Duterte to Leyte’s rescue: ‘Shoot looters’

Karlos Manlupig

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Mayor Rodrigo Duterte brings P7 million, doctors, nurses, medicines, rescuers to Tacloban in Leyte, and his city of birth, Maasin in Southern Leyte

MORAL OBLIGATION. Mayor Rodrigo Duterte before he boards the chopper that will bring him on humanitarian mission to the cities of Tacloban and Maasin, in two Leyte provinces, November 11. Photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Saying that it is “a moral obligation for the Davaoeños to help,” Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte flew to typhoon-battered Leyte to personally lead the humanitarian team sent by the city on Monday, November 11.

Bringing P7 million cash with him, Duterte was expected to arrive in Tacloban City ahead of his team of health professionals and rescuers, which was still in Maasin City in the nearby Southern Leyte, hampered by uprooted trees and debris along the roads.

“I have to see to it that the 55-man contingent from Davao City arrives in Tacloban in due time,” Duterte, sporting a yellow windbreaker and a pair of black jogging pants, said before flying.

And if looters would try to waylay and ransack the convoy that’s carrying medicines, Duterte’s instruction to the convoy’s security escorts was: shoot them.

Sabihin sa mga tao na pumapara na, ‘Wag galawin ito, kasi sinabi ni Mayor Duterte na kapag ginalaw ito barilin ko kayo.’ Eh anarchy eh,” Duterte said. (I instructed them to tell people who will try to flag them down, ‘Don’t touch these goods, because Mayor Duterte said that if you try to, we should shoot you.’ That’s what you do when there’s anarchy.)

The long-time mayor, known for his iron-fist stance on criminals in Davao City, was taking precaution after reports that Red Cross relief and rescue vans were attacked by desperate residents in Tacloban City.

Medyo mahirap ang nangyari talaga. The news are filtering in and ang problema kasi yung mga Red Cross na pumapasok doon, ang relief, inaambush ng mga tao,” Duterte said. (We can’t take chances after what hapened. The news are filtering in, and Red Cross’ problem was, people were ambushing the relief [vans].”

“I would not really make a sweeping accusation, but along the way they are being cannibalized,” Duterte added.

The mayor shared that the government forces with the convoy will initially use the public address system of the lead police car to tell the people that the contingent from Davao City is only carrying doctors and medicines.

If residents would still try to attack the convoy, it would be their loss, said Duterte: “We can add more casualties with wounded by the bullets or drowning. Nasa kanila yan (It’s up to them if they want to do it that way),” added Duterte.

But Duterte clarified that the security force would only fire if needed and they would only fire at the feet of the looters.

Sabi ko naman, paa lang. When they start climbing to ransack the truck to raid the medicines barilin sa paa lang. Tutal may prosthetics naman ‘yan pagkatapos,” Duterte said. (I told them to just shoot at the feet… They can have prosthetics after, anyway.)

City of his birth 

Duterte said the team from Davao – composed of 20 doctors, 20 nurses, and the “cream of the crop” of the search and retrieval component of the city’s 911 program – was immediately mobilized and left the city for Tacloban a day after the disaster.

He said the city government prioritized sending doctors and medicines because he was expecting that food would pour in the next 48 hours.

The convoy from Davao City is now carrying pneumonia medication, anti-biotic and anti-tetanus supply.

Aside from providing services and manpower, Duterte said he is also carrying P7 million that he would personally deliver to local officials – P3 million to the provincial government, and P2 million each for the city governments of Tacloban and Maasin.

Duterte was born in Maasin.

He said he would also immediately return to Davao City on the same day. “Hindi ako masyado importante doon, wala akong magawa except to condole with the community, share the grief with the mayor there. Uuwi na agad ako para magamit ang helicopter.” (I’m not that important there. I can’t do anything… I will go home immediately so they can use the helicopter.)

He shared that his friends lent 3 choppers as a contribution to the humanitarian mission.

National emergency

Asked for his advice on handling large-scale disasters like this, Duterte said that declaring national emergency is more logical over declaring martial law.

“There two kinds of philosophies to deal with the problem. The declaration of an extraordinary measure like to declare a national emergency and martial law. We are not dealing with fighting forces. We are dealing with human misery. So the better option for the President, if he really wants to, is to declare national emergency,” Duterte said.

He explained that the problem is now beyond the capacity and jurisdiction of the city council of Tacloban and that the national government should directly lead all operations.

Duterte commented that declaring national emergency will give more power to the President to control the movement of the people, law and order (particularly looting), and the prices of basic commodities in the market.

But he added that this is just his “humble opinion” and it is not his intention to tell anybody what to do.

Lawmakers from Leyte led the House of Representatives’ independent bloc on Monday in filing a resolution urging the President to declare a state of emergency nationwide.

Duterte suggested that, should a strong cyclone threaten the Philippines again, massive evacuation should be conducted by local authorities to avoid casualties.

“You can, like America, do a mass evacuation. There is always a projection of the path of the storm. So you must get out the people. That is not impossible but it will be difficult. And besides they only anticipated the strong winds. They never took into account the surge,” Duterte said. – Rappler.com

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