Malacañang has rejected the proposal to shoot the suspected looters in a city devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).
Tacloban City has seen some of the worst pillaging. Famished survivors desperate for food and medical supplies have ransacked aid convoys, hampering relief efforts.
Survivors have reported gangs stealing consumer goods, including televisions and washing machines, from small businesses.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that the looting came about because the first responders could not arrive, because they themselves were victims of the storm.
For that reason, the government security forces have been deployed to contain looting and help restore law and order in the in the city, he said.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd has tasked several police personnel to go to Eastern Visayas “to ensure peace and order can be restored,” he added
The government had deployed armored vehicles, set up checkpoints and imposed a curfew following reports of looting and lawlessness.
Added police personnel will be on rotation basis. They will be replaced by another batch after one to two weeks.
Meanwhile, the Palace official assured the affected residents that “there are plenty of relief goods.”
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), he said, has already provided P34.57 million worth of relief to the affected families in the Bicol region, Western Visayas and Central Visayas.
A total of 159,784 family food packs are now in the provinces worst hit by the storm, ready for distribution.
The agency also repacked a total of 159,784 food packs with around 57,776 food packs have been distributed to Regions IV-A, IV-B, VI, VII, VIII, and CARAGA.
The DSWD estimates that some 66,899 families are being served inside 1,135 evacuation centers.
“Food packs were given to families in the evacuation centers as well as those affected families who stayed with their families and friends.,” he added.
Citing a report from National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Lacierda said that the official death toll from the typhoon was put at 1,774, , with 82 persons missing and 2,487 others injured.
Damaged houses increased to 41,176 houses in Regions IV-A, VI, VIII, X, XI, and CARAGA, he noted.
According to Lacierda, the lack of power, communication and the destruction of roads and bridges have made relief efforts difficult.
The airport operations in Busuanga, Roxas, Kalibo, and Tacloban also remain suspended, he said,
The use of choppers in Tacloban to deliver relief goods is a “temporary solution until such time as additional transportation assets arrive,” he added.
For the meantime, Lacierda said that a total of 13,519 personnel, 811 vehicles, 40 seacrafts, 24 aircrafts and other assets or equipment were prepositioned and deployed to strategic areas to facilitate response operations.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines also deployed five helicopters coming from the central command “to augment the six helicopters that are already performing humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations in Tacloban City,” Lacierda said.
Second batch of the Philippine Army’s 525th Engineering Combat Battalion, together with the First Special Forces Battalion, also left Villamor Air Base “to augment the first batch of troops who left Manila together with the equipment yesterday via Philippine Air Force C-130 aircraft,” he added
The Palace also said that 11 M-35 trucks left from the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig en route to Tacloban City via Bicol to assist in the delivery of relief goods to remote areas in Eastern Visayas.
“Once they arrive in Tacloban, the trucks will be under the operational command of AFP Central Command,” he noted. CATHERINE S. VALENTE