The Philippine National Police has ordered its units in Mindanao to man National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses, groceries, stores and other commercial establishments in typhoon-hit towns in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley to prevent looting.
On orders of President Aquino, PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome on Monday directed local police forces to ensure order and to guard government units and private groups distributing relief goods in areas ravaged by Typhoon “Pablo.”
Bartolome also instructed local PNP officials in Southern Mindanao to deploy their respective Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams and other “force multipliers” in the area.
Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., PNP spokesperson, said additional police personnel from Davao City, Northern Mindanao and other nearby provinces were deployed to Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley to augment police forces engaged in rescue missions and relief operations.
Under the PNP’s LOI (Letter of Instruction) Saklolo, Cerbo said police units should be ready to address looting of stores and abandoned houses in areas devastated by disasters.
“The LOI Saklolo mandates PNP units to be always on guard against looters or robbers when calamities hit their areas. We should not allow the breakdown of law and order in the communities,” Cerbo said in a news briefing.
“We will maintain police visibility to stop those who might take advantage of the situation in those areas,” he added.
Apparently growing desperate with the delay in the distribution of food and relief items, typhoon victims reportedly broke into stores and an NFA warehouse in Cateel, Davao Oriental, in search of food.
Despite the reported incidents of looting, Cerbo maintained that areas hit by the deadly typhoon “are still under control.”
“The police [will be proactive] to contain this problem of looting and we will leave it to the judgment of our local police commanders how to contain this and prevent it from escalating,” he said.
He expressed hope that the delivery of food rations to flood victims would be easier in the next few days as government workers had started clearing and repairing roads and bridges damaged by the flash floodss and mudslides.
“Together with other government agencies, we will focus on coming up with a more systematic [process] of distributing relief goods to stop looting,” Cerbo said.
He said some PNP members, including Philippine Military Academy Class 1984, were discussing ways to help provide food and financial assistance to flood victims.
Bartolome flew to Compostela Valley over the weekend to supervise the distribution of relief goods from Camp Crame and check on the conditions of some 200 PNP personnel and their families who were affected by the typhoon.
“Although some of our policemen were themselves victims of the typhoon, they still managed to help others first before their own families,” Bartolome said in a statement.