Duterte taps security forces to distribute typhoon aid
President Duterte said on Thursday that he wants the military and the police to handle the distribution of financial aid and other forms of assistance in typhoon-ravaged areas where the local government may not be able to properly handle the task.
Speaking in a command conference in Cebu, which took place on Thursday but which Malacañang only aired on Saturday, Mr. Duterte said the military should assist in areas where the government does not have much presence.
Mr. Duterte said that in some areas, there were problems in mobility and the structure of the distribution of assistance to the people.
“The military and the police and all the good planners must come in. My plan is all assets of the government must be utilized,” he said.
“So I [will] take a shortcut. The money will be distributed by the military,” the President said.
“In the areas where there is not much government presence, again, it will be the military. They would be there to say that they have the money … I don’t have suspicion about somebody absconding. But the military, as I have always said, has a structure,” he said.
“I leave the problem to you, it’s up to you to think of how to see to it that … the money will be given as fast as we can,” he said.
He later said that Land Bank of the Philippines could bring the money to the affected areas with military or police escort.
The mayor could handle the distribution, he said.
He said he had requested Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to oversee the transfer of the money.Regional commanders of the Philippine National Police should also handle other tasks, Mr. Duterte said.
This does not mean he distrusts the local officials, he said.
“But in times of disorder, this is necessary, even in the matter of escorting the trucks … People become disorderly so the police must be there and the military to see to it that the intention and the expectations of government are realized,” he said.
He said that if people were hungry, it could be hard to control the crowds and the situation could spiral into a riot.
“That is what I am avoiding, which is why the police [should] really come in. Stricter supervision amongst the people. My caveat there is let’s go easy, you know if a person is hungry, especially if his children are crying, he can go crazy,” he said.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who joined the President’s command conference, said there was no disorder in Cebu.
Garcia also said the police and the military have been assisting Cebu in clearing operations and managing traffic.