As typhoon-hit areas in the Philippines are still grappling with lack of food and no electricity, Bohol Governor Arthur Yap called on the national government to immediately send food and other basic goods to prevent massive looting.
Yap, whose province was one of the hardly-hit areas in the Visayas region, warned that without immediate help from outside, looting would become rampant due to growing hunger among affected residents.
But Yap said if food cannot be sent quickly, the national government should instead deploy army troops and police personnel to prevent looting incidents.
“If you will not send money for food, you should send soldiers and police. Because if not, lootings will break out here,” Yap warned.
He said lootings are already happening in small merchandise stores but assured “the situation remained under control.”
However, he warned that the looting could worsen once people in hardly-hit areas grow more desperate.
“People cannot withdraw money from banks without cellphone connections and power, and fuel and water shortages have also sparked long queues,” Yap said.
He said the provincial government could no longer provide rice and other basic goods to around 375,000 affected families since the province’s contingency fund had already run out.
Typhoon Odette ravaged many areas in the Philippines on Dec. 16, leaving at least 375 people dead, 500 injured and 56 missing. Nearly 100 of those who died were from Bohol. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said these numbers may increase as relief operations are still ongoing.
The local government of Dinagat Islands, one of the areas that was severely hit by Typhoon Odette, is also calling for help from the national government.
“Our food is about to run out, probably in a few days or tomorrow,” said Mayor Simplicia Pedrablanca of Tubajon, a town in Dinagat Islands where Typhoon Odette made its first landfall.
In Siargao, known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, there has also been widespread destruction due to Typhoon Odette.
“It was really, really bad, the strongest storm I ever witnessed in my life,” shared Tal Oran, an Israeli who is now living in Siargao.
“Never in my entire life have I encountered such a typhoon. To say ‘super’ is an understatement,” also shared Catholic Bishop Antonieto Cabajog, who is based in Surigao City.
President Rodrigo Duterte made his rounds of visits to affected areas in Visayas and Mindanao, assuring that immediate help will be given to all affected residents.
Majority of the areas ravaged by Typhoon Odette are still without power and network services but emergency crew are working double time to restore electricity in 227 affected areas. Network connections are already restored in at least 106 cities and towns.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana already ordered the military to deploy ships, boats, aircraft and trucks to deliver food, water and medical supplies to the affected residents.
International help has also started to pour in. Japan pledged to send power generators, tents, sleeping pads, water containers and tarpaulin roofing sheets while China said it is providing 20,000 food packs and rice.
The United Kingdom also pledged $1 million, Canada $2.3 million and the European Union with $2 million assistance.