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Scuffles erupt as police seize back supplies

A dozen injured in crackdown on protesters

Scuffles erupt as police seize back supplies
Protesters with looted supplies outside the Department of Social Welfare (photo Keith Bacongco)
Keith Bacongco, Davao

February 27, 2013

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Police seized back typhoon relief supplies from protesters on Tuesday following a violent standoff which left a dozen people injured in Davao. 

The police cordoned off the Department of Social Welfare office and loaded the relief supplies into patrol cars after Typhoon Bopha survivors had looted rice, noodles and other foodstuffs earlier in the day.

The survivors from villages in the typhoon-ravaged provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental had gathered outside the office on Monday to demand aid which they say had been denied them.

Typhoon Bopha struck the southern island of Mindanao in December, causing widespread devastation and affecting about six million people.

The tensions have continued into Wednesday with a journalist and policeman injured, adding to the casualty list from the previous day’s standoff as Davao Mayor Sara Duerte gave police the go ahead to disperse protesters.

Officials have threatened to prosecute those involved in the looting and described Tuesday’s police action as a “confiscation”.

“It’s not their property, it’s looting – a criminal offense,” said Davao City Police Chief Senior Superintendent Ronald dela Rosa who led operations against the looters.

A spokesman for the protesters, Karlos Trangia, said police exercised an excessive use of force.

He said lawyers are considering filing charges against police and department of social welfare officials.

Meanwhile, media reports on Wednesday said the protesters had taken food supplies intended for victims of Tropical Storm Crising which struck Mindanao last week.

Social Welfare Department spokesman Carmela Duron said Bopha relief supplies were being stored in a different part of the city.

Bopha survivors have accused authorities of failing to make good on their promise to deliver 10,000 sacks of rice to people in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, the worst hit provinces.

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