BREAKDOWN | AFP, PNP augment civil-order forces in Tacloban, where 85% of cops affected by Yolanda
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA – With majority of local law enforcers themselves having been victimized by super typhoon Yolanda, the capital city of Tacloban has descended into an orgy of looting and sporadic violence the past two days, prompting an urgent appeal from the Armed Forces and the police to stop these, saying relief goods are coming to them as quickly as possible.
It began late Friday with the ransacking of the Gaisano Mall, followed by reported forays into restaurants and smaller shops as people reeling from the devastation—a huge part of the once bustling city was flattened by storm surges spawned by Yolanda’s record strength—searched for food, water and other supplies. As of Saturday, there were reports that ATM machines of banks were being broken into.
“[We’re] appealing to all civilians affected by [typhoon] Yolanda to cooperate with government authorities particularly the Philippine National Police and Department of Interior and Local Government in their efforts to restore order amid ongoing rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations,” the military said in a statement.
At least 100 soldiers have been fielded to help restore peace and order in Tacloban City, it added.
PNP Public Information Officer Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said an additional 500 policemen were being deployed to help restore civil order, even as local businessmen were prodding President Benigno Aquino III to declare martial law in the place.
Meeting the press in Tacloban City, Mr. Aquino cited reports that only about 20 of the city’s estimated 290-man police force (or about 15 percent) had returned to their posts after Yolanda struck, with hundreds of others presumed to have fallen victims to the typhoon’s wrath as well.
Sindac said in a TV interview, “Looting should not happen because our police personnel in that area were also devastated by the typhoon. So we’re sending additional troops there.” The National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) is sending 130 personnel, 160 from Police Regional Office 4-A, 120 from PRO3, and 100 from PRO5.
Government troops have also established command and control in affected areas to hasten the facilitation of relief goods, search-and-rescue and retrieval operations.
Technicians from Smart Communications, three personnel from the United Nations, twenty-two foreign medical volunteers of the Mammoth Medical Mission, and an air traffic controller from the Air Traffic Organization have been sent to Tacloban via special flight aboard a Philippine Air Force Fokker aircraft.
The PNP also set up a communication cell in the Tacloban City Police Station and the Base Ops, Villamore Air Base to augment communication requirements for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response operations. Two more in Roxas City, Capiz and Mactan City, Cebu were sent to monitor rescue and relief efforts.
DSWD: 2-M families affected
Meanwhile, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazaon “Dinky” Soliman said that as of 12 noon Sunday the number of families affected has reached the two million mark composed of 9.53 million persons as local government units (LGUs) from Regions IV-A and B, V, VI, VII, VIII, X, and CARAGA continue to assess the extent of the disaster.
She said some 96,039 displaced families with 449,416 persons are staying in 1,790 evacuation centers, while 36,627 other families with 182,379 persons temporarily sought shelter in their friends and relatives’ houses.
“DSWD has initially extended P10.6 million worth of relief assistance to Bicol region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and CARAGA. In Tacloban City, DSWD, in coordination with the local government, set up a satellite internet service at the city hall to enable the public to communicate with their relatives,” she said.
“The relief operations are hampered by lack of communication and inaccessibility of the worst-hit towns, cities and barangays, but we from DSWD and other government agencies are doing our best to reach the affected population,” she added.
Soliman thanked the 1,906 volunteers who trooped to the DSWD-National Resource Operations Center (NROC) to assist in the repacking of relief goods since November 7.
She added more volunteers were expected “during the weekend when there is no work or school. Some are regular volunteers who have been helping out at NROC every time there is a disaster,” she said.
Repacking of relief goods at NROC is on 24-hour shifting schedule. Individuals and groups who are interested to volunteer may call telephone numbers 851-2681 and 511-1259 for shifting schedule.
Likewise, volunteers in the Visayas can go to the DSWD Field Offices in Iloilo and Cebu preferably during daytime.