‘Relief to reach 40 Leyte towns Thursday’

Carmela Fonbuena

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Defense chief Gazmin also gives assurances, 'We're in full control of the security problem in Tacloban,' even as residents continue to report peace and order breakdown

FULL CONTROL? Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin says they've stopped looting on November 11. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (Updated) – The national government will be able to reach all 40 municipalities of Leyte by Thursday, November 14, defense chief Voltaire Gazmin said.

The secretary of national defense gave this assurance Wednesday night, November 13, after a closed-door meeting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in Camp Aguinaldo.

He also stressed that the military is “in full control of the security problem in Tacloban.” He said rampant looting in the city had been stopped since Monday night. This was consistent with the claim of the Philippine National Police that incidents of looting had “dramatically decreased” in the city.  

“We agreed – Secretary Mar [Roxas] and Secretary Dinky [Soliman] agreed that we will cover all the 40 municipalities of Leyte tomorrow,” he said.

Leyte has 40 municipalities, a highly urbanized city (Tacloban), an independent component city (Ormoc), and a component city (Baybay).

Leyte is the worst hit, based on latest NDRRMC data. At least 2,344 were killed, 3804 were injured, and 79 are missing. The most number of fatalities was recorded in Leyte, where 1,068 were killed. It is followed by Tacloban City with 696 reported killed. (READ: Aquino: Death toll at 2,000-2,500

Nine Philippine Army trucks were dispatched Wednesday afternoon and are expected to arrive in Tacloban Thursday morning. “That will augment the existing transportation assets we have in Tacloban,” Gazmin said. 

Tacloban City is under control, Gazmin said, even as residents, their relatives in Metro Manila continued to post on social media their concerns about breakdown in peace and order.

The defense chief said the the Army has 1,200 troops in the city while the police brought in about 800. They are backed up by 4 armored vehicles. (READ: Curfew, armored vehicles in Tacloban)

Gazmin flew back to Manila on Wednesday after supervising government response to the typhoon aftermath. He was in Leyte a day before typhoon Yolanda hit land. 

Widespread looting became a problem in Tacloban City and other areas, where typhoon victims are going hungry because of delays in the distribution of relief goods. City officials have also been quoted blaming outsiders coming from as far as Samar to be behind the looting, although the national police said they have yet to confirm these reports– Rappler.com

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