The sign says it all in Palo, Leyte. Inset shows a boy waiting to leave Tacloban City. EDD GUMBAN/AP

TACLOBAN CITY, NOVEMBER 14, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Czerina Valencia - Thousands of desperate residents stormed a warehouse of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Alangalang, Leyte on Tuesday, resulting in the death of eight people when a wall collapsed during the stampede.

NFA spokesman Rex Estoperez said the eight were crushed when the wall collapsed on them as looters raided the rice in Alangalang town, 17 kilometers from Leyte’s capital Tacloban City.

He said the looters carted away more than 100,000 sacks of rice and palay.

Estoperez yesterday said the warehouse staff and the police guarding the warehouse could not stop the crowd that took away 33,000 50-kilo bags of rice and 96,000 50-kilo bags of palay.

“The wall did not give in because of the typhoon but because of the piles of rice and palay that fell when the looting took place,” he said in a phone interview. “When the staff is confronted with a crowd like that, it is impossible to control.”

Police, soldiers and private security guards were guarding the warehouse in Alangalang but they were overpowered by the crowd, Estoperez added.

“There must have been so many people to carry away so many bags of rice,” he said.

“Our staff were there but they could not do anything without risking their safety,” he added.

Estoperez said his agency believed looters were looking to profit by selling the grain.

“Some people are really hungry but others just wanted to ransack for money,” he said, adding that the NFA was coordinating with the transport department and military to ensure that ships and trucks carrying rice would be properly guarded.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the department requested the military to guard NFA warehouses in the region while distribution of rice to local government units continues.

He said the incident created fear among staffers in other NFA warehouses. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Kathleen Martin, Edith Regalado, Lalaine Jimenea, AP

Noy urged to appoint rehab czar in typhoon-hit areas By Celso Amo (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 14, 2013 - 12:00am

Survivors walk near their home in typhoon-ravaged Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into central Philippine provinces Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – President Aquino should appoint a rehabilitation czar in the areas damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said yesterday.

He proposed that Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras be named to the post, adding that relief and recovery efforts should be centralized under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Citing a Bloomberg report, Salceda said Yolanda’s economic impact could reach $14 billion or P604 billion, which is equal to five percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“The impact will be felt on the GDP’s fourth quarter but its full impact will continue next year as it overlaps with the cost of reconstruction from Typhoon Pablo, the damage on Zamboanga City and the Bohol earthquake which could reach P60 billion,” he said.

Meanwhile, Almendras said the President has appointed Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya as the “czar on how to move things.”

“He’s the transport guru now. So air, land, and sea are at his disposal to make sure we move the goods just as fast as we can pack them,” he said.

Master plan

Amid criticisms on the slow pace of relief operations, Almendras also assured the public that a master plan is in place to address the needs of the survivors in hardest hit areas.

“This is the first time we are going to try it at this magnitude. So far, goods are moving. So it’s really the resources. You cannot imagine the magnitude of resources that need to be made available to do this,” he said.

Jollibee, Metrobank, Toyota aid

More private corporations and local government units chipped in for Yolanda victims.

Jollibee Foods Corp. and Jollibee Group Foundation pledged P30 million in relief and rehabilitation assistance.

Almost 300 of its employees have also been mobilized to assist the DSWD in repacking relief goods.

At least 600 sacks of rice and ready-to-eat meals have been previously provided to more than 20,000 survivors and volunteers.

Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña announced the P50-million joint donation of Metrobank Group, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) and Toyota Financial Services Philippines.

The amount would be equally divided for relief operations and the reconstruction of churches, schools and other infrastructure.

“We are saddened by the extent of destruction in the lives and properties among our fellow Filipinos in the Visayas, including the province of Palawan brought about by this recent calamity… We hope other corporations will do their share as a show of solidarity with the victims,” Metrobank Group chairman and founder George SK Ty said.

