MANILA — Justice Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a DNA examination of the lone gunman responsible for the attack at the Resorts World Manila in Pasay City that killed 38 individuals, including the gunman himself.
According to Aguirre the test seeks to erase the doubts on the identity of Jessie Carlos, Filipino, 42, separated, and a former employee of the Department of Finance (DOF).
”I ordered the NBI to conduct DNA examination on the remains of the gunman to erase doubts on the identity established by the PNP through the family,” Aguirre said.
Carlos’ identity was confirmed by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde after his family reached out to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and confirmed that he was the man shown in the footage taken by security cameras of the incident last June 2.
According to his immediate family, his being hooked in casino gambling made him heavily indebted.
On Sunday, Aguirre signed Department Order (DO) No. 354 instructing the NBI to conduct an investigation to determine whether there is criminal, civil, administrative culpability of any agency, office and instrumentality of the government; and whether there is criminal, civil, administrative culpability of the owners, managers and employees of Resorts World Manila.
“We need to know and to determine the responsibility and the liability, if any, of anyone which made possible the tragic events at Resorts World Manila. Whoever is responsible for allowing this tragedy to occur should be made accountable under our laws and before our courts,” Aguirre said in a statement sent to reporters.
“We will be remiss in our duties if we fail to do so. The Filipino people, the families of the victims and the memories of the innocent victims and tragedies like these should not be allowed to happen again,” the DoJ chief said.
“The ultimate goal is to file appropriate charges, if any, as the evidence may warrant,” he added.
Meanwhile, Aguirre also said that the legal opinion of former Justice Secretary and now detained Senator Leila De Lima which states enjoined the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) from implementing the country’s fire laws on Resorts World Manila and other casinos and instead gave such jurisdiction to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) will be under investigation.
”Hindi ko naman sinabi na liable siya eh. Sabi ko lang, dapat imbestigahan ang epekto ng kanyang DO o nung opinion niya sa pangyayari na yun. Ngayon, may nagtext sa akin kung paano magiging liable. Is De Lima liable? No! sabi kong ganyan, unless, it will shown by evidence na merong illegal consideration in the issuance of the DO, of the opinion,” he told reporters covering DoJ in phone interview.
Aguirre disclosed that De Lima’s legal opinion was to blame for the deaths as it prevented the BFP from taking implementing the country’s fire laws on hotel casinos.
“Because of the said opinion, it is PEZA, a government agency without competence and experience in fire protection, who was given the authority to implement the Fire Code and its implementing rules & regulations respecting PEZA registered companies like the casinos. Such authority could not even be found in the enabling law, RA 7916,” he noted.
It can be recalled that most of the fatalities died due to suffocation after the gunman burned gaming tables and carpets before burning himself to death inside one of the hotel’s rooms.
When asked if categorically say that De Lima, or the legal opinion she issued, was partly to blame for the Resorts World tragedy, Aguirre answered “Well, yes, kung it will be shown by evidence na, that there was no certification from the Bureau of Fire Protection because of the said legal opinion. Meaning to say, that hindi nakialam ang Bureau of Fire Protection because ang pinamamahalaan dito ay yung PEZA, wala namang competence, wala namang experience sa trabaho na ito.”