House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday insisted that it is “proper” to label the attack of a lone gunman in Resorts World Manila as an "act of terrorism."
Alvarez said the attack perpetrated by dismissed Department of Finance employee Jessie Carlos sowed fear among the people.
“Kung nag-cause ng terror, so anong tawag natin doon? It’s an act of terrorism, right? It’s an act of terrorism by itself, strictly defined,” he said while interpellating National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Dir. Oscar Albayalde.
“Strictly, a person who harms and kills anybody indiscriminately is an act of terrorism, whether or not he is a member of a terrorist group or a lone terrorist,” he added.
During the questioning, Alvarez asked Albayalde to “educate” the lawmakers on the “universal definition” of terrorism.
The NCRPO chief said it is “an act of violence that would create massive casualties and massive fear in the population.”
The Speaker then asked him if he considers last week’s attack on Resorts World Manila as an act of terrorism.
Albayalde replied that “the deaths … were incidental” to Carlos’ actions.
When pressed that the act of terrorism “as strictly defined,” the police official said: “Yes, sir. Technically terrorism po ‘yun.” He tried to elaborate in his response, but Alvarez went on to make his point.
For his part Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) OIC Catalino Cuy said Albayalde “was just emphasizing that based on available information and evidence,” the attack on Resorts World Manila “is not related to the ongoing clashes between the military and the Maute local terror group in Marawi City.
Alvarez, in turn, said he’s is “not connecting” the said attack to the ongoing fight in Marawi, which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao.
“We just want a proper labeling of what happened in Resorts World. Let us not confuse between a crime and yung acts of terrorism. Of course, yung acts of terrorism produce maybe so many crimes: murder, arson, 'di ba? Pero iba 'yun e. Iba itong ano pagle-label natin nung acts of terrorism,” he said.
The Speaker then cited Republic Act 9372, or the Human Security Act, which defines terrorism as an “act of sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand.”
While he did not specify what Carlos’ specific “unlawful demand” was to authorities from the said attack, Alvarez said: “Siguro tingnan lang natin. Hindi tayo agad magsabi na, ‘Uy, hindi act of terrorism ‘yan kundi act of arson resulting in multiple homicide siguro,’ ‘di ba?”
The Speaker has remained firm in saying that the incident, where 37 people were killed, was an act of terrorism.
This is despite pronouncements from the police, as well as President Rodrigo Duterte himself, where they ruled out the possibility of terrorism in the attack. —JST, GMA News