Have you ever gone on a strict no carbs diet for at least 72 hours straight? Do you remember how you got really irritable or even downright angry? Now, imagine eating absolutely NOTHING for 72 hours. If you have any kids or you love your parents, imagine that they have nothing to eat too. Finally, imagine that the only food available for 100 kilometers in all directions is in a Savemore, Puregold, Robinsons, Ayala Mall, or Gaisano. The question now: to loot, or not to loot?
The use of Army tanks to protect malls in Tacloban sends a lot of messages. One is the lack of planning and thinking on the part of the government. If you don’t want people to loot, feed them. Disasters happen all the time in the country, but only Yolanda in recent memory did such widespread looting happen. The major difference between the two situations is that after Yolanda, there was virtually no food left in the affected communities (without resorting to cannibalism).
Here’s a suggestion for a win-all solution: why not have the government buy the malls’ food stocks, distribute ‘vouchers’ to affected families following the regular procedure of NGOs, and have the malls accept only the vouchers. Everyone wins! The mall owners (rich as they are) don’t lose any money, those affected get to eat without being branded as criminals.
Someone will probably see weaknesses/holes in this proposal. But hey, at least we’re discussing innovative ways of helping the people. Which is way better than what the government is doing right now, namely, there are reports that certain provinces either did not stockpile food for evacuees or did not stockpile enough (see here, here, and here)