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Lorenzana’s order creates confusion

The order of Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana to impose checkpoints in quake-affected areas in Mindanao has created confusion.

Lorenzana issued the order “to properly record the arrival of relief goods and workers.”

Lorenzana, the Martial Law administrator in Mindanao, has been tasked to head all government relief operations in Davao del Sur and North Cotabato.

The checkpoints, he said, will also ensure that only legitimate and authorized relief workers are granted access to evacuation centers and receive relief goods and supplies for distribution to the evacuees.

“The checkpoints will also screen those kibitzers or ‘usiseros’,” he added.

Lorenzana has instructed relevant authorities on the proper management of evacuation centers so that there will be order.

He added that this instruction was in the wake of reports that some people are rushing the relief vehicles and getting anything they can.

“I have also directed the military to remove the people from the highways begging and blocking vehicles bringing relief goods and bring them to their communities so they can be properly attended to,” Lorenzana added.

Relief organizations can leave their donations to troops for distribution to the affected families or if they want to do it themselves, military units can direct them to areas needing their assistance, he added.

Journalist Serafin Ledesma Jr,. said “hope he limits this to just maintaining order in evacuation centers and not to make it difficult for donors/aids from bringing relief items to those in need.”

“We are not in a state of war. We are in a state of calamity. Sir,” Ledesma said.

Lawyer Ramon Edison Batacan said Lorenzana should clarify his memo to avoid confusion.

“Otherwise, it will discourage prospective donors from sending relief goods as they will be required to show that they are legitimate and authorized as relief workers to gain access to evacuation centers.”

Former City Councilor Peter Lavina said “simple coordination” with local command structures – the local government unit and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) – should suffice.

“Stop the red tape accreditation processes. No time for a Mar Roxas ‘write a letter’ in these times of quick response!” Lavina said.

Lawyer Caesar Europa said the AFP should “secure the evacuation centers but not to the extent of stopping the help from private citizens.”

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, in his reply to the post of Batacan, said questions on Sec. Lorenzana’s order is now “being addressed.”

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