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PNP sends police force to Tacloban

More than 200 members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) have been sent to Tacloban City and other localities in the province of Leyte which was ravaged by super typhoon “Yolanda” for both relief and rehabilitation operations and establishment of peace and order.

More will be sent if needed as hundreds of policemen from across the country have been put on standby for deployment to Yolanda-battered areas at any time, according to Police Director Lina Sarmiento, head of the Directorate for Police Community Relations and concurrent commander of the task group of the police response to Typhoon Yolanda.

Sarmiento said a total of 202 SAF members have already arrived in Tacloban City, with a special instruction to its commander Police Director Carmelo Valmoria to immediately set up a command post in Tacloban City.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) chief himself, Director General Alan Purisima, joined the 120 SAF commandos who arrived in Tacloban City, the hardest hit area in central Philippines where most of the fatalities were monitored.

“Their presence is more for search, rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the affected areas, considering the extent of damage of the super typhoon in Tacloban City alone,” said Sarmiento

“They will also be assigned to maintain peace and order in Tacloban City,” she added.

The aspect of peace and order cropped up after reports of looting in some establishments in Tacloban City, with a television footage showing scores of local residents ransacking a mall in the city proper.

The local police and military forces in the area were rendered immobilized by the extent of damage and the fact that they and their families are also victims of the disaster.

“We are ready to send more, we are just waiting for the assessment and communication from General Valmoria as to the number of policemen still needed,” said Sarmiento.

In fact, Sarmiento said the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) has already placed on standby a total of 160 of its personnel who are just waiting for the final instruction to go.

Another group of policemen from the CARAGA regional police in Mindanao will also be sending a number of its personnel that would go along with the relief items.

Sarmiento said more than 60 policemen from Central Visayas region were sent to Ormoc City to assist and serve as augmentation force for the local police force.

As of Saturday, the main problem for the police in sending personnel to Leyte is transportation. In fact, there was a delay in the departure of the SAF contingent.

“We are ready to spend for chartered flight for our personnel due to the necessity of sending more people there to assist in relief, rehabilitation operations,” said Sarmiento.

Included in the police force sent to Tacloban City are seven members of the Crime Laboratory and two electronics and communication experts, according to Sarmiento.