MANILA -- In fear for their safety, many businessmen have left Leyte amid incidents of looting in the wake of the devastation of super typhoon "Yolanda.”
In an interview with radio dzMM Tuesday, Alfred Li of the Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said that after leaving commercial establishments in Tacloban City empty, the business community fears that looters may resort to kidnapping or other crimes.
Li, who is in the distribution business, said his family left Tacloban for Cebu and Metro Manila. He also said majority of the members of LCCI are already out of Leyte.
"We have abandoned Tacloban," Li said.
He believes that criminals, and not just hungry typhoon survivors, are behind the looting in Tacloban City.
He said these looters are even using trucks to carry the things they stole from commercial establishments.
"May grupong nauuna na nagbubukas. They take the highest-priced goods, may truck silang dala nagkakarga. Kapag puno na yung truck, aalis na sila," said Li. "Usually they will overpower security guards or magahahanap sila ng mga tao na gutom, and then they will tell the people ‘O! Puwede na nating buksan!' para may mob power sila."
He added that these people, mostly not from Tacloban, are usually armed.
Li said that as per the reports they are getting, looters are now ransacking other areas in Leyte.
Among the areas reportedly reached by looters are the towns of Jaro, Palo and Alangalang, a town approximately 40 kilometers from Tacloban.
"Yesterday was Palo, it is the warehouse of Unilab. This morning also in Palo is the warehouse of URC (Universal Robina Corporation). Niransack na rin yung mga bigas [from the National Food Authority (NFA) warehouse in Alangalang]," he said. "The biggest [NFA] warehouse in Region 8."
Li also confirmed that there was a jailbreak recently in Tacloban City, but he isn’t sure if this is related to the incidents of looting.
He called on the government forces to spread into different areas and highways in Leyte , especially in the towns near Tacloban, where looters are supposedly heading.
"Panawagan lang namin sa military at police, go out of Tacloban because the looters are not in Tacloban anymore. They are going out of Tacloban into the next towns," he said. "These are criminal elements, not iyung mga ginugutom."