MANILA - The brazen attack on Resorts World Manila that claimed the lives of 38 people on Friday sent shock waves through the Philippines, with lawmakers calling on authorities and private establishments to beef up security measures to prevent similar incidents from happening.
"We call on the Philippine National Police and other concerned authorities to exert all efforts to get to the bottom of this," Sen. Grace Poe said in a statement.
Poe assured the victims of government's help and likewise urged business establishments to enforce strict security measures for the safety of their clients.
"Nakikiramay tayo sa kanilang pamilya. Hindi dapat ito ang naging kapalaran ng mga biktima na naroon lamang upang magtrabaho o maglibang at magpahinga kasama ng kanilang pamilya," she said.
Aside from Poe, fellow Senators JV Ejercito, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian and Gregorio Honasan took to social media to condemn the senseless attack.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also extended sympathies to the families of those who died in the incident.
Among those who perished was Elizabeth Panlilio Gonzales, the wife of Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales.
"We express our profound sorrow that innocent people, including Mrs. Elizabeth Gonzales, lost thier lives in this unspeakable tragedy. But we should not let this instill fear among the citizenry," he said.
Pandemonium occurred midnight Friday when a lone gunman stormed the entertainment and gaming complex.
Police said the gunman fired shots in the air, set gaming tables on fire and stole casino chips worth P113 million.
The attack, police said, was not related to terrorism.
But Alvarez disagreed with the conclusion of authorities, saying it was a clear example of a "lone wolf" attack targeting civilians to inflict maximum loss of life and damage to property.
"This incident should be a wake-up call for the police and the military to cooperate closely in making the seat of government and our financial and business center safe from any terrorist attack, whether by "lone wolves" or heavily armed terrorist contingents, as what happened in Marawi City," Alvarez said.
He also urged business establishments to do their share in ensuring the safety of people by installing more CCTVs (closed circuit television units) and similar security monitoring equipment, and deploying security personnel properly trained to spot and deal with suspicious individuals with possible criminal intent.
"We also urge the citizenry to actively help the government fight terrorism in all its forms by providing information to authorities on suspicious or unusual activities in their communities," he said.
Meanwhile, Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. said the loss of lives at the casino complex was unacceptable.
A total of 37 employees and guests of Resorts World Manila died of smoke inhalation after the gunman torched gambling tables. The still unidentified gunman meanwhile committed suicide.
“We are undeniably living in dangerous times, so we are counting on all establishments to constantly review and upgrade their security plans and emergency preparedness, especially their procedures in safely evacuating patrons and staff to avoid a repeat of the tragedy,” the deputy minority leader said in a statement.
The incident also injured over 60 people.