MANILA, Philippines - Almost all the 983 members of the Eastern Visayas police force based in Palo, Leyte were declared missing yesterday after a 15-meter-high storm surge hit their headquarters at the height of Super Typhoon Yolanda last Friday.
Without policemen in the streets, thousands of hungry people have resorted to looting department stores, some taking television sets, refrigerators, air conditioners and even beds.
Soldiers and policemen from other regions have been airlifted to the city to maintain law and order.
Informed source said only 34 policemen have so far reported for duty last Sunday.
“Out of the 983 police personnel, only 34 showed up during an accounting of troops when everything had settled down after the storm,” informed sources said.
“For now, the 949 who failed to report back to their duties are officially declared as missing.”
Sources said of about 18 members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) regional office, only one, despite his injuries, has reported back to duty.
“We are just hoping that the missing policemen from the Eastern Visayas Regional Police Office are just out there busy attending to the needs of their respective families,” sources said.
The regional police headquarters near the Tacloban City airport is beside key military facilities like the Air Force Tactical Operation Group-8, the Naval Forces Central and the CIDG regional headquarters.
Armed Forces spokesman, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said that 21 Air Force and Navy personnel in Tacloban City were injured during the typhoon, including a military commander, Lt. Col. Fermin Carangan who was swept across Basey in Samar.
Carangan has been airlifted to Manila where he is confined in a hospital.
Two soldiers drowned in the storm surge, Zagala said.