After casino attack, security chief urges public to 'stay calm, avoid rumors'

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 02 2017 11:25 AM | Updated as of Jun 02 2017 01:13 PM

After casino attack, security chief urges public to 'stay calm, avoid rumors' 1
A guest is rescued from inside the Resorts World Manila on Friday after a lone gunman fired his weapon and set fire to casino tables causing panic among guests. Photo by George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Friday asked the public to stay calm and avoid spreading rumors about terrorism in the wake of the shooting and fire incident at Resorts World Manila.

In a statement, Esperon said while the government was not discounting the possibility of a terror attack in Metro Manila, the public should not let itself be unwittingly used to spread terror rumors.

"That's why security forces had been on high alert. Let us be calm but at same time be alert, ready to help our security forces," Esperon said in a statement.

"Let us not be unwitting tools of terror by spreading false rumors, like claiming that the Resorts World [incident] is terror - related. Such claims and announcements don't help," he added.

Some 34 bodies were found in at least two floors of the casino complex, following an attack by a supposedly lone heavily-armed suspect, who later committed suicide.

Malacañang said authorities were initially looking at the shooting incident as an "isolated" robbery case.

"We advise our people to refrain from going to the area or its vicinity. Injured persons are still being evacuated from an earlier stampede," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

The Philippine National Police already ruled out terrorism as the motive behind the shooting rampage.

"Hindi ito act of terror. Wala 'yung elemento ng violence, threat, at intimidation that leads to terrorism," PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters.

(This was not an act of terror. There was no element of violence, threat or intimidation that leads to terrorism.)

He added: "'Yung guwardiya na humabol sa kanya, hinarang siya, hindi niya sinaktan."

After casino attack, security chief urges public to 'stay calm, avoid rumors' 2
The burnt remains of the still unknown gunman found inside one of the rooms after his suicide in the casino-hotel. Photo by SPD Dir Tomas Apolinario

Dela Rosa said the man, who appeared to be acting alone, walked into one of the gambling rooms and fired the rifle at a large television screen, then poured gasoline onto a gambling table and set it on fire.

He said the man then fired again at a stock room containing gambling chips and filled a backpack with them.

Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said the gunman had tried to steal 113 million pesos ($2.3 million) worth of gambling chips, although he left the backpack on the ground near the stock room.

After firing shots, burning casino tables, and ransacking the casino's chip room, the gunman locked himself in a room in the Maxim's Hotel where he burned himself, Dela Rosa said.