It is final and the verdict is out. Terrorism is not what killed 37 employees, gamblers and guests in Resorts World. It was the morbid fear of ISIS. A woman saw a hooded man with a rifle and the cried ISIS!. The same way Rappler in a kneejerk judgment pinned ISIS on its wall while covering the unraveling of events that happened in the gambling mecca.
Perhaps it was because the victims have seen too much of the unexpurgated and gory scenes of captives being decapitated in the Maute ISIS siege of Marawi which were posted on Facebook. When they heard someone yelled ISIS and seeing what Rappler permanently pinned on its domain, that sent the 37 cowering in fear and hid in a crowded room. They’d rather die of suffocation than be decapitated.
It turned out the indiscriminate firing was not aimed at anyone. It was carried out by a lone desperate gambler who can hardly aim his gun on a person. While he has gone bonkers over his millions of loses in gambling he had also lost control of his mental faculties and decided to end his life in the most bizarre fashion. He burned the gambling table and the slot machines and the thick carpet where too often in the past he walked his way to win over the dealer and then later to his perdition. He planned his death wish. Who knows he had wanted to impart a lesson to those who, like him, are hooked to gambling?
To let that lesson sink he bathed himself in gas, set himself on fire and, while burning, with his remaining strength and consciousness shot himself to death. If all he wanted was to end his life, he could have done it in his home where his family had deserted him. Or, simply jump in the murky water of Pasig. No, he opted to do his final act in the casino where his misfortunes started. He was not a terrorist, not an ISIS as ISIS and Rappler had claimed he was. Jessie J. Carlos was an inveterate, compulsive and a gambling addict.
While he caused the commotion and set Resorts World partially on fire, he actually did not shoot anyone. Yet, 38 people died, including himself. Until his last breath, Carlos may have thought he sufficiently and effectively delivered a message about what brought him to his madness and death. While he was in agony and burning Carlos may have managed to smile with the thought that he never killed anyone but himself.
But who should therefore answer for those who died?
The owner and management of the casino and the security detail must be liable. It looked like the security details were the first to run. The firemen acted too slow and were taking their time as if eternity was on their side. In the video taken, while some people were exiting from the main entrance, firemen can be seen “strolling” like it was moonlight night. The same video monitors showed that only one man was leisurely taking his time setting two baccarat tables on fire. AT this point it wouldn’t need a James Bond to know that only one suspect was involved. This therefore begs the question: Where were the security personnel and the policemen when Rome was burning? Why did it take the firemen, with all their gears, eternity to check on rooms and closets? Had they done what standard procedures dictate maybe those who have lost consciousness because of suffocation may have been resuscitated.
Laxity, vulnerability and failures are what describe the deathly fiasco. Employees who died obviously do not know where the nearest exits are located. Security personnel were also in limbo and saved themselves first. Management instinct of self-preservation worked but only to recover the chips.
What transpired at Resorts World Casino is an expensive lesson not only for other gaming joints but for hotels, restos, convention centers, theaters, malls and sports and entertainment arenas.
On the other hand, those with symptoms of gambling addiction, better put on the brakes, shift to other entertainments, go on a cruise (but skip the casinos) a family vacation and some . You will lose nothing but your slim figure but gain affection, closeness and the gift of love. Off the cellphones and communicate. You not only save on batteries but maybe your family and life.
(Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan)