The streets of Tacloban City in Leyte were in chaos Saturday as several residents began looting grocery stores and breaking into shops for food and other basic items they needed to survive in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda.
Video footage recorded by the team of GMA News correspondent Jiggy Manicad showed several men breaking into what appeared to be the storage area of a grocery store in the city and grabbing as much bread and softdrinks bottles as they can get.
Manicad said some residents have even resorted to forcibly entering fast food shops and destroying ATMs to get food and cash.
Looting in Tacloban City has been attributed to low police and military presence in the area after the typhoon, Manicad said.
"Sa lawak ng pinsalang idinulot nitong bagyo, masyadong manipis yung pagpapakalat ng awtoridad para i-handle yung sitwasyon kaya't ganito na ang nangyayari [dito], kanya-kanyang diskarte na, partikular na dito sa lungsod ng Tacloban," he said.
Manicad said the lone policeman he saw in the area where looting was taking place was powerless to stop the residents because he was outnumbered and people were already desperate for food and other necessities.
Tacloban, a city of more than 200,000 people, is among the areas most severely hit by typhoon "Yolanda" when it hit the Visayas early Friday morning.
In an earlier report, Manicad said he saw at least 30 dead people in the city and in Palo town after the storm.
Video footage taken by a resident showed corrugated iron sheets being ripped off roofs and floating with the wind before crashing into buildings.
An unidentified man who admitted looting supplies from a grocery store said he and other residents were just forced to steal because they want to survive.
"Sabi sa grocery, okay lang daw na kunin namin yung pagkain nila, pero wag lang yung mga dried goods (clothes). Mahirap po [ang sitwasyon namin]. Namatayan na nga kami eh. Kailangan naming isalba ang buhay namin. Wala naman nang silbi ang pera ngayon," the man said.
In response to reports of looting in the city, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Twitter it is working with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police to restore order.
It said that amid "unverified reports of anarchy/looting in Tacloban. We assure you that we are doing our part in helping @DILG & @pnppio restore order."
"(It is) imperative that command and control be firmly placed in islands of Leyte, Cebu, and Panay to allow @DILG & @pnppio to reestablish order," AFP said. — Xianne Arcangel/JDS, GMA News