PROBE 3

Surigao del sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel wants the House to probe  possible lootting of the  valuables of the victims of the Resorts World Manila Incident.

during today’s joint hearing of the committees on games and amusements, tourism and public order and safety, Pimentel revealed that Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Dong Gonzales’s wife Elizabeth, was a victim of looting. Pimentel says Gonzales told him that his wife’s rolex and jewelry,  credit and ATM cards are missing. 25 thousand pesos was also withdrawn from the accounts of Gonzales’ wife on June 5, days after her death.

Pimentel also recalled that in an earlier hearing, they alreday heard reports of possible looting.

during the hearing, Pimentel asked Resorts World Manila President Kingson Sian if they have lost any of their properties or cash but Sian says that they have not yet retaken control of the casino as it is still a crime scene.

Public Order and Safety Committee Chair Romeo Acop said that MMDA and Resorts World Manila Personnel were the first to enter the area of the victims.

NCRPO Chief Oscar Albayalde however told lawmakers that the personal belongings of the victims were turned over to investigators and the investigators should be able to return the personal belongings of the victims to the family.

Earlier in the hearing, the chairperson of Resorts World Manila’s biggest stockholder, Travellers International Hotel  Group’s David Chua Ming Huat,  expressed sympathiesto the families of those who perished and were injured even as he maintained that RWM is also a victim. “while we grieve with the affected families, let it not be forgotten that we are victims too. this was an attack on our home and we lost people who are dear to us. we have had no time to grieve as our priority thus far has been to take care of the deceased, their families and the injured.”

Sian told lawmakers that the 35 injured in the incident have all availed of the 500 thousand pesos in financial assistance that was given out by RWM. However, of the 37 killed, 6 have yet to take the 1M given out by RWM as  they are still grieving. RWM is also funding the education of the chidlren of the deceased.

Chua also acknowleged that the RWM incident is “a tragic wake up call not just for us but for the entire country.” Chua assured lawmakers that “safety and securuty are key priorities of RWM…we will never comnpromise safety and security because it may impact on our stakeholders.”

upon questionning by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas, Chua assured lawmakers that RWM will be better prepared to handle similar situations in the future. Farinas also got PAFCOR, PEZA, the local government of Pasay and the Bureau of Fire Protection to make sure that RWM is safe before it is reopened.

PAGCOR Chair Andrea Domingo reveals that while the RWM incident did not affect the interest in casinos in the country, Gaming Revenues have lost  RWM’s contribution of some 325M. In a statement, Domingo said, “after evaluating the revenues gained by the other casinos from June 1 to 4, 2017, it appears that the incident at the RW did not have a significant effect on the attendance in other casinos. The absence of Operations at RW is exacting a toll on PAGCOR’s revenues as we will not be able to collect gaming and franchise taxes from RW. However the revenue share of PAGCOR from RW which averages from 12M to 14M per day is lost.”

Domingo said since the incident, there has been an increase in requests for blacklisting from casinos by 10%.

Games and Amusements Committee Chair Gus Tambunting asked PAGCOR to use their powers to issue casino licenses to make sure casinos are well secured. Tambunting wants all casinos in the country to brief the committee in executive session about their security preparations.

Chua also apologized for failing to attend the June 14 hearing of the committee. “Due to short notice, i was not able to make he trup. i understand that our counsel immeditaly informed this honorable body of my inability to attend as i live abroad.”

Also during the hearing, RWM assistant director for security Jun Quinol explained the CCTV footage of him running away from gunman Jessie Carlos in a stairway. Quinol explained he Carlos from a distance so he sought cover. Quinol admits he had already gone home which is why in the CCTV footage, he was wearing slippers. he told lawmakers he used a firearm of Lanting Security. Quinol explained that he and Bernard Cajigas, hotel security team head, returned to the RWM after hearing about the incident.

Cajigas also told lawmakers he was not sure who shot him as he sustained a gunshot wound in his torso.Pasay Police Chief Dionisio Bartolome said the incident was a misencounter since there were 2 teams—1 coming from the front and another from the back.

Resorts World Manila is asking the PAGCOR to lift the suspension of its casino license  and allow them to reopen following the deadly attack last June 2.

This was dicslosed by PAGCOR Chairman Andrea Domingo to the joint hearing of 3 congressional committees investigating the RWM Incident.

Domingo told lawmakers that RWM President Kingson Sian already talked to her about the matter but she advised him to make the request formal so that PAGCOR can then come up with a checklist of requirements. PAGCOR’s Board  will then consider the request once the requirements have been complied with.

Domingo says PAGCOR no longer intends to use the 2nd floor of the casino where the deadly attack ocurred and where the dead victims were found.

Sian meantime told lawmakers that some P300M worth of casino chips are unaccounted for.

earlier lawmakers asked RWM how much in terms of cash and valuables did the casino lose, following claims of looting of the personal belongings of the victims.

RWM Security Chief Armeen Gomez came clean to a joint congressional committee probing the June 2 RWM incident that he is not using his real name.

Gomez told the body upon questionning that Armeen Alain Gomez is the name of his brother and that he is in fact named Armenio  Gomez Jr.

Gomez didnt give details except to say that he has been an orphan since age 9 and that he is a survivor in his younger years. he claims to have committed lapses in judgment which he would rather answer in a separate forum. he invoked his right against self incrimination. Gomez said he had lapses dating 20 years back.

RWM Chief Legal Officer  Georgina Alvarez told the committee that Gomez was hired even if he   is not a fresh graduate. Alvarez said Gomez came with recommendations from character references. Alvarez however said that the committee heard of the misrepresentations on the first day of the committee, when it was revealed he is not a  college graduate. Alvarez says that under the company code of conduct, Alvarez was asked to explain why the company should take action against him. Alvarez says there will be an administrative hearing and decision.

Despite the revelations, Alvarez says they stand by Gomez’s performance in connection with the June 2 incident, insisting this is separate from the misrepresnetation. Alvarez says Gomez was able to trigger protocols, coordinate with AFP and PNP.  Gomez added  Gomez has good grades in his performance appraisal.

Gomez’s qualifications came under question because of the lapses in RWM’s response to the attack.

PAGCOR won’t object to pending congressional proposals to collect entrance fees for casinos.

A proponent of a bill seeking to impose a 3000 peso entrance fee for Filipinos, Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano sought PAGCOR’s comment during he joint hearing of 3 congressional committees investigating the RWM Incident.

PAGCOR Chair Andrea Domingo said they have no objections however she points out that the proposal will wipe out the entire mass-market of players.

DOmingo recognized that this would be a good deterrent for Filipinos who cannot afford to gamble. However Domingo also said that there should also be an effective campaign for curbing illegal gambling.

Albano believes his bill has President Duterte’s support.

Domingo informed the body that casinos currently collect a P100 entrance fee, to which Albano responded that he has never paid it.

Domingo then reminded him that government officials are not allowed by law to play in the casinos.

Albano however maintained that elected officials are not covered by the prohibition.

Under Presidential Decree 1067B as amended by PD 1869 or the PAGCOR franchise, the following persons are not allowed to play in casinos:

(4)    Persons not allowed to play. —chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

(a)    Government officials connected directly with the operation of the Government or any of its agencies;chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

(b)    Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including the Army, Navy,r Force or Constabulary; and 

(c)    Persons under 21 years of age or students of any school, college or university in the Philippines. 

From these are excepted the personnel employed by the casinos, special guests, or those who at the discretion of the Management may be allowed to stay in the premises.  chanroblesvirtualawlibrary