Philippine Airlines flew eight medical teams and one psychosocial team to Tacloban City yesterday. The teams also brought medicine, medical equipment and other supplies to augment the efforts of the Department of Health. – With Mike Frialde, Delon Porcalla, Jose Rodel Clapano, Marvin Sy, Rey Galupo, Evelyn Macairan, Jennifer Rendon


‘Yolanda’ turns town into terrifying wasteland Philippine Daily Inquirer
2:20 am | Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 13 2984 2875

RUINS WHERE ‘YOLANDA’ MADE FIRST LANDFALL. The historic Church of the Immaculate Conception (roofless rectangle building with bell tower) in Guiuan, Samar province, lies in ruins like most structures in the town of Eastern Samar. Hailed as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum, the church was built by the Jesuits in the early 18th century. JOHN CHUA/INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT-

GUIUAN, Eastern Samar—This fishing town where one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded made the first of a series of landfalls in the Visayas has been turned into a terrifying wasteland where armed men threaten to kill fellow survivors for food.

Guiuan, known for its beautiful beaches and rich colonial history, was where Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: “Haiyan”) roared in from the Pacific Ocean with winds of 315 kilometers an hour on Friday. Its fate remained unknown until Monday when soldiers and journalists arrived for a brief visit by helicopter.

“It is terrifying here,” a frightened resident told an Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalist as he stood amid the carnage of the town at the southern tip of Samar Island that a week ago was a bustling community of 47,000 people.

“There are armed thieves going about. If they know that you have food stored away, they will force their way into your house and rob you at gunpoint.”

Other residents warned of pistol-wielding men seeking not money but rice—a valuable commodity as the town’s food supplies dwindle.

Warehouse looted

At a warehouse—one of the few structures still standing—a crowd eagerly looted its contents, not just for food but for anything they could get their hands on: clothes, toys, trinkets, household goods.

“We’re helpless here. We are so few and they are so many,” a policeman said. He was one of just a few of the 35 policemen who had shown up for work after the typhoon.

Like in other devastated towns on Samar and neighboring islands, where more than 10,000 people were feared dead, police were victims, too. They were either dead, too traumatized to turn up for work or too preoccupied with trying to ensure their loved ones survived the gruesome typhoon aftermath.

Yolanda knocked out Guiuan’s water and telecommunications services and toppled trees and electrical posts, blocking routes to the town and any hopes of desperately needed food and medicines being delivered.

Large buildings and even a sports stadium were flattened, while from the air the remnants of dozens of flimsy homes built along the coast looked like piles of splintered wood.

The roof of Guiuan’s church, which dates back to the 1700s, had been blown off, eliminating another slice of history for a town known as the site where Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521.

Other towns

General MacArthur, Balangkayan, Hernani, Salcedo and other southern towns were also badly beaten by Yolanda, according to a counselor of Ateneo de Manila, who was with 12 others in a team of mostly former seminarians from the Borongan Diocese that reached the areas.

Carlo Carlon, a native of MacArthur town, told the Inquirer in a satellite phone interview in his hometown that his group was gathering fresh information in the hard-to-reach areas and relay these to Manila so relief operations may be extended.

Hernani and Balangiga seemed to have been “hit by an atomic bomb,” he said.

The villages of Carmen, Batang and Garawon in Hernani were “wiped out from the map,” he added.

At least 65 people died in Hernani and were buried in a mass grave in the municipal public cemetery, Carlon said.

Residents’ plea

The residents were getting agitated by the scarce food supply, he said. “They need food, rice, and there should be security to maintain peace and order.”

In Manila, Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said the Philippine Air Force was securing an airfield in Guiuan for the landing of relief supplies by C-130 planes.

The main cause of the devastation in Guiuan was the strong winds, a ragged man told the French news agency AFP, and not tsunami-like waves that destroyed many other towns.

He estimated that the death toll there was relatively small. “Less than a hundred,” he said.

But like elsewhere it seemed certain that it would be a long time before the true number of the dead in Guiuan is determined, if ever.

“There were a few dead bodies there. And some more over there,” another man said casually as he pointed at different pieces of debris.

“There may have been around 50 dead, but we buried them already.”—With reports from AFP; Connie E. Fernandez, Inquirer Visayas; and Miguel R. Camus in Manila

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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