De facto martial law

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - “De facto martial law” is in effect in Leyte and its capital Tacloban as authorities try to contain looting and secure relief goods being sent to areas that have yet to be reached a week after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said yesterday.

“(Martial law) is de facto, meaning it’s in place even if there’s no technical paper legalizing it,” Roxas told CNN’s Andrew Stevens.

He said the Philippine National Police (PNP) is enforcing the security measures.

“We have brought an additional 1,000 PNP from outside,” Roxas said.

He said even the curfew in Tacloban City was de facto as the city council could not raise a quorum to discuss the issue since some of its members were casualties of the typhoon.

Roxas issued the statement as reports of looting and people dying of hunger continued to come in.

In Isabel, Leyte, an 88-year-old man died waiting for relief goods, his daughter Wilma Lumanglas said.

On Tuesday, a wall of a warehouse of the National Food Authority collapsed, crushing eight people to death as hungry villagers swarmed the structure and carted away sacks of rice.

Tacloban City has a force of 293 policemen, but a day after Yolanda struck, only 20 reported for duty. On Wednesday, only 30 more showed up.

“They are also victims, they lost their shelters, and are looking for their loved ones,” Roxas said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday said it sent additional troops and several helicopters to Tacloban City and other parts of Leyte.

Roxas assured the public that government is doing everything it can to hasten the distribution of aid to remote areas and stabilize peace and order in starving communities.

“We want to assure the people that the entire force of President P-Noy (Aquino) is looking after the people here,” Roxas said, as he tried to dispel criticisms that the flow of aid remains excruciatingly slow.

“Nothing is fast enough in a situation like this. The point is everything we have, if this were a gun, all bullets are being deployed. If this is a fire hose, all hoses are being deployed. Slowly, as we’re clearing the streets, we’re able to reach the people in the interior,” he said.

Roxas also explained that the local government unit was supposed to be the first to respond to the disaster.

“What happened is that the local government unit, not just here in Tacloban but in many of the communities in Leyte, was basically, literally swept away,” he said.

“What you see here is multiplied a thousand times by all the other localities inside,” he said.

He said there are 40 towns in Leyte and half of them have yet to be reached by aid. However, authorities are hoping to reach the isolated towns today.

Roxas admitted the entry and processing of relief goods had been “chaotic.”

“There are no baggage tags. The supplies just come in unmarked boxes,” Roxas said.

The Department of Health (DOH), for its part, has implemented price control on 200 drugs to ensure the availability of supplies for the victims.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the price control takes effect immediately and covers all private and public drug retail outlets, including hospital pharmacies nationwide.

Be accurate

President Aquino appealed to media for “greater accuracy” in reporting the tragedy.

In a speech read by Press Secretary Herminio Coloma, the President said accuracy of reports is sometimes being sacrificed “at the altar of a catchier headline or a more intriguing lead.”

Coloma read the speech before the national convention of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas at Clark Freeport in Pampanga.

“The entire country, even the rest of the world, is relying on the flow of information that you help provide,” Coloma said.

“In the same way that you have used your media coverage to give this disaster a very real human face and to move others to action, you can also use your role to uplift the spirits of the Filipino people, to find stories of resilience, of hope, of faith, and show the world how strong the Filipino people are,” he said.

Coloma said the government would put up an emergency broadcast facility in Tacloban City to facilitate information dissemination.

This will serve as a communication facility for survivors to look for their missing relatives, as well as to ensure faster delivery of goods.

Coloma also said authorities are preparing burial sites, but the mass burials would take into account the sensibilities of the families of the deceased.

He said the DOH, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the AFP are coordinating to identify and prepare the appropriate burial sites.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is repacking two million food packs within two weeks to intensify relief operations.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the DSWD has started distributing 40,000 metric tons of high-energy biscuits from the World Food Program.

Some 5,692 food packs and 520 rice packs were also distributed in Leyte.

The distribution of additional 2,480 sacks of rice will be completed today, she said.

Some eight truckloads containing 7,200 food packs and 7,200 1-liter bottles of water were dispatched yesterday to affected towns in Leyte.

Aquino yesterday visited several repacking centers of the DSWD at the Air 21 cargo house and Air Force gym at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City and the Ateneo covered courts in Quezon City.

This came amid reports that some repacking centers are not orderly and volunteers are being turned away because there are too many of them.

The government said additional repacking centers would be established to ensure continuous flow of goods.

How about us?

A week after the typhoon, Samar province still has not received aid from the national government.

Christine Caidic, acting head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, lamented that assistance seems to be pouring into Tacloban but not to Samar, which was also devastated by Yolanda.

“The relief operations of the PDRRMC have been going on but nothing is coming from the outside. The Red Cross is here but there’s still none (from the national government),” she said.

Caidic said the provincial government is relying on pledges of non-governmental organizations, church groups and a contingent from Camarines Sur.

Hardest hit in Samar are the towns of Marubut and Basey, where so far 121 and 585 dead have been found. In Basey, only 158 of the dead have been identified.

Caidic said a mass burial was made the other day but the bodies were not placed in body bags since none has been provided by the national government.

Caidic said the town is using its own resources to help the victims as they wait for the national government to take notice.

Capiz, too

Vice President Jejomar Binay pointed out that Capiz was 85 percent destroyed by the typhoon.

“We conducted an inspection in Iloilo. But it is more serious here. I understand that 80 to 85 percent of Capiz was destroyed,” he said.

Binay said affected residents may avail of the government’s housing programs. Pag-IBIG Fund has deployed roving officers in affected areas to make it easier for members to avail of housing assistance.

Former first lady and now Ilocos Rep. Imelda Marcos expressed concern over the devastation in her home province of Leyte.

“With great concern, of course, and we are keeping her apprised of the situation on the ground and what we have been doing to help,” said Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. –Sheila Crisostomo, Aurea Calica, Ding Cervantes, Christina Mendez, Jose Rodel Clapano


vuukle comment











  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with