Governor Art Yap has changed his tune on Bohol’s post-typhoon peace and order situation saying that he has not seen any “grave untoward” incidents in the province after earlier claiming that there has been looting and that it could further spread throughout the island without national government intervention.
“In the past two weeks that I have been going around the province, I am at least happy to share with you that I did not see any grave untoward incidents of criminality in our province, I have not seen it,” Yap said in a press conference last week.
According to Yap, the province was able to maintain peace and order despite the challenges posed by the havoc wreaked by Typhoon Odette that swept through Bohol on December 16, 2021.
“Isip amahan, isip gobernador, sa akong nakit-an, all over the province we were able to maintain peace and stability despite sa atong mga hagit karon ug ang atong mga giatubang na mhga problema. I salute our fellow Bol-anons for this,” Yap said.
The governor’s statement however was contrary to his previous appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte in which he asked for police and military reinforcements to prevent more looting in the province.
“If the DSWD cannot give us the financial support right now, Mr. President I dont know how to reach you—thank you very much for coming to Bohol—but I’m sending messages right now, just please send troops and police. Kung hindi kayo magpapadala ng pera para sa pagkain [Mr. President], magpadala kayo ng sundalo at magpadala kayo ng police dahil kung hindi magl-looting dito,” Yap said.
The governor claimed that there had already been looting incidents in the province particularly against small business establishments.
“Meron na akong mga confidential reports [looting] pero di ko pa pwedeng sabihin,” Yap said.
“Yung mga tinitira nila, mga inuuna nila yung mga nasa tabi, yung maliliit na retailers. Yun ang una nilang tinira,” he added. “Syempre gumagalaw din yan. Di natin alam one night out of hunger, diba.”
According to Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) chief Col. Osmundo Salibo, there have been no reported looting incidents in Bohol except two in Talibon and Ubay which were not “hunger-related.”
“After the landfall of Typhoon Odette, we have only recorded three major crimes—looting in Talibon but it’s not related to hunger after Typhoon Odette, yun lang po ay purely criminals taking advantage of the chaos created by Typhoon Odette,” said Salibo.
Previously, Yap’s initial statement on the imminent looting drew criticisms from netizens calling out the governor for thinking lowly of Boholanos.
“We’ve been through many typhoons and earthquakes. I’ve never heard of looting in Bohol and I’m not expecting a first,” Morsi Apalisok said in a Facebook post.
“Probably, he talked about looting because he experienced it in his place. He doesn’t know Boholanos culture and traits. We had the great earthquake and now the super typhoon, yet, respect still prevail,” said Arnulfo Dumaran.
Michael Peterson, a foreign national living in Tagbilaran City, was also in disbelief that Boholanos, who he called “helpful people,” would resort to looting.
“I have never in my life seen such a helpful people, even some lost all, they still without a question help out if they can. and just look at the lines in ATM, water and more… in other countries people start puching and fighting, here you just get a good chance for new friends while waiting,” Peterson said.