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Trapped in burning hotel, PAGCOR employees heroically saved others

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By Hans Amancio

Trapped and injured employees of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) prioritized other people in a “heroic fashion” during the fire incident in Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel on Sunday, PAGCOR officials said.

​A security personnel at Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel one of the employee who trapped on the top floor of the burning building that started around 9 in the morning (photo by ali vicoy)

​A security personnel at Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel helps one of the employees who was trapped on the top floor of the burning hotel casino last Sunday. (photo by Ali Vicoy)

During a conference Monday, PAGCOR Assistant Vice President (AVP) for Corporate Communications Carmelita Valdez and AVP for Entertainment Jimmy Bondoc said that even if they were not given such orders, the PAGCOR employees left inside the Manila Pavilion Hotel insisted on assisting other individuals during the incident.

“Sila po ang may desisyon (They decided) to stay. Ilang ulit po silang kinalampag, pinalabas ng kwarto para lumikas na. Ang malinaw dito, ang inuna nila ma-clear ‘yung mga tao (They were asked to leave the premises several times. What’s clear is that they prioritized to evacuate the people) because that’s their job,” Valdez said. “Inuna yung mga tao in a heroic fashion (They prioritized the people in a heroic fashVald,” Bondoc added.

He said that the employees, including survivor Jennilyn Figueroa, decided to secure the agency’s money based on their initiative.

“Yung sa treasury, hindi nila inakala na ganun kabilis ang ikakalat ng apoy kaya sinecure muna sa vault ang pera (In the treasury, they did not anticipate that the fire would spread so fast so secured the money in the vault first). That is not because they were trading their life for money. Ginawa lang nila yung duty nila kasi ganyan ang training nila (They did that based on their call of duty and it’s part of their training). But they always had the choice to leave,” he said. “It was their choice na unahin muna ung pag-aari ng gobyerno at ang safety ng iba (It was their choice to prioritize the government’s property first as well as the people’s safety).”

Bondoc also clarified the agency’s Standard Operating Procedure, saying that they have no protocol requiring their employees to secure the establishment’s properties above anything else in such situation.

“Wala pong kahit anong mandato ang PAGCOR na unahin yung pera kesa yung sarili nila. Wala po tayong pinipigilan na lumabas o isecure lahat. Hindi po importante kung ano man ang dapat na.. ang maiwan doon. Ang importante ay mailikas po sila (PAGCOR has no mandate declaring that employees should prioritize the money above themselves. What would be left behind is not important compared to their immediate evacuation),” Bondoc said.

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