the Resorts World Manila tragedy.
Thirty-seven people died of smoke inhalation on June 2, 2017 when a gunman entered the casino and set fire on the tables before locking himself in a room on the fifth floor and committed suicide.
The committees expect the presence of RWM chairman David Chua Ming Huat after he was subpoenaed upon the motion of House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, who was piqued by Chua’s absence in last week’s hearing.
Fariñas said Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez would have wanted businessman and RW owner Andrew Tan to appear in the hearing but it turned out that Chua is the chairman of the corporation.
During the two hearings, the lawmakers agreed that the tragedy had put the competence of RWM’s internal security under question.
Acop proposed to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to register the internal security units of all licensed casino operators with the PNP-SOSIA.
“If we come up with legislation, would Pagcor not disagree with this?” Acop said.
Pagcor vice president Roderick Consolacion supported Acop’s proposal.
“Definitely not, your honor,” he said.
Acop, a lawyer and former head of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, also asked about the firearms inside room 510 of RWM.
Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon of Muntinlupa City had inquired about the supposed misencounter between the PNP Special Weapons and Tactics team and WM Special Reaction Team leader Bernard Cajigas.
Biazon cited the RWM manual on the “procedures that are to be followed by its personnel whenever law enforcement personnel enter its premises during a crisis.”
Biazon said RWM should perform its responsibility of conducting drills in accordance with what was written in its manual.
“If they had been doing their jobs in training their personnel and drilling them properly, then that misencounter would not have happened,” he said.
Biazon also inquired about the fire safety inspection certificate issued to RWM. According to lawyer Maria Georgina Alvarez, RWM chief legal officer, the valid FSIC issued to their establishment extended to their casino.
However, Biazon noted that “on more than one instance, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority had said that their fire safety inspection certificate does not cover the casino.”
Moreover, Peza head Charito Plaza supported this by stating that casinos may not be accredited under Peza’s mandate, and such also applied to Solaire Resort and Casino.
Biazon said the issue had raised confusion as to who had the authority to implement the fire code that Peza was arrogating upon itself.
“It is our firm belief that the Bureau of Fire has the authority,” Biazon said.
He said Peza was prohibited from issuing a FSIC without a memorandum of agreement with the BFP.