MANILA - The crisis that law enforcers responded to at Resorts World 2 years seemed no different from what they were trained to handle -- except this time, they were facing one man.
Jessie Carlos, a former government employee with an alleged gambling addiction fired shots and set the casino floor of the casino resort ablaze, killing 37 people. He took his own life as police closed in on him.
Police disclosed Carlos' identity 2 days after the attack, dispelling speculation that it was the handiwork of Islamic State-inspired militants.
Troops were unfamiliar with Resorts World because uniformed personnel are not allowed inside casinos and hotels, said Chief Supt. Tomas Apolinario Jr., director of the Southern Police District.
It was good that authorities arrived quickly at the scene and that they communicated with Resorts World’s security managers before, he said.
Apolinario however admitted that the response could have been quicker if everyone on the ground knew what each of them was supposed to do.
Crisis-response procedures were not always cascaded down to the rank and file, he said.
"Even if you are a PO1 or a PO2, you should know what to do when you are tapped to be the incident commander," Apolinario said.
According to standard operating procedure, the first responders are initially designated as ground commanders until a superior officer arrives, he said.
Two days before the first anniversary of the Resorts World Attack, police in Paranaque City held a simulation exercise at the City of Dreams, another entertainment complex.
The drill was aimed at stopping an active shooter, which was complete with special forces and emergency responders. Such exercises recently included "lone wolf" scenarios, or those staged by a single attacker.
To avoid charging blindly as in the Resorts World attack, part of the new standard operating procedure is making floor plans and security cameras readily accessible to authorities.
Apolinario said Resorts World attack also showed the need for both police and firefighters to constantly upgrade new equipment.
Firefighters had difficulty getting to the most affected part of the casino even after the gunfire subsided. This was why it took hours for fatalities to be discovered.
Readiness in areas like Resorts World is crucial for the SPD, which is home to other major entertainment centers.
Establishments in the area have revised their security protocols after the attack, including having tactical teams on standby to respond immediately to any situation.
The SPD is also developing an expanded operations manual for crisis situations which would lay out detailed roles for each responder, he said.