Thursday, 15 June 2017

PHILIPPINES: Serious Security Lapses At Casino Contributed To Deaths Of 37

MalacaƱang believes that tourists will go back to the Philippines shores anew once the government succeeds in eliminating ISIS-inspired Maute forces in Marawi City.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a statement on Monday indicated that it was not surprised that some tourists decided not to come to the Philippines at all because of martial law in Mindanao.

“We understand the concern of foreign tourists. Safety is on top of their minds. As you would recall, travel advisories from different embassies have been issued after martial law was declared in the whole island of Mindanao,” Abella said in a statement.

“We remain optimistic that things would bounce back once the peace, order and normalcy have been restored in Marawi,” he added.

Tourism Sec. Wanda Teo on Sunday said that many tourists bound for Mindanao cancelled their trips after martial law was declared.

But she also quoted a regional director from Cagayan de Oro City saying that the tourists were more afraid of the ISIS.

The Tourism department is yet to release statistics on how the Marawi City crisis and the martial law declaration affected the arrival of tourists in the Philippines.

In April, Teo said that the Philippines could exceed its target of seven million foreign tourists in 2017.

Meanwhile, Serious security lapses at a Philippine casino contributed to the deaths of 37 people when an assailant set fire to gaming rooms, the industry regulator said Friday as it suspended the operator's license.

The armed attacker, identified by police as gambling addict Jessie Javier Carlos, entered the Resorts World Manila casino and hotel complex on June 2 with an M4 automatic rifle and a bottle of petrol.

Carlos set alight a number of different rooms in the complex, claiming the lives of 37 people who police said died after becoming trapped in the fires. Dozens more were injured in a stampede to escape.

Gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) said Friday it had suspended the casino and gaming license of Travellers International Hotel Group, owner and operator of Resorts World.

"The said suspension will remain until RWM rectifies its serious security lapses and deficiencies – which caused not only the loss of lives and damaged properties – but also placed the Philippine gaming, tourism and hospitality industries in bad light," the statement said.

Carlos, 43, was found dead about five hours after initially entering the casino in a hotel room that was part of the complex. Police said he committed suicide by setting fire to himself.

Lawmakers this week slammed the casino management for alleged lax security at the complex and questioned the competence of its security chief.

A widely circulated security video showed the attacker easily gaining entry into the complex despite having an assault rifle.

The attack happened as Philippine security forces were battling Islamist militants who had seized parts of a city in the south of the country, triggering fears it could be a terror strike.

But police insisted Carlos was not a terrorist, rather a deranged gambling addict. Carlos's parents spoke to the media to confirm he was a gambling addict and ask for forgiveness.

Resorts World spokespeople were unavailable for comment on Friday afternoon.
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